British family finally gets American Dream

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- The Carrolls have lived in America for nearly 12 years. Their kids have grown up here. They own a home in Chandler. John works for the U.S. branch of a British company. Yet they have been denied citizenship three times.

The Carroll family moved to the U.S. in 2001 for John’s work, and fell in love with the country. Since that time, they’ve spent $50,000 and countless hours filing paper work to become citizens. They went through the process three times and every time they were denied, once because their immigration attorney mistakenly wrote down a wrong address on the forms.

“There’s got to be something in the system that’s broken because there’s folks like us that do all the expected things," John said. "We do them in the way we are supposed to and we fall through the cracks."

“This is our home," Helen said. "This is where we want to live. This is our life, and this is where we’ve been for 12 years."

3TV started following the Carrolls in 2008, at a turning point in their journey. Their daughter, Vicki, married an American sailor, which meant she could become a citizen.

Friday, Vicki finally had her naturalization ceremony, alongside 56 other people from 23 countries.

“It’s finally here," Vicki said. "All I can think about is how I can keep my parents safe.”

Vicki will now be able to sponsor her parents, which means they should get their green cards in the next few months.

“She’s keeping us safe," Helen said. "It means so much, not just for her, but for our whole family. It means we can stay and she can sponsor us. We get our green cards really quickly. It is a very emotional day for us."

Once John and Helen have their green cards, they will sponsor their 20-year-old son, Michael, so he can get his green card. The couple’s other son, Stephen, is married and already a citizen.

A representative from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said it is extremely rare for the process to take this long.

“They were probably ineligible to begin with,” Marie Sebrechts said.

Sebrechts said that because the Carrolls did not have a family member to sponsor them in 2001, and because John’s British company could not sponsor them, they needed to wait to have a family member available to sponsor.