Losing One’s Place

My colleague and friend is going to leave the U.S. in about a month.  He does not want to do so.

He is a foreign national from Pakistan.  He came here in 1990 to go to college, fell in love with Western New York, and has never left.  Last summer his attorney told him that based on his applications for both a green card and U.S. citizenship he would not have to re-apply for an H1B visa, which allows him to stay and work in the U.S. in 3-year increments.

His attorney was wrong.  As a result, Ali’s visa expired and now there is little chance that he will be able to continue his employment with us after January.  He is being forced to return to Pakistan in order to apply for a new visa that will allow him back in the U.S.  The process could take upwards of a year to complete.

All this while Pakistan erupts into chaos.

Did you ever see the movie The Terminal?  Tom Hanks portrays Victor Navorsky, a person stuck at JFK International Airport when his country undergoes a war that essentially wipes their government off the map.  I feel like Ali is about to be stuck in the same position.  He can’t go home, and he can’t stay here.

This story does not have a happy ending.  It will literally take an act of Congress to change the INS ruling.  So our company decided to call Congressman Higgins’ office to see if there is anything he can do to help.  This is a long shot but frankly, it’s worth the effort if it helps my friend stay in the U.S.

After 17 years in the U.S. Ali is no longer Pakistani.  I fear for my friend’s safety and for the loss that our company will face when he can no longer work for us.


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