U.S. Grants Entry to SF State Professor After Nearly 90 Days
SF State professor allowed back in to U.S.
September 13, 2006 1:03 PM
The U.S. State Department told an SF State Arabic assistant language professor today that he could come home after he waited nearly 90 days in limbo for a security clearance.
“It’s like one of those moments when you wake up in the morning and you just don’t believe it,” said Mohammad Ramadan Salama, 38, who was stranded in Canada since June 20 when his visa was abruptly canceled.
Salama, an Egyptian citizen, said no one at the U.S. consulate in Toronto or with the U.S. State Department explained why his visa took so long.
He said he thinks it is possible that his security clearance finally matured, or the media coverage played a part. He mentioned that officials at the State department seemed to speak more respectfully to him once his story was published.
“It is a completely shattering atrocity, as if I was in a shell for 90 days, like I was in jail. I was separated from my children, my wife and from my career,” Salama said in a telephone interview hours after he got word of his visa.
He said he has fielded a firestorm of media inquiries since his story broke on Sept. 4 in the Golden Gate [X]press. His story has since been covered by the Oakland Tribune, the Toronto Star, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Salama said he plans to travel to the U.S. consulate in Toronto from London, Canada on Thursday to pick up his O-1 Visa. He said he would then visit his children in Wisconsin for one day before returning to his classes at SF State.
An O-1 visa is for nonimmigrant citizens of foreign countries who demonstrate extraordinary abilities or achievements in the arts, sciences, athletics, motion picture industry, education or business. O-1 applications require a rigorous set of documentation on the applicant's past.
Salama, whose wife and two children are U.S. citizens, has a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Wisconsin and was to begin his second year teaching Arabic language and literature at SF State.
“You’d think that when someone who has responsibilities to a university and benefits our national security by teaching Arabic language and culture, it wouldn’t take so long,” Paul Sherwin, dean of the humanities department, said after the news of Salama’s clearance.
Sherwin said he thinks Salama’s wait is an obvious result of the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
SF State hired Salama in fall 2005 in response to a growing demand for Arabic language classes since 9/11.
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