Two violinists are expelled by the US

Two orchestral players from Bulgaria who have lived in the US for 14 years are to be deported this week.

Yuliyan Stoyanov, 40, and his wife Smiliana Lozanova, 36, have played since 2006 in the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, at Charleston.

Yuliyan’s visa expired in 2013 once he earned his PhD from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where he became a faculty member. He also set up a strings academy with his wife.

But they failed to qualify for immigrant status as ‘foreign nationals of extraordinary ability’ and on Wednesday they will be flown home to Sofia, via Paris, together with their two US-born children.

Full report here.

Yuliyan Stoyanov

UPDATE: Yuliyan’s dignified response to deportation.

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  • They should have sneaked over the border. You do everything by the law you get deported; you break the law , and the president wants you.

    • Yes, by all means ignore the fact that under President Obama, deportations of undocumented aliens have risen to the point at which more people are going to Mexico from the US than are coming to the US from Mexico.

  • Absolutely typical. What a stupid country – the people that run it not the ordinary citizens.

    They is one reason why I would never want to go to the US.

    They (the people in charge) wouldn’t know talent if it bit them on the bum.

  • I’m surprised that Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music didn’t sponsor them. The system is very screwed up, but there are many ways to get over the fence, especially with American born kids.

  • I find this surprising. I’ve written a number of letters to USCIS for musicians in similar situations applying for green cards, and know of others, and none have been denied to date.

    • This story highlights, yet again, how the United States authorities remain so distant and oblivious to what a human being can contribute to their ever deteriorating society.
      I just read today that the U.S. Will take in refugees from Syria, yet people, with U.S. born children, who are highly educated, teachers themselves, must all be deported.
      In all honesty, although the transition may be hard at first, I think that this is a blessing in disguise for the entire family. The U.S. has become a terrifying, ignorant, undemocratic police state and even if they don’t want to stay in Bulgaria, as EU citizens, they can relocate to another EU member country and start a new life there. It may not be perfect, but having children, they should do everything possible to get them out of the U.S. and it’s abysmal education system, it’s violence, it’s urban neglect and decay and a general shift towards fascism and totalitarianism. Sure, other places, particularly in the EU are bad, but none have reached the decadence and mindless stupidity of the U.S. I wish the family well in their new adventure.

      • Amazing that so many people around the world try to come against all hazards to this terrifying, ignorant, undemocratic, fascist, totalitarian police state. Maybe they should just stay put.

        Whatever problems the US may have – and my idea of what those are may differ greatly from yours – they can be solved, unlike those of Europe, which is beyond hope.

        • What American belligerence!

          Sir, you believe that the problems in the U.S. “can be solved”? Highly unlikely, as the entire system is built upon injustice. Racial inequality in the U.S. only gets worse, not better, as the country was founded upon that injustice, so it is in the roots and in the DNA. It won’t get better! Violence: More and more guns have been added to the already astounding number already in private hands. No one will be able to wave a magic wand and make all of those arms disappear. So, violence there won’t get better, but worse, as we see with each new mass shooting “event”. Education: In every international statistic, the U.S. falls further down the education league, with appalling results in math, reading and writing. Not to mention that the majority, in a recent poll (52%) couldn’t even locate their own country on a world map.
          Please sir, the world has many very difficult problems nowadays and Europe is in a mess, but not one of the European countries comes close to the neglect and breakdown on so many levels as we see in the once decent U.S. Wake up and stop thinking that the rest of the world is unaware of what life there has become!

        • “Whatever problems the US may have…”
          – I’d say whatever problems the US has, as I think it’s fair to say that every country has its problems.

          “…and my idea of what those are may differ greatly from yours…”
          – I have come to find it rather difficult to fix or solve thing, if one cannot agree on what is broken or wrong in the first place.

