A University of Idaho researcher is back on the job, a year after a tangled immigration case left her unemployed and facing deportation.
Katarzyna Dziewanowska, a Polish scientist who has studied possible ways to counter bioterrorism, was granted authorization to return to work in September. In addition, federal immigration officials reopened her application for permanent residency.
Dziewanowska said the moves occurred in a “not-very-expected” way – before her attorney had formally filed to have the case reopened.
She returned to her position in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry last week.
It was the latest surprising turn in her case, in which immigration officials denied her application for permanent residency last year after she spent 14 years as a researcher at the UI.
She was recruited by the university and worked on sensitive research with the potential to help thwart a bioterrorist attack – work that on occasion required her to have FBI security clearance.
Immigration officials denied her application, citing an eight-month period of unauthorized work in 2005. Dziewanowska and her supporters say she followed faulty advice from a UI representative regarding the status of her work permit, and they say the university has refused to step in and acknowledge its role in her problems.
UI administrators have declined to answer questions about her case. The UI said in a statement Wednesday that the university had held Dziewanowska’s position open for her, and that it “does not and cannot make immigration-related decisions for or on behalf of individuals with regard to their immigration status.”
Maria Andrade, Dziewanowska’s attorney, could not be reached Wednesday.
Dziewanowska and her attorneys described working against a frustrating series of bureaucratic dead-ends over the years – struggling to get information about her case or reasons for the decisions being made.
The rejection of her application for residency also had put her family’s life on hold. Her husband, Witold, is a UI researcher studying promising treatment of retroviruses, and the denial of the application limited his ability to receive grants. Her son was blocked from applying for a scholarship program to attend college.
“They eventually put me in a situation where you start to feel like a criminal, when you don’t have any intention to break the law,” she said this summer.