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Acclaimed violinist denied green card, appeal pending

A top-tier professional violin player has been denied permanent residence in the U.S. because of the lack of prestige of her employer. The woman, like many in Texas, came to the States with a dream of pursuing a music career; she obtained an undergraduate music degree and was able to land a permanent position at the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra in North Carolina. However, an immigration official has denied the woman's application for entering the path to citizenship, even though her attorney says she should be considered "an alien of extraordinary ability" and allowed to remain in the country.

News reports show that some immigrants are allowed to remain in the country simply because of their outstanding skills. Take, for example, a Nobel Prize winner. The woman in this case has won a significant number of international awards for her violin playing, but the immigration evaluation determined that she did not perform a "leading or critical role" for the Charlotte musical organization. The woman's attorneys have filed an appeal, and it is not clear when a second decision will be made in her case.

The woman was hired at the Charlotte Symphony as an associate concertmaster. During the most recent season, she moved to Utah to act as an assistant concertmaster there. Her most recent professional accomplishment: Landing a second-chair position at the prestigious San Francisco Symphony. Still, she says that her biggest goal is to get her green card so she can continue to work legally in the country.

Too many exceptional immigrants are turned away from our nation's borders because of unfair judgments. In this type of case, decisions can be incredibly subjective, and adjudicators may not entirely understand the nature of the immigrant's impact on a community. Persistence is key when facing green card rejection, as appeals may be necessary to reach the right decision-maker.

Source: Charlotte Observer, "Former Charlotte Symphony violinist fights for citizenship" Lawrence Toppman, Jul. 23, 2014

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