How Our Immigration Stories Help Us Help You

Our Immigration Stories at Andres Mejer Law

Most immigrants regret not obtaining a green card and filing a citizenship application during their stay in the United States. In our ten years of practice at Andres Mejer Law, we’ve met too many immigrants who have been in the US for over 20 years. They had time to obtain a temporary protected status (TPS) or apply for a green card through Life Act 245i, but they did nothing.

Why? Because they never thought they would still be in the US many years later. They had planned on going back and didn’t think they would marry and have kids. Now that their life is completely different from what they’d imagined, they wish they had filed for United States citizenship when it was easier to do so. 

Immigrants During COVID-19

Today, immigrants are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Why?

  • Because most immigrants have to go to work and put themselves at risk, since they don’t have enough savings to support their family during the pandemic.  
  • Because a lot of immigrant families live together in one house or apartment, which means that if one person gets sick, another family-member can get infected as well.

Had they gotten legal status those years ago, they could’ve gotten better jobs, made more money, and have better living conditions. If they had the same opportunities available to citizens or lawful permanent residents of the US, they would not be in as much risk as they are today.

Why We Do What We Do

Here at Andres Mejer Law, we make sure that your immigration challenges get solved. We do everything we can to ensure that you can get immigrant visas, work visas, and other US visas. We help you go through the immigration process so you can get your certificate of citizenship.

We believe that it’s a crime for a potential client to go anywhere else where they won’t be treated the same way we do, and reach the same outcome we can give you.

It is for this reason why we don’t stop. We know the difference that legal status makes, because here at Andres Mejer Law, we are all immigrants or children of immigrants. Our immigration stories and experiences are what help us help you better than anyone else.

Andres’ Immigration Story 

Moving to the U.S.

I was born in Santiago, Chile and came to the US just before my sixth birthday. I was left back in the first grade because I didn’t speak English. I learned it by watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and Sesame Street.

My father had run away from Argentina when he was 15 years old, because the military came to his home looking for him. He got married to my mother who was from Chile, and they came to the US after Pinochet took over the country.

When I was growing up, my parents were separated for many years.  I know what it is like to have the police show up at your house in the middle of the night.  I know what it’s like to go to jail to visit your family as a kid, because I did that. I know what it’s like to have the bank take your home away, through foreclosure.  I know what it is like to have a landlord evict you from your home.  All that happened to me before I turned 18.

 My family got our green cards, thanks to President Reagan’s Amnesty in 1986.  But my parents went to an “attorney” who never did anything but charge them $5,000 for over two years. When my father got fed up and demanded to see his documents, he learned that all there was was a retaining letter, and nothing else.  So, he decided to do the petitions himself, and we eventually got our green cards.  

Going to college

When I was in college, my mother decided to move to Israel to reunite with my father. I decided to go with her because I didn’t want our family to separate, but at that point we still hadn’t filed for citizenship. We thought since we qualified, we could file for citizenship outside of the US, but we were wrong. Today, I have family members that lost their US green card because they stayed outside the country for too long and were considered to have abandoned their green cards.

I moved with my mother and siblings to Israel, not speaking Hebrew.  I had to learn.  We spent two months living on the floor of an empty apartment, waiting for our stuff to arrive from the US.  

Two years later, I came back to the US as a green card holder on vacation. I had to come before a year has gone by, or I’ll risk losing my permanent resident status. I didn’t want to lose my green card.  I only had a duffle bag of clothes and $300 in my pocket, and I stayed.

Since I only needed three years to finish my college degree, I went back to school, and finished it in two years. At the time, I had an Argentinian girlfriend in Israel. Both her and my parents thought we’d get married, but our relationship didn’t survive the move. I was a green card holder, she had no status in the US, and I wasn’t ready to get married just to give her legal status.

In college, I lived in a rooming house with lots of people I didn’t know.  I didn’t have a car, or even a TV because I couldn’t afford one.  My parents couldn’t help me either, I had to do it alone. I went to Rutgers University, and work at the Hyatt in New Brunswick. Even if it rained or snowed, I would ride my bike to work, and as an asthmatic, the cold isn’t good for me.  But that didn’t matter, because I had rent to pay and tuition to pay for. I could’ve gone through college on a full scholarship, but I lost that when I moved with my family to Israel.

There weren’t many opportunities in Israel when I graduated from college in 2000, so I went to law school.  It was never my intention to stay in the US.  I just wanted to get my education and go back to my family.  But in law school, I met my wife.  Now, we have 2 wonderful kids – Noemi and Marcello – and I’m still in the US 22 years later.

Starting Andres Mejer Law

I started Andres Mejer Law in the middle of the last recession.  We had bought a foreclosed property, put every dollar we had, and renovated it.  My son, who is now 11 was just born.  I was working for a law firm traveling all over the state, when they fired me.

I decided I couldn’t have work for others anymore.  I couldn’t allow my future and my family’s future to depend on others. So, Andres Mejer Law was born ten years ago.  Today, we have educated over 5, 500 immigrants about their options. That’s how many people I and my employees have met.

In total, I have lived twice in Chile, twice in Israel, and twice in the United States. Now you know that when you tell me your immigration situation, I understand your immigrant experience because I have personally lived it.

Employees’ Immigration Stories

 My story isn’t unique at Andres Mejer Law.  We are immigrants for immigrants. Here are some of the experiences of our employees about immigrating to the US.

  • One had a Salvadorian father and an Ecuadorian mother. However, both she and her brother were born in Peru. Their father illegally came to the US on their own, and when she was six, her mother brought her and the rest of her family to El Salvador, also illegally. Her younger brother was born in the US three years later. Today, all three kids are US citizens. Her mother has lawful permanent residency and is applying for citizenship, while her father still has temporary protected status, but is working on getting a green card.
  • Another employee was born in Spain and came to the US with her family as a teenager. She still travels back and forth, and her parents still own a house in Spain and spend part of the time there.
  • One employee was born in Puerto Rico. Later on, he was introduced to his Brazilian wife, and they moved to Brazil where he learned Portuguese. He filed for his wife’s green card.  He did it alone.  He made some mistakes, so it took a few years longer than it should have, but today they are both in the US, and his wife has US citizenship too.
  • Another employee came as a child with her parents.  Her parents applied for permanent residency, but it took so long that she was already over 21 when they got their permanent resident status. Her parents filed for her, but she then married and could no longer get a green card that way. She decided to convert to a student visa and got multiple degrees in order to maintain legal status. Eventually, she got work authorization through the H1B process.  Today, she has an LPR status, but it took over a decade to get it.

Our immigration experiences help us do our jobs better. No matter your situation, we have an employee working with Andres Mejer Law who has been where you are today. If you’re in need of an immigration attorney, call us today. We’ll answer your questions and help you start your immigration journey the right way.

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