A place to call home at 99

Tears of joy flowed as I informed my 99-year-old client of the good news.

I began my representation of Khatoun, an Armenian woman from Iran, 4 years ago when she was 95.  A Lawful Permanent Resident of the United States, she had just returned from her native country of Iran after a 2 year absence from the U.S.  Prior to her trip, she petitioned to bring her husband, who was still in Iran, to the U.S.  During that process, unfortunately, he was diagnosed with brain cancer.


At the age of 93, Khatoun traveled to Iran to care for her ailing husband who lived two more years before succumbing to the disease.  Too old to return to the U.S. on her own, Khatoun had to wait for her daughter to travel from the U.S. to Iran and escort her back to the States.

Upon her return, she was inspected and released by immigration authorities but had been given a notice to appear before an Immigration Judge.  A Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card Holder) can be placed in removal (deportation) proceedings if he or she has been absent from the country for more than 6 months.

The Department of Homeland Security brought charges to revoke Khatoun’s green card and have her removed from the U.S.  After several hearings, I was able to convince the Judge that Khatoun always had the intent of returning to the U.S. and that her lengthy departure was caused by extraordinary circumstances beyond her control.  The Judge terminated the proceedings, thus enabling Khatoun to retain her green card and remain in the U.S. with her children and grandchildren.

Today, at 99 years old and the oldest person at today’s ceremony of over 7,500 applicants, she became a U.S. Citizen.  Because of her longevity and determination to become a U.S. Citizen, she received preferential treatment and was interviewed and filmed by local and nationwide media.

When Khatoun, whose uncles were massacred in the Armenian Genocide, who lived through 2 world wars, the Iran/Iraq war, and the Iranian Revolution, was asked what she thinks of the United States, she said, “There is no country like the U.S. because the U.S. treats all of its citizens with respect.”  When asked what her secret is for living a long life, she smiled and responded, “I’m always happy and my happiness comes from helping other people.”

As her attorney, I couldn’t agree more.  

by: Peter A. Hosharian.

Peter Hosharian is an attorney of 18 years in the Los Angeles area and has been published in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.


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