Marooned Yemeni exchange student wants help making most of extended stay in MN


Basma Al-Moyed fulfilled a dream by experiencing American high school life in Minneapolis – but strife in her home country of Yemen has left her marooned in Minnesota.

The teenager has been staying with a family in the Twin Cities after being placed in a school here last year, with the intention she would return in June, according to her GoFundMe page.

But the outbreak of civil war has plunged her country into chaos, meaning she's unable to return home, with her exchange program advising that she travel to a different country.

Fortunately, her host family has no intention of letting her back to her war-torn country – or any other for that matter – with host mother Nicole Bates telling KARE 11 the teenager could stay as long as she needs to.

With a place to stay assured, Al-Moyed now wants to make use of her extended stay in the United States by continuing her education, hopefully by joining a community college this spring.

But with her exchange program funding having ended after she graduated high school, she needs a job to pay her way through college; and to get a job, she needs to adjust her immigration status since she cannot work while on a student visa.

She has launched the GoFundMe page so she can cover attorney fees, transportation and health insurance as she goes through the process of applying for "temporary protected status" – which would allow her to earn money so she can support herself as she keeps on studying.

So far the page has raised $1,545 out of a $2,500 target, and she said she's been "flabbergasted" by the support she's received – and has also heard from several attorneys willing to help.

Irrespective of her country's plight, Al-Moyed told KARE 11 she had a blast at high school, saying experiencing a high school prom was a particular highlight, describing it as "every American teenage movie."

She is among just over 30 Yemeni exchange students stranded in the country because of the civil war, with The Washington Post reporting State Department officials have been urging them to identify family or friends in other nations who could take them in when their U.S. visas expire.

Department officials told exchange participants in May that they "couldn't help anyone secure permission to stay here," the newspaper notes.

The Toronto Star reports the shutdown of the main airport in Yemen and a ban on wiring money out of the country is also taking its toll on Yemeni nationals currently studying in Canada, some of whom are also without work permits.

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