Sunayana Dumala, widowed from the Kansas shooting in February, is now relying on a temporary employment authorization document so she can stay in the U.S.
Dumala, whose residency status was tied to her husband, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, was terminated when the latter was killed on February 22.
Kuchibhotla, who worked as an aviation systems engineer and program manager at GPS manufacturer Garmin, was in the U.S. on an H-1B visa, a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to hire foreigners in specialty occupations.
Kuchibhotla, 32, was shot by Adam Purinton, then 51, in an alleged hate crime that wounded two others — his companion Alok Madasani, who also worked at Garmin, and Ian Grillot, who intervened.
Following the shooting at a bar in Olathe, Kansas, Dumala went to India for her husband’s funeral and returned to the U.S. with the fear of being locked out. She works as a developer for for Intouch Solutions, a pharmaceutical marketing agency.
Dumala was eventually assisted by Rep. Kevin Yoder, a Republican from Kansas’ third district, who learned about her plight and helped her secure an employment authorization document.
“I think we ought to have a special exception,” Yoder told The New York Times. “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.’”
The document, however, is only good for 12 months. With this, Dumala is reportedly applying for her own H-1B visa, as well as a non-immigrant U visa, which is given to victims of certain crimes.
For now, Dumala is among those supporting the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, which Yoder is a lead sponsor of. The bill aims to eliminate the per-country cap for immigrants coming on the basis of employment and grants green cards on a first come, first served basis, according to NBC News.