Mohammad’s Miracle | St Louis Immigration Law Blog
- Created: 07 March 2014
- Written by David
I suspect it is rare for a lawyer to experience a miracle in the course of representing a client, yet I have. Miracle is the only word my client and I could come up with to adequately describe what happened.
Late in December Mohammad came to me asking for help getting his wife and daughter to the US as immigrants. This young father, a native of Pakistan and now a permanent resident living and working in the United States, had filed the required immigration paperwork on his own. His petition for his wife had already been approved, but yet he still needed my help.
You see Mohammad had returned from a trip to Pakistan about a year earlier. The trip was for the express purpose of entering into an arranged marriage. The couple wed and consummated their marriage after which Mohammad had to return to the US. His wife, still in Pakistan, became pregnant and last summer gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Mohammad could not afford to travel to Pakistan to see his new born child, so he waited for his petition to be approved. However, by the time the petition was approved, the family was struck with the devastating news that their infant daughter had leukemia. By the time Mohammad came to me, his wife was spending countless hours in emergency rooms because the Pakistani medical system would not treat such a young child with leukemia. All they could provide was palliative care. Mohammad contacted me because he knew if they could not get their daughter to the US quickly, she might die, particularly because she was not being treated for her cancer.
We filed an expedite request with the Department of State which was approved right away. The State Department then notified the US Embassy in Pakistan that the case had been approved for expedited processing. Once we were able to contact the US Embassy in Pakistan, they set a visa interview date just days away. Usually it take many weeks to get such an appointment. Everything was moving surprisingly fast for a process that otherwise takes months. Then things stopped.
A consular officer at the Embassy informed the mother at the interview that she would be approved, but also that additional information was needed, including proof of health care coverage. At the time, Mohammad had no health insurance because he was self-employed. Even if he did have coverage, his foreign spouse and child would not be covered given their geographic separation from the father. As a result of this request from the Embassy, Mohammad signed up for insurance but pointed out that his wife and child could not yet be covered until after they arrived in the US, and that the insurance would not begin until the next month after applying. Things looked bleak, and the very real possibility Mohammad’s little girl would die waiting for her father’s insurance coverage had all the makings of a classic tragedy. We were unable to convince the US Embassy to approve the visa despite the instant lack of coverage (we argued coverage would exist eventually anyway, so why risk a child’s death?). Days turned into weeks as we struggled even to contact the Embassy, let alone get an answer from them (they won’t take phone calls on any cases–all communication must be by fax or a form email from their website).
Weeks later Mohammad finally had his proof of insurance in the form of an insurance card. We sent it to the Embassy and, after several days of prodding, they acknowledged receipt of the documentation and indicated the case was approved and the visa was being issued. It took over a week for them to issue the visa and return the passport they had been holding since the interview. By mid-February, nearly two months after the case had been approved for “expedited” processing, the mother and daughter finally had their visas in hand.
I didn’t hear from Mohammad after that, until today. He called me in what can only be described as giddy spirits. His infant daughter had just completed a week of tests and evaluation at the hospital here in the United States. It turns out she does not have leukemia! In fact, she does not have any disease. Did the experts in Pakistan misdiagnose her? Did her body heal on its own? There is no doubt this baby was very ill. Mohammad would call me regularly to inquire if we couldn’t do more because his wife had just spent another night at the emergency room with their daughter. Now, the girl is healthy and happy and unified with her mother and father for the first time in her life.
During my career I have shared a client’s joy at an acquittal on criminal charges; I have shared a client’s joy at being allowed to stay in the United States; I have shared a client’s joy at being freed from lengthy confinement, but none of this elation compares to my sharing a client’s joy at the miraculous healing of a baby girl. Joy to the World indeed.