USA: Immigration hurdles separate man, ailing wife
Abu Paher, a bricklayer supervisor for a small Bronx construction company, desperately wants to visit his wife, who's been hospitalized in Bangladesh with kidney disease for more than five months.
But Paher himself is trapped. He can leave the United States but with no guarantee of being allowed to return. His employer-sponsored application for a green card, in limbo for 3 1/2 years now, is part of a backlog of 310,000 pending cases nationwide. More than 32,000 of them were filed on behalf of immigrants living in New York State.
Paher's case is typical. In 1998, he says, he traded the prospect of a life in poverty in Bangladesh for the challenge of immigrating to New York, hoping to earn enough to support his wife, children and relatives back home, become a legal resident and send for them. If his application is approved, his family would be permitted here on a renewable six-month visa and then apply, with comparatively few hindrances, for legal residency.
Since Paher applied for the green card in April 2001 under the sponsorship of SM Construction Co. of the Bronx, his father-in-law has come down with cancer, his mother has died, and, more recently, his wife became ill, he said.
Meanwhile, his three children have grown up without their father in his homeland.
For now, Paher has no way of knowing when he will hear about his application; his letters to the state have yielded no new information. Because he has had to wait so long, he predicts a decision could be close, and doesn't want to blow his chances by leaving the country. He might not be permitted to return, he said, noting his visa's limitations and tighter restrictions on travel since Sept. 11, 2001.
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