BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A well-respected Johns Hopkins University librarian/professor suddenly moved away to the United Kingdom, and she believes new immigration restrictions caused this outcome.
Many classify Dr. Tamsyn Mahoney-Steel as a highly skilled worker because of her experience and education.
She has a Ph.D, but in September, the British citizen said she had to pack up and leave because of new immigration rules.
Dr. Mahoney-Steel held dual roles at Johns Hopkins University as a librarian and professor.
But when the British citizen tried to renew her working visa this year, she said the university did not submit the documents out of concern immigration officials would deny them.
Her husband was just recovering from an illness, and as the sole bread-winner, she had to pack up and leave.
“It came as a big shock. It was very little notice, like 10 days notice before my visa was up,” Dr. Mahoney-Steel said.
Mahoney-Steel was one of thousands of workers who live and work in the U.S. under an H1-B visa. It allows companies to hire highly skilled immigrants.
“The climate is completely different under the current administration,” said immigration attorney Sheela Murthy.
But Murthy says as the Trump administration begins to scrutinize those visas, it’s becoming harder for workers to renew them.
“Many employers are now finding that their employees’ H1 petitions which they thought were routine are getting denials. People who have lived in America for 10 or 15 years are packing their bags, selling their homes, their cars, their assets, and going back, whether it’s to India or to China or to England or to Mexico. It’s not one country,” Murthy added.
A current professor says Mahoney-Steel’s absence will be a loss.
“In our eyes, her work ethic was remarkable, and that’s what we are going to miss,” JHU professor Kristin Cook-Gailloud said.
In a message, Johns Hopkins’ Dean of Libraries said that privacy restrictions prevented him from commenting on any employee, but,”both the Sheridan libraries and the JHU Office of International Services worked to assist Dr. Mahoney-Steel.”
Mahoney-Steel says she wishes Johns Hopkins had submitted her visa application for renewal.
“I knew I was a good employee. I was experiencing success in my career. I feel like I was a very good advocate for JHU, so I was surprised they didn’t do more,” she said.
Another immigration attorney said Mahoney-Steel could have started this process on her own.
She says her husband will join her in the UK next month.