Frances McIntosh: Striving to Become a U. S. Citizen

Frances McIntosh is caught between two worlds. A native of Scotland, she moved to Lafayette in 2002 with her three children when her husband was offered a job in the oil industry. She shared the story with Jan Swift of Discover Lafayette of what many immigrants go through when they apply for permanent residency in the U. S.

When her marriage ended in 2009, that divorce decree triggered the need for Frances to obtain an independent Visa to be able to stay in the U. S. legally with her children, who would also each need to obtain their own Visa once they finished their schooling. At the time of her divorce, she was studying to be a dietician at UL-Lafayette and she was able to stay in the U. S. with her children while on a Student Visa as she finished her studies.

The family has now been split apart as a result of U. S. immigration laws, and the results have been heartbreaking.

Frances’ two sons have already had to return to Scotland as they had no way of staying in the U.S. when they aged out of their mother’s Visa at 21. To stay would have been illegal. Her daughter is now studying music sound engineering at the Music Institute in Los Angeles and can remain in the states while she stays in school.

Frances’ plight presents the opportunity to review immigration laws and better understand how difficult it is to become a U. S. citizen. Listening to her story also is a poignant opportunity to learn how much people from around the world desire to live here, work here, and raise their families here.

Many have heard of the Green Card Lottery (Diversity Immigrant Visa) which is bestowed to 50,000 people each year from qualified countries that the U. S. recognizes in an attempt to diversify the immigrant population. This doesn’t help Frances as citizens of the United Kingdom, which includes Scotland, are not eligible.

For her children, DACA is also not helpful. “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival” is an immigration option for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before the age of 16. Her three children were documented, here legally, and therefore ineligible for assistance under the “Dreamers” program. “Current legislation to help over two million dreamers leaves out thousands of deserving children who were brought to the United States under legal nonimmigrant visas (often as a child dependent of investor or high-skilled E, H, or L visas), have known no other home, and could be subject to deportation upon turning 21 or losing their temporary visa statuses.” Legislation, known as “The Promise Act,” HR 2124, is pending in Congress which will help immigrant children who grew up here legally to have the opportunity stay in the U. S. For more details see

Immigration laws are complex and intended to protect our borders. For anyone interested in learning more about the various ways people can obtain permanent residency cards and apply for citizenship visit