By Mac Hightower
Stuttgart Citizen volunteer
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect that Ms. Chang is no longer volunteering at the Stuttgart Legal Center. She has since taken a position with the garrison as a Victim Advocate.
Patricia Chang specialized in helping families and individuals prepare documents for U.S. citizenship while logging 1,202 hours of service at the Stuttgart Law Center (SLC) as a legal assistant.
“I decided to study immigrant law because I know how hard it is to become a citizen,” says Chang.
An immigrant herself, Chang experienced first-hand the pain of being separated from her husband as she and their two-year-old son and one-year-old daughter waited eight months for her Green Card to be approved so she could return to the United States, this time for good.
After studying law in Taiwan and working as an account lawyer, Chang moved to the U.S. to continue her studies at American University in Washington, DC. There, she fell in love and eventually got married to her spouse, who was working in the Pentagon at the time.
Compelled to help other families avoid the same stress that she and her family went through, Chang reached out to the SLC when she and her family relocated to Stuttgart in 2018, offering to volunteer and help develop its immigration law program.
“With the current administration, immigration law is always changing,” Chang said.
But couples can breathe a little easier with an expert on their side. After Chang’s arrival at the SLC in 2019, the center saw a 600% increase in immigration clients, and Chang serviced over 115 of them. Even more impressive is that none have been rejected in their immigration applications.
Chang’s duties included giving consultations that allow clients to ask for expert advice and opinions on confusing matters, conducting monthly naturalization workshops that entail teaching participants how to file for citizenship and Green Cards, and informing garrison leadership of changing laws and their potential impacts on military affiliates and their families.
Chang said, “I feel so good when a client leaves feeling more confident, with a smile on their face.”