FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.com) - Two sisters are getting the gift they were hoping for this Christmas season: the chance to stay in the United States with their families.
Oli Snyder and Jelena Boldt were born in communist Yugoslavia, a country which no longer exists.
Twenty five years ago, they came to America legally on their father’s work visa.
Oli was 11 years old and Jelena was almost seven at the time.
When their parents divorced a few years later, the sisters were placed in deportation status, but no action was taken until this summer.
Even though, by then, both were married to U.S. citizens and Snyder had three children, the sisters would be deported to Serbia, a country they’d never even been to.
“It just seemed like it was yesterday,” Boldt said. “It was in June we just got out of nowhere that we need to be packing up and leaving, in two weeks. At that point, it was a point of no return.”
“We had to leave in two weeks is how it all started,” Snyder said, “We got our house ready to sell, and put it on the market and were just prepared for anything.”
The sisters’ husbands and Snyder’s three children were planning to go to Serbia with the women.
“I didn’t know if I was going to stay with my mom, if I was moving, if I was staying,” said Snyder’s 13-year-old daughter Claudia. “It was like I really didn’t know if it was going to happen or not.”
Their situation has changed a lot since the summer. The judge who ordered the sisters to be deported agreed to reopen their cases.
Friday, the family finally got the news they were hoping for. In two weeks both sisters are receiving green cards, proof of their legal and permanent residency in the United States.
“The decision that was made to deport us has been overturned!” Boldt said. “You can’t help but just to cry and let everything out.”
“It’s something my parents hoped for us, and wanted for us, and been fighting for 25 years, and it’s happened!” Snyder said, overwhelmed with joy. “For god to give us this journey, I think it’s amazing.”
“It’s a huge relief,” said Steve Boldt, Jelena’s husband of a year and a half, “It feels like this whole burden has been lifted off of all of us.”
“We love the United States, I was born here; I’m from here. She’s as American as I am, a lot of times probably more,” said Daniel Snyder’s, Oli’s husband of 15 years. “We’re all from somewhere else, that’s what this country is all about.”
Now, this Christmas, the family has one gift they could never put a price tag on.
“We have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to celebrate,” Boldt said, “I couldn’t ask for a better Christmas present.”
“Yeah… it will be a good Christmas,” Snyder said.
The two sisters can apply for citizenship in three years.