          “…they can be solved, unlike those of Europe, which is beyond hope.”
          – You are certainly entitled to your views but I’d be a bit less optimistic, considering we, citizens of our respective countries, usually rely on the same types to solve those problems for us (our respective politicians/bureaucrats & Co. …and there always seem to be more inadequate ones than capable ones).

  • Can’t they let them stay and let Stefan Arzberger of the Leipzig String Quartet go? He wants out and deserves the leave to go.
    Instead they ignominiously ship off a family and keep a victim of both a coward drugging attack and a hopelessly botched investigation stranded in a terible situation and under the cloud of a vile suspect (yes I do pity the lady who got attacked by him; it must have been a nasty shock. But she and Stefan Arxberg are BOTH victims, the baddy is elsewhere).

  • The verbiage “foreign nationals of extraordinary ability” is what is found in the O1 Visa application, which is not for permanent status. I don’t know that the same language is used for Green Cards, which have nothing to do with being a performer. I think Aaron is right.

  • Typical of the Obama administration. You have to be poor, uneducated, untalented, criminal, gay sick, or wealthy to be allowed in. Or break across the border. But if you have talent, are educated or from Europe – forget it. The US immigration system IS broken and here’s more proof. Can we survive any more of this criminal, incompetent “leadership”?

        • You obviously feel compelled to spread yours all around. Now repeat after me: rapists over racists, rapists over racists.

          • “They forgot to say the magic words for the Obama administration: “allahu backbar””
            You sir, are an unmitigated ass of voluminous proportions. Crawl back into the woodwork where you belong.

    • Obama has only helped the imigration system in US…Read more & educate yourself as next president Trump or Hilary will show you what a broken system is!!!!
      Please note: If this family is being deported is not only because they did not qualify for Extraordinary Abilities green card but because they have broken the law in some way & the imigration discovered that!
      It is the hardest green card in this category & many people got burned!
      If they were really extraordinary in their
      Portfolio, they woukd have made it!
      Having children ( born Americans) has nothing to do with obtaining permanent residence. It is just a bad luck or a bad lawyer !!!!

  • As someone who actually has experience handling these types of visa cases: There are several types of visas that Mr. Stoyanov would seem to be eligible for:

    H1B – Nonimmigrant visas for generally skilled workers. Usually sought for tech workers, but also for many others. Presumably the West Virginia Symphony could have have petitioned him for that. They are quota-limited, which is a problem for many companies. Employers have to show 1) they are paying prevailing wage and 2) They couldn’t hire a similarly-qualified American. If Mr. Stoyanov had to win an audition to get into the West Virginia Symphony, that would seem to meet the latter requirement. But if he’s stringing together a series of freelance gigs, not clear who would petition him.

    E3 – Immigrant visa for skilled workers. Sort of like the H1B but it comes with an immediate green card. No need to prove you’re extraordinary, just qualified and that they couldn’t find an American to fill the job. To my recollection, there’s no quota limit for this one.

    E-1 – Immigrant visa for aliens of extraordinary ability. It’s a self-petition (not by an employer), and this sounds like what he went for, with all the documentation requirements to show how one is extraordinary.

    The real problem in all cases is that these petitions are reviewed by mid-ranking Department of Homeland Security adjudicators, who probably have a lot of experience reviewing petitions, but not necessarily deep expertise in any particular subject area. As the article describes, there is a checklist of how you meet the test of being “extraordinary,” a good lawyer can find ways to spin even modest accomplishments in a way to check the boxes. At the same time, the average adjudicator really doesn’t have the competence to make a distinction between good and great, and resulting decisions can be, as it seems to be in this case, fairly arbitrary.

    I often found the opposite problem: people who in no way met the “extraordinary” test, but the DHS adjudicator had approved the petition, and as a consular officer I had no choice but to approve it; I was not allowed to “readjudicate” the petition.

    This is a system that goes back a long way – it is no way a reflection of the priorities of the Obama Administration (Congress would have more sway here, in any case).

    Honestly, I don’t know why Mr. Stoyanov’s petition failed, other than that the system can be arbitrary.

