Getting Back Home: A Green Card Catastrophe

Rosa was feeling homesick. “She hadn’t seen her family in over a year,” said her husband Mike, a U.S. Navy Veteran who had met her while serving in Italy. “And Italians are very family-oriented.” When he suddenly found himself without a job, the financial difficulties compounded Rosa’s depression. Her uncle was able to help—he bought her a plane ticket from January 10th to February 21st.

Rosa was certain her green card didn’t expire until August, but when Mike went online to check her in for her flight, her green card read: “Exp. 2-8-18.” Rosa had assumed the Italian date format of Day/Month/Year, the reverse what Americans use, had mistakenly assumed 2/8 was August 2nd.

It could stop her from getting back into America, but Mike had heard that green card extension requests only take a couple of weeks, so they decided the trip was worth the risk. He immediately started gathering the paperwork to file for it, then overnighted the application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on January 16th.

Continuing his job search, Mike was facing possible homelessness when he met Lisa Parkinson of Michigan Ability Partners. Lisa helped him get hired at America’s Preferred Home Warranty (APHW), starting on January 29th. “I’ve been very happy here, to be back in the work force and contributing to society. It put me back on track,” Mike said, adding that maybe God had put him there for a reason.

Things were finally starting to look up… except Rosa’s green card extension letter had not arrived. When Mike called USCIS, they wouldn’t give him an update until 30 days had passed from the date they cashed the check—two weeks after he’d sent it. The waiting period caused Rosa to miss her flight home.

Mike called USCIS back on the 30-day mark, only to hear they had mailed out her extension within days of his check clearing. Apparently, Mike’s postman had been marking Rosa’s mail Return to Sender. After a conference with the post office to fix the issue, Rosa was finally legal to come home. Her uncle was able to help again by purchasing a second ticket home for Rosa, but now they needed to prove her legal status. Fearing the original might get lost in the mail, Mike sent a copy of it, along with several other documents to back it up. In the end, it was really up to the airline—would they let her through?

Rosa boarded her flight home without issue, and Mike was able to relax. The day came when she would be arriving, and he was working at APHW when the CEO, Rodney Martin, came to see him. Mike was confused—management had been very gracious and understanding in working with him to rectify the situation. Had he done something wrong?

Rodney led him to a large group of people and presented him with a $100 gift card, so he could take his long-missed wife out to dinner. Everyone cheered, and Mike was completely blown away. “I was shocked,” Mike said afterward. “I was so grateful, and my wife and family were too. I’ve been telling everyone this is a great company to work for, and this just reinforces that.”

Mike picked his wife up from the airport later that night, and she slept the entire drive home. “It’s been something else, without her here,” Mike said. “Two months is a long time to be apart. It’s been wonderful having her home. Just wonderful!”