Amid the political unrest that has shaken Ukraine over the last few months, a Whitestone mother has struggled to get her 4-year-old son out of the troubled country.
Natalia Kuzmina came to the United States six months ago with her Belarussian-born husband, Julian Zagorodnev, an American citizen and the stepfather, so he could work and send money back to her son, Mykhailo.
“Being separated from my son has been incredibly difficult,” she said.
The couple left Mykhailo with his grandfather in the Vinnytsia region of Ukraine and were planning to bring him to the United States eventually. Their efforts to get him out of Ukraine became more urgent as violence flared and weeks of protests resulted in the toppling of the country’s pro-Russian government.
Kuzmina has not seen her son in two months and cannot travel to Ukraine because of complications with her own work visa.
U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville) heard about the couple’s situation and pushed Citizenship and Immigration Services to expedite the boy’s green card application.
“Parents should never have to fear for the safety of their children, but that is exactly what Julian Zagorodnev and Natalia Kuzmina are doing every second of every day as they wait to be reunited with their 4-year-old son who is stuck in Ukraine,” Israel said.
It usually takes six to 10 months to process a green card application for a child, but a few days after Israel reached out, Mykhailo’s application was approved. The toddler, however, now must wait for his travel documents to be processed by the National Visa Center and the U.S. embassy in Kiev, which could take an additional three months.
The Vinnytsia region, where the boy lives, is 150 miles from Ukraine’s capital of Kiev.
“I am thankful to Rep. Israel for working to get Mykhailo’s green card expedited and for putting pressure on them to quickly process his travel documents, and I hope to be reunited with my son in New York as soon as possible,” Kuzmina said.
Since Ukraine’s pro-Russian government was ousted, Russian forces have taken control of Crimea, a peninsula with a large percentage of Russian speakers. More than 97 percent of Crimean voters recently backed a union between the area and Russia in a referendum, according to Crimea’s election committee.
The referendum was widely decried by the international community as illegitimate and in violation of the Ukrainian constitution.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2014 Community News Group
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