Following a law suit filed by her attorney in federal court, Olympic and world championships gold medalist Natalia Laschenova is awaiting a decision on her latest quest for a U.S. immigrant visa, her lawyer told IG this week.
"We filed a law suit in federal court, and, as a result, the Administrative Appeals Office of the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) reopened the case on their own motion to render a new decision," said attorney Gus M. Shihab of Shihab & Associates in Columbus, Ohio. "We submitted a voluminous brief and are now waiting for a decision."
Laschenova, a native of Latvia who competed for the Soviet Union, placed fifth all-around at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games and second all-around at the 1989 World Championships. She and her Soviet teammates won the team gold medal at both competitions. Laschenova has been coaching in the U.S. since she moved to the country on Christmas Day 1999.
In January of this year, Laschenova's former employer, Integrity Gymnastics in Plain City, Ohio, received a notice from the USCIS that her petition for an employment-based immigrant visa was denied, reopened and denied again.
Also on hold are plans for Laschenova’s daughter, Sasha Tsikhanovich, to compete on a gymnastics scholarship for Auburn University.
"They are going to wait one more year to see if Natalia’s immigration issues will be resolved," Shihab said.