I can’t think of a year more exciting for our firm than 2022. I’d love to take a moment and reflect on everything that happened over the last 12 months and share with you some of our biggest accomplishments and wins! We helped over 180 people achieve their immigration goals; we had some changes in the firm; and we learned a lot about Afghanistan and Ukraine.

January – The year started out slowly with only a few approvals, but what was approved was big. We helped the wife of a NGO-employee obtain citizenship and we had a long-pending (three years!) green card approved for a young boy. We also fought and won a green card case for a young woman who had claimed she told her former employer that she was a U.S. citizen – but upon talking with her more, it was clear it was an assumption the employer made and she never actually made the claim.

February – We had a former employee and her husband travel to Juarez for his immigrant visa interview. After years of living without stability, they were able to return to the United States to a life full of new opportunity. We also were able to use an old law – INA 245(i) – to help a young man obtain his green card in the United States without having to leave the country that’s been his home for 95% of his life.

March – Our office left our first home in Marietta and moved to our new location in the Cumberland area. In the midst of the move, we helped a U.S. State Department employee and his spouse get an expedited green card interview. We also helped a couple reunite after years apart due to mistakes in consular processing.

April – We settled into our new space and helped ten people become U.S. citizens, including one who had major medical issues and required a waiver of the examination.

May – One of our most difficult U visas cases got approved after two Requests for Evidence and a young man with a heart condition can stay in the United States with his family. Humanitarian deferred actions, which had come to a halt under the prior administration, came back and we had two cases approved.

June – I went to my first AILA conference in over two years and it was so great to reconnect with colleagues around the country and to learn from some amazing experts. Our very first U-visa approval client became a U.S. citizen – it’s been such an honor to be part of her immigration transformation!

July – We had our first Afghan Asylum Clinic. This project turned into a massive undertaking for our firm and I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished with the help of volunteers. To date, we’ve filed just over 50 asylum cases for people fleeing a brutal regime. A green card and waiver were approved for a woman who made a few mistakes when she was a teenager and now she gets to live freely in the U.S. with her wife. We also helped a newlywed obtain a J-1 waiver of the two-year home residency requirement so she can be her spouse instead of an ocean away.

August – Sandra Ramirez joined our team as our third paralegal and we’re so grateful for her and her incredible kindness! A client that I’ve known since he was 16 became a U.S. citizen – we fought hard for his I-751 to be approved and once that was done, the path was cleared for naturalization. We also helped a woman with an approved VAWA case, but with an old deportation order get her court case reopened and terminated so she could get her green card.

September – We helped my former step-dad become a U.S. citizen. I remember him and my mom going to Juarez when I was about ten years old to get his paperwork fixed. Who knows…I may owe my career in immigration law to him and watching how this all impacted my family. We had a case approved for a victim of human trafficking. The trafficking happened over 20 years ago, but this woman still lives with the scars of a nightmare experience. She’s now more independent and free than ever. There was also a Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and green card approval for a young man whose mother died tragically and whose father had never been part of his life.

October – Our 10th anniversary! We loved celebrating with our friends and thinking about the 1200+ people we had been able to help. At our anniversary party, we announced our new name – Hope Immigration. It’s definitely a transition, but we will be using this name moving forward in the new year.

November – Isabel Schmieta joined us full time as our Support Specialist, helping with various projects, including helping our clients tell their stories. We started to see some marriage-based green card cases approved without an interview, which is great because it allows cases to be approved faster. We had two families approved for U Deferred Action status, meaning they could have work cards for the first time in their lives.  Once of our very first DACA cases from 2012 got approved – which may not be remarkable – but after a bad decision and a criminal issue, it felt like a miracle.

December – We had our first Ukrainian TPS case approved. We had three T visas approved – each client with an incredible story of survival in the worst of conditions. ICE also started responding more to requests for Prosecutorial Discretion, agreeing on three separate cases to terminate removal proceedings. We also filed a lawsuit against the government on a long-pending case…nothing says “happy holidays” like “we’re suing you!” We’ve also been working on our new website and getting things ready for the start of Hope Immigration.

I don’t know what 2023 will bring, but I know the team at Hope Immigration will be here for you. We will continue to fight for our clients and help them navigate an ever-increasingly difficult immigration system, and do it all with the compassion and dignity you deserve.  Here’s to an amazing 2023 for all of us!

-Tracie