Elizabeth Olivas, 18, was all set to graduate as salutatorian of her Frankfort, Ind., high school class when she was forced to return to her native Mexico due to a technicality with her visa: She missed the application date by one day because of the leap year, the Indianapolis Star reports.
UPDATE: According to a recent post by the Indianapolis Star, Olivas has been issued a visa that will allow her to return to the US in time for her graduation.
Although Olivas has lived in Indiana since she was 4 years old, U.S. immigration law required her to fly to Mexico within six months of turning 18 in order to get a visa or green card -- a trip she made one day late. The consequence? A three-year ban on returning to the United States.
Now Olivas and her father, a naturalized U.S. citizen, are rushing to have the decision overturned in time for her to deliver a graduation speech to her class on Saturday.
"Time is running out," Olivas wrote in an email to her Indianapolis lawyer Sarah Moshe, which was obtained by the Star. "Thursday is mandatory rehearsal for graduation."
Olivas, who has been staying with her grandparents in Chihuahua, Mexico, has a waiver hearing on Thursday, WISH-TV reports.
In addition to being her class salutatorian with a 3.9 GPA, Olivas was also active in athletics and was the homecoming queen.
“When the whole thing went down, it was a really tough situation to deal with," Principal Steve Edwards told WRTV, expressing the reaction of both staff and the student body. "We've tried to move on, but we're getting really close to graduation and we wish Elizabeth was here. It’s a sad situation because she should be receiving her awards herself."
If Olivas is not able to return to the country in time, Frankfort Interim Schools Superintendent Don DeWeese told the Indianapolis Star in a separate report that officials are trying to find a way for her to give her speech via online video.