A Life without Fear, A Life Lived

Peace of Mind through Immigration Services


April 2016

Staff Attorney, Kishwer Vikaas Barrica
Ms. Barrica, Staff Attorney


For years, Sandra had only experienced the United States second-hand through her English studies. After learning the language, literature, and culture of the United States, she felt it was time to embark on her own American journey.


Despite her family's insistence she stay in Brazil, she travelled to the U.S. To further her educational goals, she participated in a program that allowed her to work during the day and study at night.


Sandra began to settle into the rhythms of work, study, and eventually married life. At this point, Sandra considered applying for a green card. However, her American-born partner was emotionally abusive and she left the relationship before applying for any immigration remedies. She was now stuck in a precarious limbo without legal status.


Her anxiety surrounding deportation and the inability to see her family in an emergency began to seep into her daily life. “It is a big thing [to come] to this country with the hopes to make a better life... and then, find yourself stuck here without the possibility [of]... visit[ing] your family,” said Sandra.


She felt alone and decided it was time to look for outside assistance. A friend referred her to WEAVE (Women Escaping a Violent Environment), a provider of services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. There, she began receiving counseling.


After hearing her story, her WEAVE counselor referred her to Opening Doors for immigration legal services. With legal assistance from Opening Doors she started pursuing VAWA, an immigrant visa petition for battered spouses, children, or parents of a U.S. citizen.


The support she received from Opening Doors helped her remain strong throughout the visa application process. Kishwer Vikaas Barrica, our dedicated Staff Attorney, guided her. After 6 months, her VAWA petition was approved. A month later, she received summons for a green card interview.


Sandra and Ms. Barrica prepared together for the interview. Despite her extensive preparation, Sandra experienced crippling anxiety as the day approached.


“At the beginning, I thought I [could] do this myself,” said Sandra. “Then I changed my mind, and asked [Kishwer] to come with me to the interview.”


Barrica notes that Sandra’s anxiety is not unique. “It’s hard for people who were abused in less apparent ways -- whether it is emotionally, mentally, financially, psychologically -- to prove that their scars are just as significant as survivors of physical abuse.”


Fearing this anxiety might risk her case, Barrica accompanied Sandra to the green card interview.


Sandra says, “I felt more secure having her with me. She knew every detail of my case, and [I knew] she could be assertive if there was a question where I didn’t know what to say.”


With Ms. Barrica’s support, Sandra’s final interview went smoothly and her petition was approved.


“When clients first come in, they are often fearful and timid,” says Ms. Barrica. “After an immigration approval, their entire body language changes. It's a privilege to watch and assist in that journey.”


After five years of living in fear of the unknown, Sandra received her green card. She has less anxiety, and although she’s not traveling to Brazil immediately, she is now able to visit her family in an emergency. She now has freedom and peace of mind, which makes all the difference.


Opening Doors can help with Family-based immigration, Victims of Crime Visas, Citizenship and Naturalization, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and Refugee Adjustment of Status and more. Contact us at 916.492.2591 to schedule an appointment.


Read other articles from April 2016:

Day of Giving: Tuesday, May 3

Bike Drive: Donated Bikes become "New Wheels" for Refugees