A MIRACLE ACCOMPLISHED WITH CONFIDENCE
Our DC office recently celebrated a major accomplishment that I want to share with the Korean Community in Honolulu. I received a call from a Korean woman who has a career as an opera singer, pianist and teacher. She is a single mother of a 16 year old daughter. They have lived in the United States since the daughter was a baby. Thedaughter hasnever visited Korea nor traveled outside of the United States. The mother and daughter have been in legal status for 16 years based on the mother’s O-visa-which is given to artists and performers who can demonstrate extraordinary ability. The client taught music related classes at a small University in Washington DC, while performing at various venues including one of the largest Korean Churches in Virginia. But she had come to the end of her stay in O status and both she and her daughter faced a traumatic return to Korea.
I received a call from this individual who was in distress and asked if I could represent her in applying for a green card through the EB-1 process. After our discussion and reviewing her credentials, I was not optimistic, especially since we had only several weeks to complete the case before her status would run out. She explained that she knew about our work through other members of the community, and she asked that we do our best and added “I know you can do it, I just have this feeling but if you don’t succeed, I will not blame you”. I decided to accept the case.
EB-1 visas are for a select group of people who can establish extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business or athletics. The applicants do not need a sponsor-they can apply based on their own professional accomplishments and footprints. You must show the following: (1)that you meet at least 3 of 10 listed categories (such awards, publications by you or about you, contributions of significance in your field, financial success, being a judge of other, membership in elite organizations etc.) (2) That you are among the very top elite in your field (3) that you will be able to practice your craft if granted a green card (but no specific job offer required) and finally (4) that your green card is in the national interest of the U.S. The standard for EB-1 is much higher than for an O visa.
Having a clear strategy is critical so that the client and everyone working on the case can collaborate effectively. Because she did not clearly meet the standard in any one of her individual fields, I made the decision to focus on her combined skills as an opera singer and pianist as well as her amazing talent as a teacher in her crafts. The index alone was 22 pages long, and the legal argument was 17 pages long. We helped to prepare 8 letters from distinguished musicians and one from the Korean Embassy. This was an enormous collaborative effort that involved the client‘s full time focus for three weeks and contributions from everyone in our office. We filed this application with a mountain of documentation to the USCIS using the premium process option that provides an answer in 10 days by paying an additional $1000.00. Every day I checked the USCIS website to see the status, and on the 8th day, I saw the case was approved. The client and her daughter now have a future in the U.S. and their green cards are only a few months away.
Coincidentally, the client and her daughter were visiting Honolulu for Christmas vacation, so my wife daughter and I had an opportunity to celebrate this incredible victory in person in Waikiki on a Sunday morning under a tree within hearing distance of the animals at the zoo. We sipped our coffees and ate our croissant. The daughter is an amazing student who will likely attend Princeton University; she is the top student in a High School with a tremendous reputation. Their trust in our office was rewarded. But as ethical professionals, it is always important to provide realistic hope when beginning a case. Once the client assumes the risk of a difficult case, all parties must work as one to achieve the goal. Here, the goal of securing a secure future for both of these extraordinary people was achieved.