Stranded Student Might Return; Mother May Have To Leave

Stranded Student Might Return; Mother May Have To Leave

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OREM, Utah (AP) -- A Brigham Young University student stranded in Lima, Peru, may be allowed to return next month, but his mother may be forced to return to Peru permanently, the family and their attorney said.

Alex Castro, 17, will have to wait until December, a month before winter classes begin at BYU, before immigration officials will reconsider his request for a student visa, unless his mother's application for a business visa is approved before then.

"All the documents under the law are OK, and I don't understand why the U.S. Embassy in Peru wants to take more time," said Castro's mother, Eurocia. "My son has a hope that the time will pass soon."

Officials from the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in Salt Lake City denied a request by the family's attorney for a letter acknowledging Castro's status as a legal U.S. resident.

The attorney, S. Austin Johnson, requested the letter after U.S. Embassy officials in Lima said a letter was required for the teenager to obtain a student visa.

The bureau told the family it was not common practice to write letters of that nature and that the embassy should be able to make a decision based on a review of documents already obtained from the family.

Castro's parents applied for a business visa for their copyright and patent business in Orem. Under this type of visa, their son would be considered a legal resident.

However, Castro's legal status came into question after the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services reportedly lost the original application and the family began the process of reapplying.

While waiting for the new application to be processed, Castro was accepted at BYU and told by school officials that he needed to return to Peru for a student visa. He left his home in Orem for Lima nearly two months ago.

He was banned from returning after U.S. Embassy officials said he had been living illegally in the United States for more than a year because the business visa had not gone through.

If the business visa is not approved, Eurocia would be evicted from the United States.

"She's wondering if they're just trying to pressure her to give up and go back home," said Johnson.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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