At the age of 14 Natalia Laschenova socked the world
by winning a Gold Medal in the Seoul Korea Olympics in 1984
representing the USSR. After her arrival in the United States in
1990, Natalia accomplished
a successful transition from world class athlete to world class coach.
Athletes that she has trained have competed at the highest levels of
gymnastics within the United States. With the support of the gym in
Marysville, Ohio that she now coaches at, Natalia petitioned for her
Employment Based Green Card under the first preference category,
commonly known as EB-1. The EB-1 employment classification is intended
to provide immediate green card to persons of internationally recognized
However, Natalia's petition was initially denied by the USCIS. The
USCIS did not feel that Natalia had carried over the international
recognition that she had gained as an athlete to her coaching career. Having
run out of time left on her work visa, Natalia was faced with the very
real possibility of moving her entire family back to Latvia, a country
that neither she nor her children had called home for over ten years.
The attorney's at Shihab & Associates decided to take Natalia's case pro Bono
basis and filed a lawsuit with the US District Court for the Southern
District of Ohio challenging the USCIS denial of Natalia's EB-1
petition. Recently, the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO)
in Washington D.C. re-opened Natalia's case and the litigation was
stayed pending a final decision by the AAO. Shihab
& Associates filed another brief with the AAO arguing that
Natalia Laschenova has indeed converted her international success as an Olympic gymnast into a career as a coach of gymnasts at the national and international levels of competition. Specifically, Natalia
has coached Olympic athletes training for the Belarus Olympic team as
well as gymnasts who have competed in the Junior Olympics and Division 1
college programs around the United States. Finally, it was argued that
the USCIS did not even use the correct legal standard for judging
Natalia's petition as decided by recent case precedent decided by the
Court of Appeals.
Natalia and the lawyers of Shihab & Associates are hopeful that the
ongoing litigation will cause the Administrative Appeals Office to
approve Natalia's case.
Natalia and her family are hopeful that their 10 year dream to receive
permanent residence will finally be realized soon. Attorney Gus Shihab,
the founder of Shihab & Associates stated that he is giving the AAO
one last chance to avert litigation. Should the AAO deny the case
again, he will proceed to litigate this case vigorously on behalf the
Olympic Gold Medalist.