WASHINGTON - After seven years in the United States, a Georgetown Day School teacher has just learned she must leave the country as soon as possible after her two visa applications were denied.
A letter to parents from Associate Head of School Kevin Barr was sent Tuesday reading in part, "Yesterday we learned that Min Wang, one of our Chinese teachers, had her application for her EB-1A visa (Green Card) denied. Additionally, her application for an O-1A visa was denied. Min's application was supported vigorously by us, as well as by the former governor of North Dakota, who vouched strongly for her academic credentials, as she was responsible for helping establish the Chinese program at the University of North Dakota."
Wang tells FOX 5 that after getting her doctoral degree, she earned a post-doctorate from Harvard University. She says she is a published author and has taught at Harvard, Swarthmore College and the University of North Dakota, where she started the first online Chinese language program in the state.
"I'm very passionate about language teaching," Wang said.
She says the H-1B visa that has allowed her work in the U.S. has expired, so she applied for two different options to stay. One of them is known as the "Einstein visa," which is what allowed then-model Melania Trump to gain legal residency in 2001. The EB-1 program is for those with "extraordinary abilities."
Wang says she and her immigration attorney were confident she met the criteria. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services disagreed. She now has a few weeks to return to China.
"I feel the worst about my son because he's an eighth grader," Wang said tearing up.
She told her students Tuesday about what was happening.
"I almost wanted to cry myself to be honest with you," said junior Viraj Prakash.
Prakash and his friend, junior Wes Cooper, were both in the class.
"It was really heartbreaking because you can see how devastated she was," said Cooper.
They started a petition on change.org titled "Visa For Our Chinese Teacher, Min Wang." As of Tuesday night, the petition already had several hundred signatures.
"Dr. Wang has been one of the most phenomenal teachers I have had by far," Prakash said.
The students know it might not help, but they wanted to do something to show support for their teacher.
"It means the whole world to me," Wang said. "Which means what I have been doing is very meaningful."
Wang says she has others fighting on her behalf as well, from educators in D.C. to congressional leaders in North Dakota.
"It gives me some hope because I feel terrible," she said. "This is just a little silver lining here."
She wonders if the current administration's stance on immigration is playing a role. President Donald Trump has cracked down on illegal immigration, but also worked to limit legal immigration in the U.S.
In an emailed statement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman Jim McKinney said, "Due to privacy laws, we are unable to comment on individual cases. USCIS is committed to adjudicating all petitions, applications and requests fairly, efficiently, and effectively on a case-by-case basis to determine if they meet all standards required under the law."