(WPRI) – A Syrian native working towards a master’s degree at Brown University has been forced to put this on hold, after the president’s travel ban delayed his process to reapply for a visa back to the United States.
Khaled Almilaji is stuck in Turkey, after his visa to the U.S. was revoked, and the travel ban delayed his process to reapply for a new visa.
“My visa was revoked and that literally happened before the executive order,” said Almilaji. He’s still not sure what caused his visa to be revoked in the first place.
Almilaji is a Syrian native, who graduated from medical school in Aleppo before the civil war. His resume is full of humanitarian efforts, such as coordinating underground hospitals in war-torn Syria, and vaccinating more than a million children against polio. Not everyone supported Almilaji’s efforts, however.
“They interrogate[d], they electrified, they hit, they burn[ed],” said Almilaji of being kidnapped in Syria and tortured for six months.
After being released, Almilaji and his wife fled to Turkey, and lived there until moving to Rhode Island last August.
After a successful first semester at Brown, pursuing a degree in Public Health, Almilaji decided to spend his winter break overseas, to check in on his many humanitarian efforts. It was supposed to be a one week trip, until his visa was revoked just three days before President Trump’s travel ban went into effect. Almilaji was stranded and could not get back.
“I don’t know if the criteria will be different now in the Department of Homeland Security,” Almilaji says of reapplying for his visa after a federal judge granted a stay of the president’s travel ban.
Almilaji is not alone in his efforts. Brown University officials and Rhode Island’s senior senator, and ranking member of the Armed Services committee, Jack Reed, are also working to bring Almilaji home.
Even though the immigration ban has been lifted, Almilaji and many others in the same situation don’t know how long they have until the president puts a new immigration order into action.
“I’m telling all of my friends stay strong. Everything will be okay.”