CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) — Pramiti is 16. She lost her mother to cancer two years ago and her father to a heart attack this spring. She has lived in the UK since she was little but has no other relatives close to her.
After her parents died, her aunt and uncle in Charlotte swung into action.
They wanted to give him stability after his life had been shaken so badly. But after exploring many leads, they don’t have a clear answer on how to bring their underage niece home.
“The trauma that this child has gone through in the past five years, I don’t think many of us go through in a lifetime,” said Pramiti’s uncle, Aun Kallikadivil.
When Pramiti’s parents passed away, she contacted her uncle Arun and his wife Sushila. They were chosen as Pramiti’s legal guardians.
Their first idea was to adopt her but because she is 16, US immigration law does not allow it.
“She really wants to be with us and more than once she said I felt comfortable with any of you around me,” Arun said.
Arun said that after consulting more than 30 immigration lawyers across the country, the family attempted to secure a student visa for Pramiti. Because she has no extended family in the UK, the consulate determined the teenager did not have strong enough ties to bring her back.
It became an immigration issue.
“It took a lot of persuasion to say we’re going to uproot you, and then we say you might not know because someone in authority has determined you can’t,” Arun said.
Now Sushila is in the UK with the 16-year-old trying to figure out what to do next.
Sushila, an American resident, is on a countdown. She can only stay for six months before it becomes a whole new immigration issue.
“Our situation is that we feel helpless and we don’t know what to do,” Arun said.
Arun contacted WBTV and we started making calls trying to find an immigration lawyer with a new idea.
“It’s very important for families to be together,” Mercer Cauley said. He’s a board-certified immigration specialist here in Charlotte.
Cauley said he saw several such cases, especially after the conflict in Ukraine began. He suggests that the family apply for humanitarian parole. It is a document that would allow Pramiti to enter the United States for a predetermined period of time on humanitarian grounds. In this case, the forced separation of Arun and Sushila and the financial difficulties of the situation.
“It allows them to come into the country, they don’t have status but they are allowed to be here and live,” Cauley said.
It’s a beacon of hope, one more thing they can pursue as they try to bring Pramiti home.
“She’s emotionally shattered, she has a brave face but she’s 16. She’s a kid,” Arun said.
Pramiti made a second attempt to get a student visa on Monday, but was denied a second time.
Arun has also started a Change.org petition to try to raise awareness of the issues his family is facing and in hopes of making this journey easier for the next family that will have to make it.
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