Because cancer knows no borders

The doctor arrived in Boston on a J-1 visa as a visiting scholar to complete an infectious disease residency at Harvard Medical School. He would go on to practice at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, treating patients whose immune systems were weakened by the drugs they need to battle cancer or survive organ transplantation.

Beyond the bedside, he built a research program that advanced the understanding of several infectious diseases and ran clinical trials for new treatments for fragile patients. His was an accelerating impactful career, with the potential to help many people, but it soon would be interrupted.

The J-1 visa program required him to leave the United States and return to his native country for at least two years before he might apply to return to the U.S. on a permanent basis. Facing that deadline, he reached out to Attorney Margaret Holland-Sparages, head of the immigration group at Brooks & DeRensis.

Holland-Sparages began a process under the US Immigration & Nationality Act to waive the two-year home residency requirement for this doctor. The waiver process is available only for accomplished people who can demonstrate that their work is unique, high-caliber and makes a substantial contribution to national welfare or security.

We argued that based on his unparalleled and frequently cited medical research, life-saving work with patients, and mentoring of medical students and other physicians, it was in the best interest of the United States that he be allowed to stay, Holland-Sparages said.

While it is a very high standard to achieve, the waiver was approved, opening the door for the physician to apply for and receive a “green card” providing permanent U.S. residence status.

A person’s right to live where they choose and to work where they choose is a fundamental human right, Holland-Sparages said. Immigrants have made substantial contributions to the United States throughout our history and they continue to do so. That’s why I feel it’s a privilege for me to be able to do this work.