CHICAGO (CBS) — Leaving the United States and Chicago is a death sentence for their son, says one Libyan couple on student visas for medical school.
Eman Attir and Othman Sraiti’s son is being treated at Lurie Children’s Hospital for a rare and serious kidney disease.
They say his treatments and medications aren’t available in Libya.
The family has called Chicago home for years, while the couple, physicians from Libya, finish medical school on full international scholarships.
“We are blessed because we are here,” Othman said. “We cannot leave.”
Their new home is where they’d like to stay.
But they say it’s not about what they’d like most. It’s not that the United States is the best place to raise their young family. They call staying a necessity.
“It is fatal for him,” Eman said.
“If he does not get the medication and the healthcare he needs, he will die,” Othman said.
Muhammad, 4, was born in the United States and was diagnosed in 2017 with a rare genetic disease that impacts his kidneys.
His parents say his medication and the treatment he’s been receiving at Lurie Children’s Hospital is not available in Libya.
Their F-1 Visas expire in May.
“If we leave the country? That means my son is dying,” Othman said.
Their options are the same options anyone has when it comes to a green card. They could get a family sponsor, but they say they have no family here. Or they could get an employer sponsor; which would be a residency, fellowship, or any position in the medical field in their case.
They say they have been working to secure those positions.
“I need program to sponsor my visa,” Eman said.
And she needs it for a very long time.
“I would get the chance to get the H-1B visa,” she said.
Now they are working with CAIR Chicago, speaking out in hopes of finding what they haven’t been able to on their own — an employment sponsor.
For their son and their family, they say the alternative just isn’t an option.
“It would be a godsend if either of them was able to find employment, because they would be able to stay, and their son would receive adequate treatment,” said Saadia Pervaiz with CAIR Chicago.
If the family doesn’t have an employer sponsor by May, or a humanitarian exemption, which is their only other possible route, they will have to return to Libya.