Laiza Cimeno, the Islander who feared she was trapped in Brazil over a visa denial, appears to be getting a visa now.
“We got word that Laiza’s visa has been approved, unbelievable!!!!,” her husband James posted on Facebook Friday. “It is in the shipping process. We are beyond excited but will be uneasy until we are back on American soil. We are still traumatized. Feels too good to be true. We should be coming home later [than] our scheduled plans but I’ll happily take the deal. Again, we can’t thank the love and support enough that we have received. We came as a family and we are going home together. No man left behind. God bless.”
“They’re all coming home as a family,” family friend Ashley Waters told The Times. “I’m just so appreciative. We have an amazing community. I can’t wait to tell my daughter her best friend’s mom is coming home.”
Laiza came to the U.S. in 2004 from Brazil. She entered the U.S. without a visa via a Mexican guide. She initially spent time in Braintree before settling on the Island. She and James have two children, 7-year-old Leah, and their 2-year-old, Summer, who are with her in Brazil.
Her visa was initially denied due to erroneous information, according to James. The government believed his wife was arrested at the border in 2004, and a deportation letter was issued for her as a result.
Laiza’s plight had captured the attention of the Island, as well as of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Ed Markey, and U.S. Rep. William Keating.
Reached on Wednesday, Waters said there’s “no official date yet, but hopefully soon.” Waters described the Cimenos as “very, very happy. They’re so thankful for everybody’s help.”
Also on Wednesday, Maria Acofta, Laiza’s friend and coworker at Bite on the Go in Vineyard Haven, said Laiza messaged that consulate officials told her the visa snafu was a mistake and her passport should be good to go in two weeks. Acofta said she hopes to hold a party for her when she returns.