Pamela and Afshin Raghebi
Pamela Whitehall Raghebi and Afshin Raghebi have suffered and will continue to suffer harm because of the Proclamation and the waiver process. Plaintiff Pamela Raghebi has an approved I-130 petition and an I-601A waiver for her husband. Plaintiff Afshin Raghebi is currently living in Turkey, awaiting a visa to return to his wife, business, and home in the United States.
Plaintiff Afshin Raghebi first moved to the United States in 2006. An Iranian national, he left Iran due to fear of persecution for his religious beliefs and is now afraid to return to Iran. Mr. Raghebi intended to, but never applied for asylum as he was fearful that applying could eventually lead to his deportation. In the United States, he learned the trade of windows and glass installation. He met Mrs. Raghebi in Summer 2010 after he worked on the windows at the senior living home where she worked as a receptionist. Mr. and Mrs. Raghebi were married a few months later in December 2010. Together, Mr. and Mrs. Raghebi started a glass and window installation business. Mrs. Raghebi handled the accounting, while Mr. Raghebi was the primary glass installer at the company.
In January 2016, Mrs. Raghebi filed for an I-130 Petition to start the green card process for Mr. Raghebi. They were approved for their I-130 Petition in April 2016, meaning that USCIS had found that they had a bona fide relationship. Because Mr. Raghebi had been living in the U.S. undocumented, he had to file for an I-601A waiver of the ‘unlawful presence’ grounds of inadmissibility. To qualify for an I-601A waiver, Plaintiffs Mr. and Mrs. Raghebi had to show that Mrs. Raghebi would suffer “extreme hardship” if her husband was not granted permanent residency. Mrs. Raghebi was able to make this showing, in part due to her health. USCIS found that Mrs. Raghebi made this showing of “extreme hardship,” and approved an I- 601A waiver for Mr. Raghebi in February 2017.
Upon the approval of the 1-601A waiver, Mr. Raghebi left the United States on March 12, 2018 as the I-601A waiver required him to leave the United States to be able to complete the I-130 petition process. However, Mr. Raghebi, despite having been granted the I-601A waiver, has not been able to return to the United States due to the Proclamation. When Mr. Raghebi left the United States, he believed that he would be able to return under the waiver process outlined in the Proclamation.
In March 2018, Mr. Raghebi had his green card interview with the U.S. embassy in Abu Dhabi. At that time, Mr. Raghebi attempted to present materials to demonstrate that his qualifications for a waiver of the travel ban. The consular officer did not ask to see these materials and did not ask Mr. Raghebi any questions related to his eligibility for a waiver. Mr. Raghebi was told he would learn whether he can return to the United States in two to three months. However, more than four months since his consular interview, Mr. Raghebi still has not received a determination on whether he will be granted a waiver under the Proclamation.
Mr. Raghebi is currently living in Turkey, as it is one of the few countries that does not require a visa for Iranian nationals. He is afraid to return to Iran, and wants to return to the United States to be with his wife of over seven years.
The separation of these spouses has been emotionally devastating for each of them. They speak every day by telephone, and Mrs. Raghebi has traveled to Turkey to see her husband. Mrs. Raghebi suffers from a residual health condition that resulted from a severe bout of shingles, which causes her much pain, and the pain has been exacerbated by the stress caused by the separation from her husband. Mrs. Raghebi now takes anti-depressants to help her cope with the emotional toll of the separation. The separation has also caused financial hardship to the Raghebis, who own a window and glass installation business. Without Mr. Raghebi, who had performed much of the work of the business, the business’s revenues are at one third of what they were when Mr. Raghebi was here in the United States. Without a waiver, these spouses of over seven years cannot be together, they suffer emotionally without each other, and the business they own together has significantly declined.