After 3 years of denials, Thai-American family granted visa to visit ailing San Jose family member

Michael Finney Image
Monday, December 4, 2023
Thai-American family granted visa to visit ailing family after 3 years
Loren is a US citizen and daughter Lily has dual citizenship. But wife Ariya, a Thai citizen, was denied a visa by the US embassy.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- "Hey, how are you guys doing today?" Michael Finney of 7 On Your Side asked the Infeld family.

"Pretty good, pretty good, wonderful," they responded.

"It looks like everyone got here, huh?" Finney asked.

"They got here OK, they were on the flight," said Gale Infeld.

This is a family reunion more than three years in the making.

"We're so happy we're here now, and you guys helped us do that. We're so thankful," said Loren Infeld. "But we lost years of time that as a family, we could have been together."

"At first, we thought it was the Thai government that was holding everything up. They would have more reason to hold things up," Lou Infeld said. "Then we found out it was the US. government that's holding us up. And now that really upset us."

Loren lives in Thailand with his wife, Ariya, and their daughter, Lily.

It was important for everyone in the Infeld family to be all together in San Jose.

"A few years ago my dad was diagnosed with ALS, a degenerative disease in which you slowly lose function of your body," Loren explained of his father Lou.

"The problem was every time they applied for a visa they were denied a visa," added Loren's mother, Gale.

And they applied a lot. Loren is a US citizen and Lily has dual citizenship. But Ariya, a Thai citizen, was denied a visa by the US embassy.

Gale was working the system every way she could. She reached out to 7 On Your Side, and we went to work and suggested she also contact Congressman Jimmy Panetta's (D-CA 19th District) office. She did - and boy, were the folks there wired in.

"There's this thing called a humanitarian parole," Gale said, "which means, if you're coming to see someone who is sick or take care of them in the US, they give you time to go there."

"They tried the visas to come here as a spouse - that didn't work. We found this workaround, this I-131 parole, which basically allows them to come in for humanitarian purposes. Within four months we were able to get her visa to come in. This is a process that normally takes 7 to 16 months," Congressman Jimmy Panetta said.

And that is how everyone ended up here, in San Jose, California.

"We really appreciate everything you guys did," the Infeld family told 7 On Your Side.

The congressman singled out staffer Bertha Munoz by name, saying she is his office's "immigration guru." So if you need help, you know who to go to.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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