Joe Reyes

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Joe Reyes

Woodland Hills, CA

I came to United States from the Philippines on a tourist visa in 2001 with my family. We really had no plans of migrating but my friend convinced me to give it a try. My first experience on how broken the immigration system is was when I applied for an extension of stay. My lawyer filed it 2 weeks before my visa was to expire.

Unfortunately, while they received my request on time it was opened 2 days after my visa expired. Needless to say, my request for extension of stay was denied. Despite that denial, a prospective employer agreed to sponsor me. My lawyer filed the employment petition together with an appeal to reconsider the denial of my extension of stay request.

My employee petition was approved but the appeal was denied. I was asked to exit the United States and get my employment visa either in my home country or the Ciudad Juarez embassy. My lawyer discouraged me to leave and said he would file an appeal. Same result, denied.

I’ve spent around $10,000 dollars in lawyer and immigration fees and ended up with nothing. Same thing happened to my wife. She became a vocational nurse here, in addition to her being a Bachelor’s Degree holder, and was sponsored by a home health agency. Her lawyer filed under the skilled workers category. We waited for 4 years for her priority date to come up. When it did, it was also denied because apparently a Licensed Vocational Nurse is categorized as a unskilled worker. After numerous appeal and thousands of dollars in fees, she finally gave up. While I am out of status right now, my wife and my daughter, who was only 6 when we moved here to California, are still “in status” because she was able to get a student visa from a computer school.

10 years and all we can show is a student visa for my wife and daughter. In all those immigration transactions, my wife and daughter were able to legally get social security numbers and valid IDs. She’s working now and paying her taxes. My daughter is now a high school senior and vice president of her graduating class. She’s dating a bright young man from Guatemala who’s hoping the DREAM Act gets passed in congress.

You hear and read a lot of comments from people who want immigrants to do it the right way. I tried it to do it the right way and still ended up without papers.

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