When Amanda and her parents immigrated to the United States to start a new life, they had to leave her brother, who was unable to obtain a visa, behind in Brazil. Though the distance between them was a source of great heartache, Amanda chose to make the best of her opportunities in the U.S., exploring her love of language through the travel industry program at UC Berkeley.
At her church in Oakland, Amanda met Celedonio, who also had immigrated to the U.S. to further his studies. Originally from Mexico, Celedonio had arrived in the U.S. with his family, and with the help of IIBA, he gained permanent residency status. Granted the ability to work, he launched his career as a chemical engineer. When he became eligible, Celedonio applied for citizenship.
Over time, Celedonio and Amanda fell in love and decided to marry. Amanda obtained a permanent resident card, which enabled her to pursue a career in medicine. She studied hard to pass her exams, and she now works as a nurse at Stanford.
Like Celedonio, as soon as Amanda became eligible for citizenship, she applied. She feels citizenship is important, “First of all, to vote. We really love to vote and be part of the society.” Celedonio adds, as a citizen, “You feel more protected.”
With citizenship, Celedonio and Amanda have been able to travel more freely, taking medical missions to Nicaragua, where they chaperone medical and nursing students who provide aid in rural villages. There Celedonio uses his skills as a chemical engineer to teach communities about renewable energy.
“One of the best things you can do in this world is helping people,” Celedonio says.
In 2010, Amanda, her parents and Celedonio traveled to Brazil to visit her brother, where Celedonio would meet him for the first time. “Everyone was at the airport. Everyone was happy and laughing and giving kisses and hugs,” Celedonio said.
However, once again, when Amanda’s family left Brazil, her brother had to stay behind. Upon her return to the U.S., Amanda took steps toward fulfilling a dream she’d held for eighteen years: reuniting her family in the United States. Through IIBA, Amanda’s family applied for her brother’s green card. In November 2017, Amanda’s family was finally reunited.
Amanda and Celedonio support and recommend IIBA’s services, with the hopes that many more families will be able to reunite.