Star Student in Immigration Flap Will Be Home for Graduation
(FRANKFORT, Ind.) — High school senior Elizabeth Olivas is coming home. After getting caught up on an immigration technicality in her native Mexico, the Frankfort Indiana High School homecoming queen will get to walk with her classmates at graduation on Saturday.
The U.S. State Department confirmed to her immigration lawyer, Sarah L. Moshe, that Olivas was given a visa to come back to the United States, Moshe told ABC News.
“The waiver was approved, and we just finished issuing and printing her visa,” an email from the State Department said. “We gave her the visa packet and I assume she will be leaving the Consulate momentarily (visa in hand!). Congrats and best of luck to Elizabeth and her family! She is very lucky to have such a great team working on her behalf.”
Olivas has lived in the U.S. since age 4, and her father is a naturalized U.S. citizen. But after turning 18, according to the law, she had 180 days to return to Mexico to apply for a long-term visa to the United States. Without that visa she would become an illegal immigrant. So she and her father took the trip down to the Juarez consulate, only to realize they counted dates wrong because of the leap year. Olivas was late by one day, initially told she would not be issued her long-term visa and, without a “humanitarian parole” visa waiver, she would not be able to enter the United States again for three years.
But even the waiver process can be complicated. Waivers can take anywhere from three to eight months to be issued. Olivas couldn’t wait that long. She’d already been in Mexico for six weeks, missing most of her high school senior milestones, including prom and an academic achievement ceremony. With a near 4.0 grade point average, the star athlete is set to graduate as one of the top students at the school. She is also supposed to give the salutation speech at graduation, which seemed unlikely before her case received a global outcry.
Frankfort High School Principal Steve Edwards told the Indianapolis Star that students were sad at the thought of Olivas not being with them for graduation and that the situation was one of the hardest things he’s ever dealt with.
“This is a very skilled, talented, beautiful young lady,” he said.
But now Olivas and her classmates will be able to celebrate both their graduation and her homecoming. She told Moshe via text message that she was excited and grateful.
“JUST GOT OUT VISA IN MY HANDS,” read the text. ” IM COMING HOME! THANK YOU SO MUCH, IM SOO HAPPY!”
Moshe told ABC News Olivas and her family are grateful for all the attention and concern over the teen’s plight.
“We take this opportunity to thank everyone for the outpouring of support for Elizabeth and her family,” Moshe said. “She will certainly enjoy a well-deserved graduation celebration on Saturday!”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio