International News

Houston Doctors Facing Removal by Immigration Granted Temporary Stay

Image taken from the Houston Chronicle

Image taken from the Houston Chronicle

Dr. Pankaj Satija, a neurologist at the Pain and Headache Centers of Texas, and his wife Dr. Monika Ummat, a neurologist specializing in epilepsy at Texas’s Children Hospital, have been asked by the immigration officials to shift back to their motherland India. They have been given an extension of 90 days, till the paper work gets sorted out to legally reside in the United States.

The couple have been in the US for more than 10 years and came for research to obtain medical residency. But this Thursday they faced removal from the immigration office when the officials did not extend their temporary stay permit.

Satija was sponsored by the Houston Methodist Hospital System in 2008, but due to the laws restricting the number of immigrants who can obtain permanent residency every year and a huge backlog in the entire process, Satija was given a provisional status for their stay in the US. The entire process is so backlogged that people who applied for their green card in 2008 are only receiving it currently.

It all started last year when their travel document was extended for only one year, when it usually is for two years according to the couple’s employment authorization.

To make matters worse the Customs Border and Protection officials stamped their travel document to expire in June 2017, whereas the US Citizenship and Immigration services had a record that their document expires in June 2016.

The couple did not take any notice of the inconsistency until last October when they had to suddenly travel to India. When they returned back, at the airport the Custom and Border Protector official noted the inconsistency but comforted them that is was no big deal.

They were allowed into the country under the deferred inspection program, which allows people to enter the country to fix issues in their paper work.

Every month their temporary permission was extended until the surgeons waited for their green cards. But this Thursday they were informed that the government has put forward new rules in February and their temporary permission can no longer be extended.

Satija along with his family will now be leaving US in a couple of weeks, completing his scheduled surgeries and patient’s appointments.

April 3, 2017

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