When the U.S. Department of State refused to issue a Visitor’s Visa to a father who wanted to visit his dying teenage son in New York, NYLAG’s Immigrant Protection Unit (IPU) intervened. Representing 17 year-old JH, IPU staff showed compassion, innovation and legal skill in their efforts to gain a Visitor’s Visa for JH’s father, OH.

JH was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bone cancer in early April. Documentation provided by his physicians at New York University’s Langone Medical Center’s Pediatric Acute Rehabilitation Unit stated that JH’s condition was “life-threatening” and that his prognosis was “poor.” JH requested that he be allowed to spend time with his father, a citizen of Jamaica, before his cancer progressed. Until the age of 16, JH lived in Jamaica with his father and grandparents. He then moved to the United States, where he gained Legal Permanent Residency status and lived with his mother who is a United States Citizen. JH’s parents, though separated, have both been very involved in their son’s upbringing in spite of geographic barriers.

When JH’s father was informed that his son was terminally ill, he immediately attempted to obtain a Visitor’s Visa to travel to see his son.

Gaining a Visitor’s Visa to the United States can be very difficult, particularly for citizens of developing nations, as an applicant must prove that there is no intention of permanent relocation to the U.S. Unfortunately, OH’s request for admittance to the United States was initially denied, despite the overwhelming evidence that he had no aspiration to permanently move to the U.S. OH lives with his wife and five minor children in Jamaica, and owns his own business there. Even though he wished to see JH before he passed, OH had every intention to return to his home in Jamaica.

IPU was contacted to help OH obtain his Visitor’s Visa before JH’s condition worsened. After an unsuccessful appeal to the Department of State, NYLAG’s advocates began contacting various public officials for help. With the assistance of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, IPU was able to successfully negotiate with the Department of State to issue OH the necessary Visitor’s Visa. The Senator worked with the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica and was able to expedite the process. On May 20th, OH arrived at JFK Airport and accompanied by IPU staff, rushed to NYU’s Langone Medical Center for a happy reunion with his son.