    • The only thing that can be done at this point is petition the local congressman/congresswoman to intercede on their behalf, and one would have to imagine that CCM is looking into this course of action. This usually gets things moving quickly.

  • He and his wife have my sympathies. I went through getting a green card in the same category (but not as a musician), and my sponsoring company used a firm of immigration lawyers who assigned me an individual who worked only on this category of visa. It takes that level of legal expertise to ensure you get through. It was a nightmare and I can understand the 700 pages. I was advised to write everything for a 12 year old. They would have had zip understanding of my field. I eventually got the Green Card, stayed a couple of decades and decided to return to my home country. At least his kids aren’t teens with a whole life experience in the US. As pre-schoolers they will quickly and easily adjust. But very tragic all round.

  • Would they treat a talented young US citizen hoping for work in London any better? No.

    Would he and his wife receive a free education at the RCM, RAM, Guildhall? No.

    I get it that some of you hate the US. Fine. We’ll be ok.

  • People who occasionally complain about the low level of some of the posts in Norman’s blog only need to look at the even lower level of some, often many, of the commenters with their amazingly stupid responses. Utter tripe!

  • The full article makes it apparent that the decision was not an ignorant bureaucratic one but that his qualifications and achievements were carefully examined.

    While they may be talented, I’m doubtful that his adjunct faculty position and their symphony positions could not also be filled by available, talented American musicians, which would be the basis for granting them a work visa.

    Nor are they refugees in danger of death if they are not admitted which would be the basis for a different kind of visa.

      • While I don’t know US immigration regulations, I would assume that the deportation itself applies to the Mr. Stoyanov and his wife and not to the children themselves, who are probably not old enough to remain in the US on their own. As I understand it, most countries don’t automatically grant parents citizenship based on their children having received said citizenship under a jus soli nationality law.

        • You are correct. The kids could stay (and they can come back).

          If Mr. Stoyanov is as extraordinary a musician as claimed, then his best recourse is to try to win an audition in a major U.S. orchestra. In such case the orchestra shouldn’t have a problem getting him the right visa. The West Virginia Symphony, which I assume is a part-time, per-service gig, probably doesn’t cut it.

      • If nothing else, this episode should disprove the “anchor baby” hysteria currently promoted by conservative in the US.

        Having a child who is a US citizen, does not grant a parent automatic citizenship.

  • well, judging by his playing in this video, we must say, the standard of the US immigration bureau’s officials is very high, perhaps only violinist of Heifetz’s calibre can meet their qualification, if so, the world of classical music should be thrilled for this reason, at least we can hope for a world with more really talented violinists instead of some less than perfect ones. lol.

    • His playing is indeed very good. But that’s not the only criterion one needs to meet to get a green card. If it were, virtually every foreign student at a major music school could qualify automatically for a green card, and they don’t.

      Without knowing precisely which visa he was applying for, it’s hard to know for certain why he was denied. Unfortunately, his qualities and activities failed to check all the boxes in a bureaucratic process. Though even so, based on other cases I’ve seen, I’m very surprised he didn’t get approved.

      But this has nothing to do with Obama policy on illegal migration, Syrian refugees, and other whipping-boys favored by some of the anti-US/anti-Obama commenters on this forum.

  • The article also clearly states that Mr. Stoyanov and his wife opened a private school, teaching 20+ students, while also living a busy performing life. Only a blind bureaucrat would fail to see how much this couple contributes to their community. Sadly, US immigration system is broken beyond repair: it has to be deleted, and then re-written having in mind the fact that we live in the 21st century. You don’t deport individuals who have entered the country LEGALLY, have studied, worked, and paid taxes for 14+ years. It just doesn’t make sense. Makes me so sick.

  • The Congresspeople in their state could perhaps have helped, especially in light of the fact that they had American-born children and operated a school, At the very least, they should have been directed to a good immigration attorney…

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