As I make my plans to be with my family for the holidays, I can’t help but think about the many clients that we meet here at Taller de José who have not seen family members for many years. Usually this is due to an array of barriers mainly in regards to finances and immigration status. Some clients may have their whole family here in Chicago, others have a few brothers, sisters, and relatives nearby, and there are also plenty who are blessed to live with their whole family. For Julia*, she is fortunate enough to have some family nearby, but she is here without most of her immediate family, namely her parents.
I met Julia over a year ago to assist with her U-Visa case, and since then, I have worked with her on a number of cases. In that time, I learned how much Julia’s family means to her and what an amazing mother and wife she is. Julia recently came to me to ask if I can help her get a tourist visa for her parents in Mexico to visit the United States for a couple of months. This process requires multiple steps including her parents traveling quite the distance to the US Embassy in Mexico, filling out an application on their part, and participating in an interview for the Visa at the Embassy. Another vital part of the tourist visa application process is the “Invitation Letter”, which is a letter from the person with whom you will be staying with during your time in the US. A complete letter includes how long you intend to host your visitors, the purpose of their visit, plans that you have with your visitors, if you are employed and who will be providing for the economic needs of the visitors (including the purchase of round trip travel). This is all to ensure that the visitors will have no reason to have to work while here and that ultimately, they will be returning to their home country. I thought once we wrote the letter, that would be all we needed. But the embassy also asked for a notarized letter from Julia’s employer about her income and an I-134 Form, “Affidavit of Support” to provide further details about income and expenses to ensure the economic stability of Julia’s family to support visitors for an extended time.
This whole process from beginning the letter of invitation to receiving the decision took two months. I sensed Julia’s anxiety about the case as we were preparing the various document even when I reassured her that we were doing everything necessary. When Julia called me to let me know that her parents’ visas were finally approved, she was in tears thanking me for my help. I found out then that her nerves throughout this process were because once their visas were approved, she would get to see her parents again for the first time in twenty-one years. That is nearly my entire lifetime! As a compañera for over two years, I continue to encounter new cases and unique stories regularly. This instance of assisting in bringing a family back together reminded me of our mission to accompany individuals through complex systems, and that as compañeras/compañeras, we will always be facing new situations right along-side our clients.
Happy Holidays! Thank you for your support for our mission at Taller de José!
*All stories are based on real client stories, but names and details have been changed to protect client confidentiality.