- Associated Press - Thursday, July 23, 2015

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - The Burlington School District has paid more than $20,000 to immigration lawyers in an attempt to secure a visa for its new superintendent.

Canadian Yaw Obeng still can’t legally work in the United States despite being hired to succeed interim Superintendent Howard Smith in February, The Burlington Free Press reported (https://bfpne.ws/1InFxyc ).

Obeng was expected to begin work July 1, but the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service denied his request for an O-1 visa, designed for skilled workers with a high level of proficiency in their fields.

“The reason given for not approving the visa application … was that the evidence provided was insufficient to establish Mr. Obeng’s qualification for the O-1 visa,” Smith said.

A different option for Obeng would be an H1B visa, which is a three-year work permit for highly skilled workers.

Smith said the district is continuing to pursue all avenues to bring Obeng to Vermont.

A $40,000 budget was established for the district’s superintendent search, $23,000 of which was spent on conducting the search itself. Lawyers’ fees have grown to $20,500.

The school board said they are confident they will be able to find the $3,500 to cover the overrun.

“Burlington has such unique needs that we have been committed to getting him here,” school board Vice Chair Stephanie Seguino said of Obeng. “He is precisely the person we need in the district now.”


Information from: The Burlington Free Press, https://www.burlingtonfreepress.com

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