Immigrant says her career choice may force her to leave US

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Our complex immigration system is causing problems for a woman who hasn’t broken the law and wants to stay here.

Akanksha Narasimhan is being forced to resign from her job because of what some are calling needlessly complicated work visa rules.

International students in science, technology, engineering or math can work in the United States for up to three years after graduating, as part of a practical training program under American law.

That’s what Narasimhan thought she could do when she graduated with a master’s degree in death investigation and took a job with the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s office a year ago.

But she and her employer, and her school, Syracuse University, were all surprised to learn that Akanksha must resign her job on July 1 and return to India because her forensic science education was classified under federal rules as a law enforcement career, not a STEM career.

“I love this job,” Narasimhan said of her position as a death investigator. “I love what it entails. I love helping out people. Unfortunately there is no equivalent back home. There’s no, ‘I can do the same thing back home kind of thing.’ I would love to continue and help out and learn more as I work, over here in the United States.”

Akanksha said unlike doctors or engineers, there aren’t a lot of international students who pursue degrees in forensic science and death investigation. Because of that, it seems everyone involved didn’t understand the regulations.

Her supervisors in Jackson County say they have a hard time recruiting qualified death investigators. They want her to stay and are willing to sponsor Akanksha for a work visa, even though she probably can’t get one based on her education classification.

Akanksha’s education program is being reclassified as a science but it’s too late for her. That may only help future international students.

Friends and coworkers are raising money to help Akanksha explore legal options to continue working for Jackson County. For more information click here.

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