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Mobile Partner Scott Hetrick recently helped a Paraguayan-born U.S. citizen resolve an E-Verify issue that was preventing her from retaining employment. The more than yearlong pro bono case proved to be a team effort, with Hetrick consulting with attorneys and a staff member in multiple Adams and Reese offices.

Hetrick began working with his client through the South Alabama Volunteer Lawyers Program in the fall of 2015. A U.S. citizen, the client was born in Paraguay in 1987, adopted by an American couple when she was four months old, and raised in Baldwin County, Alabama. Through her adoption, she became a U.S. citizen.

In 2012, the client began having difficulty retaining employment because of a data mismatch reported by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) as part of the E-Verify employment eligibility process. The issue stemmed from a mismatched name reported on the client’s original Paraguayan birth certificate – of which she only had an uncertified translator’s copy – and the name appearing on her Social Security card. Because Hetrick’s client did not have an original birth certificate, she had difficulty resolving the issue with the SSA herself, and at one point in the process, her citizenship came into question.

When Hetrick contacted the SSA, he was advised the problem could be resolved with a court order changing the client’s name to match her Social Security card. Hetrick then filed a name change petition in Alabama’s Baldwin County Probate Court in December 2015. Unfortunately, the court dismissed the petition in the summer of 2016 because it would not accept anything other than an original birth certificate. Hetrick then consulted with Tampa Associate Ira Gonzalez, who contacted the Paraguay consulate in an unsuccessful attempt to get certification of the birth certificate copy.

Next, he reached out to Washington, D.C. Regional Office Manager Courtney Jowers for assistance in working with the Embassy of Paraguay in Washington. Jowers learned that certified copies of birth certificates can only be obtained in person in Paraguay. Armed with this information, Hetrick spent some time attempting to locate a law firm in Paraguay to assist in the matter.

In a stroke of luck, Hetrick’s client was able to locate her original Paraguayan birth certificate in December 2016. With the new document, Hetrick quickly filed a second name change petition that was granted by the Baldwin County Probate Judge in January 2017. On the same day, he accompanied his client to the SSA office and was able to resolve the E-Verify issue.

“Thanks to cross-office cooperation, we worked together to help our client resolve the name inconsistencies in her birth certificate and Social Security card,” Hetrick said. “She can now move through E-Verify process successfully and obtain employment without any issues.”