An Indian woman, who lost her residency rights in the US following the murder of her techie husband in a suspected hate crime, can stay in the country for now after an influential lawmaker helped her get a temporary work visa.
Sunayana Dumala, whose 32-year-old husband Srinivas Kuchibhotla was killed at a Kansas bar in February, fell out of status because her permission to reside in the US was tied to Kuchibhotla through marriage, Congressman Kevin Yoder was quoted as saying by the NBC News.
"We're not going to let this happen to Sunayana," Yoder said on twitter.
Dumala managed to regain her residency status as she lost it after the assassination of her husband.
Kuchibhotla, an aviation systems engineer and programmes manager at GPS maker Garmin, was in the US on a temporary non-immigrant H-1B visa, granted to highly skilled workers.
"When Sunayana lost her status, to me it really added insult to injury," Yoder told NBC news.
Yoder later helped her get a temporary work visa of her own.
"It would have been a real tragedy, on top of the initial tragedy she suffered, to attend her husband's funeral in India and then be locked out of the US because of it," Yoder was quoted as saying by The New York Times.
"This woman suffered enough. We need to fix this," he said.
In a Facebook post, Yoder said Dumala lost her husband Srinivas in the tragic shooting at Austin's Bar and Grill in Olathe - a senseless murder no one should ever have to endure.
"But because of 'unfair backlogs' on green card, Sunayana was faced with the prospect of having to return home to India because of her visa status," he said.
"Thankfully, we were able to help her stay for now and are working towards a permanent fix, but if our bill had already been signed into law she would likely have already gained permanent residence and would not have faced the threat of deportation on top of the horrific loss of her loving husband," Yoder said.
Yoder said he has corresponded with Dumala and met with her several times.
Dumala was part of a group of Indian immigrants who came to support the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, according to Yoder, the bill's lead sponsor.
The legislation seeks to eliminate the per-country cap for employment-based immigrants, allowing green cards to instead be given on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Between 230,000 and two million Indian workers are in line for a green card, which means that they could be waiting for decades, if not longer, he said.
"Many of us think this is an injustice, it's discriminatory, and the system is failing people like Srinivas and Sunayana," he said arguing that the law should explicitly address people whose spouses are the targets of hate crimes.
"I think we ought to have a special exception. You don't get deported because your husband was murdered. They don't come and grab you at a funeral and say, Now you've lost your status," Yoder said.
Adam Purinton is accused of fatally shooting Kuchibhotla after using "racial slurs" and yelling "get out of my country".
Two others - Kuchibhotla's friend Alok Madasani, from India, and patron Ian Grillot, who intervened - were wounded in the attack.
Purinton awaits a state trial on one count of premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of attempted premeditated first-degree murder.