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Man learns visa petition filed nearly 20 years ago still not approved

Since the first European immigrants landed on U.S. soil, people from around the world have traveled to the U.S. in search of a better life. While immigrants are largely credited with helping grow our country into the strong democratic nation it is today, in more recent years anti-immigration laws have served to make it more difficult for immigrants to enter and stay in the U.S. In some cases, even individuals who attempt to follow the laws and rules with regard to immigration are penalized.

A 36-year-old Mexican immigrant recently celebrated after learning that years spent studying and obtaining a law degree were not in vain. The man immigrated to the U.S. in 1994 when he was 17 years old. The following year, his father filed and received confirmation of an immigration visa petition for his son. Nineteen years later, however, problems arose when the now 36-year-old passed the state bar exam and planned to practice law. 

Due to a backlog of immigrants seeking legal residency, the 36-year-old was never issued a formal visa number. As a result, he is considered an illegal and undocumented immigrant. The man, however, only learned of his illegal immigrant status upon applying for admission to the State Bar in California.

The matter went all the way to the state's Supreme Court which recently ruled to allow undocumented immigrants to be admitted to the State Bar. In their ruling, the state Supreme Court noted that immigrants who have been in the U.S. for years and whose "only unlawful conduct is unlawful presence in this country" should still be allowed to be admitted to the State Bar.

This case proves that even immigrants who attempt to abide by immigration laws can encounter difficulties. The laws that govern legal immigration in the U.S. are complex and prone to change. For these reasons, individuals residing in New York who have questions related to immigration, citizenship and asylum are advised to seek the advice of an attorney.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Undocumented Alien Can Practice Law in Calif.," William Dotinga, Jan. 2, 2014

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