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Laschenova Takes Latest Step In Immigration Quest
(8 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

As her lawyer prepares for a court conference this week to review her immigration status, Olympic gold medalist Natalia Laschenova told IG she is hopeful but realistic in her latest step to legally remain in the U.S. and continue her coaching career.


World and Olympic champion Natalia Laschenova is fighting to stay in the United States

"Every year for at least the last six years, I have thought I had a good chance, and it's always been negative," she said. "So I can't say now what my chances are. It's not month-by-month. It's day-by-day."

A native of Latvia, Laschenova competed for the Soviet Union at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, where she won a team gold medal and finished fifth all-around. She won the all-around silver medal and another team gold at the 1989 world championships in Stuttgart.

Laschenova, who came to the U.S. with her family on Christmas Day 1999, had been employed since then as a coach at various gyms.

In January 2010, her latest employer, Integrity Gymnastics in Plain City, Ohio, received a notice from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that her petition for an employment-based immigrant visa was denied, reopened and denied again.

Attorney Gus M. Shihab of Shihab & Associates in Columbus, Ohio, offered his services to Laschenova after seeing a news report on her plight last year. Shihab will represent Laschenova at a conference in federal court that is scheduled for this week.

"The USCIS has rejected our offer to engage in a mediation to try to settle this case," Shihab told IG. "The USCIS would like to move forward with a motion for summary judgment, meaning that there is no need for the law suit to continue and the court must make a decision based on the evidence already available in the prior filing that Natalia had previously submitted. We also intend to file a motion for summary judgment as well, on the same basis, more importantly on Natalia's one-time life achievement, i.e., her Olympic gold medal."

Laschenova said she is frustrated by the failure of her previous attorney to renew her visa in 2007, an oversight that led to her legal problems. She subsequently received work authorization that was later denied.

"They said it's not enough of an excuse why I'm without a visa since 2007," Laschenova said. "My current lawyer explained to them that it's not my fault. I paid my former lawyer. She promised me she would do everything and I would have a green card. It makes no sense to me that, in 2008, they gave me work authorization, and, in 2010, they denied everything that I had."

Following Shihab's meeting in court, he said the judge will make a decision as to whether Laschenova's green card application should be approved.

Laschenova said the process of securing the right to legally remain and work in the U.S. continues to be an uneasy challenge.

"Some days you just need to be brave," she told IG. "The bridge is gone and I don't have another step. But the next morning I wake up and I say, 'I can see another step.' And I just walk. I don't know where I'm going, but at least it's somewhere."

Comments (9)add comment

Daymon Montaigne-Jones said:

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I understand....Im an American and have worked in 6 different countries and it it always a pain in the but to get the right papers....The girl has an Olympic gold medal....give her a fricken visa!
 
October 04, 2011
Votes: +10

Willard Felsen said:

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The Canadians are more open minded. If Laschenova
can't get a green card, maybe she can get Canadian
citizenship. Canadians come and go across the border.
Then so could she.
 
October 04, 2011
Votes: +3

Willard Felsen said:

0
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One way around the impasse might be to get Canadian
cigtizenship -- they are more open minded. Then work
on either side of the open border.
 
October 04, 2011
Votes: +4

Alison Clements said:

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Good luck Natalia. The British or Australians will have you, no worries!smilies/grin.gif
 
October 04, 2011
Votes: +5

A.R. said:

0
Laschenova
Her employer made a huge mistake by filing paperwork against immigration
and Natalia shouldn't have followed that plan either.
She could have entered the U.S. with a job contract and a work
permit like some entertainers and other foreign nationals do,having
everything in order. I don't think she planned this well at all.
She could have also checked with lawyers on how she could get a work permit
and her papers approved by Immigration once she arrived to the United States.
Let's hope she is not deported. She could try Canada, however it is not easy to work and stay over there either even if she was an olympian and the fact that she is having problems in the U.S. could complicate things because this can all reflect in her passport. However they have different laws,hopefully she could do better over there and get her Canadian residence
in 2 years,but first she has to fulfill their requirements.
 
October 05, 2011
Votes: -3

Raye said:

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As a Canadian who works in the States I can tell you the problem isn't her citizenship. It wouldn't matter if she were a Canadian citizen as the immigration process to procure the proper work visa is the same for anyone. It is a very serious and complicated process and if she failed to comply at any point in the past that is in her records and where she lives won't change the rules. The best she can hope for is a compassionate judge. The INS don't take kindly to mistakes... honest or not.
 
October 05, 2011
Votes: +0

A.R. said:

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Her case is so complicated, I guess she thought things were going
to be easy for her since she competed in the Olympics. At this point
she doesn't know what is going to happen to her and she is scared,I
hope things turn out well for her. Going to that lawyer has complicated
things for her even more, I don't know how he is helping her. At this
point I am not sure how she can adjust her status(that is the issue).If
she would have put a gymnastics club and invested in that business like
the Karolyis did,that would have helped her immensely. That is what helped
them and Valery Liukin stay in the U.S. and both of them came with no
money, Karolyi I think borrowed money and he made more money than he ever
thought possible. That could be her only alternative. In some cases,
world and olympic coaches put their own clubs in the countries they want
to stay at and that enables them to get a permanent residence,of course
they have to get as many students as possible to pay off the bills.
I will keep praying for her.
 
October 05, 2011
Votes: +0

Me said:

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I'd try to help her pass her US citizenship test if I could.
 
October 08, 2011
Votes: +0

Dallas Cowboys Jerseys said:

0
good
I really believe that these social networks will have a huge impact on what we can accomplish as groups, it’ll help us be very organized and communicate.
 
October 19, 2011 | url
Votes: +0

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