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How a lawyer solved a problem that had prevented an immigrant from obtaining US citizenship for 28 years


ForumDaily New York

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Sometimes one small stupidity can turn into a problem for decades. But it also works the other way around: one small effort for you can radically change the life of another person. This story is about how a Russian-speaking immigrant in New York did something stupid that cost him 28 years of nerves, and lawyer and notary Karina Duval I solved this problem in five letters. Next is Karina’s story from the first person.

I did not plan to go to work on March 8 and did not sign up any clients. It’s not that this holiday meant anything to me, but it was an excuse to stay home and get away from hosting 18 people a day.

But at some point I decided that I still need to do paperwork, and it’s better to do it in the office. On the way, a man called, whose contact I saved in my phone as “Alexander”, without a last name.

“You are in the office today, can I come to you? I’ll take a minute, I won’t take much time,” he said.

“Okay, come,” I agreed.

He came with a gift: “You have done such a great thing for me!” And he got ready to leave.

Photo from the personal archive of Karina Duval

I ask: “What have I done for you? What's your last name? Who are you anyway?

Alexander recalls the situation: in 1994, he committed shoplifting, somewhere in New Jersey. I couldn't be more specific. Firstly, he was taken there by car. Secondly, he was young and green then, he had just arrived in America and had no bearings at all. Thirdly, there was
very drunk.

He was detained and taken to the police station. There he immediately sobered up and returned the stolen goods to the store owner and compensated for the damage. Anyway, he was released and the victim drove him home to Brooklyn in his car.

On the subject: Choosing an immigration lawyer: how to avoid becoming a victim of scammers

Many years have passed since then. And all these years he could not even apply for American citizenship, because he did not have an answer to the question: how did that matter end? Not a single lawyer, according to him, took on this case, since there were no specifics. But the man beat
himself with a heel in the chest and said that there was no trial and there were no consequences at all. But I couldn't prove it.

He came to me in 2022. I asked him a dozen security questions and compiled them from his
name 5 requests. That's all. He left.

It turned out that out of five requests, one hit the bull's eye - he was answered. And now, after 28 years
the moment he arrived in the USA, he became the proud owner of an American passport.

He said that he kept copies of my five letters and hung them in frames so that the children knew:
You cannot break the law, but if you do break it, what should you do?

It was not in vain that I came to work on March 8th. I received a lot of positive feedback.

Material prepared in partnership with

Karina Duval – notary, international law expert

Russian registration: #78/857
NYS registration: 4775086
Notary public, registration: 02DU6376542

tel: + 7 (921) 946-0582 (in Russia) / + 1 (718) 704-8558 (in USA)
[email protected],

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