Stranded Students

Valentin, Micaela, Rocio, Maximiliano, and Augustin are all graduate students from Argentina. They came to Leavenworth, WA, to work the winter season at Steven’s Pass but after the ski season ended, their flights home were cancelled because of the COVID-19 crisis. Then, Argentina closed its borders.

Their J1 workers VISAs expire at the end of May. They are very concerned that they’re here in the US legally and have submitted their extension papers by mail but all immigration offices they’ve contacted are closed.  Their worry is that they won’t have jobs and though they’re all working locally now, that will end when their VISAs expire.

They’re staying in a rental house now, which the kind landlord forgave the rent for this month because of the situation. But there is no guarantee for the next three months.

These youth have enjoyed their experiences living, working and practicing their English in the US but ‘not knowing’ when they can return home is frustrating and upsetting. They’re trusting that the immigration center in Texas where they have mailed their visa extension papers will respond soon so they can work legally and support themselves.

On September 1, American Airlines will hopefully begin flying again to South America and honor their open-ended tickets home and Argentina will open its border again. All the students face a two week quarantine at their own expense when they return.  Meanwhile, the students will continue working on their online university classes since their regular classes are closed at home, just like all students here.


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