Arlington, VA

This sponsored column is by James Montana, Esq. and Doran Shemin, Esq., practicing attorneys at Steelyard LLC, an immigration-focused law firm located in Arlington, Virginia. The legal information given here is general in nature. If you want legal advice, contact James for an appointment.

We frequently use this space to talk about changes in immigration law and the challenges that our clients face. Today, we want to go a bit off topic and spotlight a client who exemplifies why we love our work.

Ms. S., who was born in 1943, came to the United States legally in 1993 and has had a green card ever since. Ms. S. approached the Borromeo Legal Project, Inc., a nonprofit associated with St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Clarendon, to ask for help in applying for citizenship. The Borromeo Legal Project provides free English tutoring and pro bono legal representation to clients in need.

As part of our commitment to pro bono service, we agreed to represent Ms. S. in her naturalization application.

Ordinarily, applicants for U.S. citizenship have to be able to speak, read and write basic English. Ms. S. was exempt from this requirement, based on her age and her long residency in the United States. Ms. S. is also starting to have memory issues, which affected her ability to take the U.S. history and civics exam.

Despite her memory challenges, Ms. S. studied the civics and American history questions diligently with the help of her supportive family. When we met to prepare for her interview, she was extremely nervous about the civics test. We submitted a medical exemption request which, if accepted, would have exempted her from the U.S. history and civics test.

On the day of the interview, we found out that her medical exemption request was denied, which meant that she would have to pass the history and civics test with the aid of a translator. Luckily, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer spoke Spanish and conducted the entire interview in Spanish with Ms. S.

The officer was friendly and did everything she could to help Ms. S. feel comfortable. Ms. S. passed the civics exam and everyone in the room, including the officer, clapped and congratulated her. Ms. S. was so relieved that she began to cry. The rest of the interview went off without a hitch.

Today, Ms. S. is taking her oath to become a United States Citizen.

We are proud to work with the Borromeo Legal Project, proud of our work with Ms. S., and glad to share her story with you. If you know someone who has a green card and would be a good candidate for pro bono citizenship representation, please let us know, either directly or by referring them to the Borromeo Legal Project application page.

As always, be in touch with us directly if you need legal advice. If you have other sorts of questions, comment below. We love comments and will reply to all we can.

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