U-H Women's Basketball Assistant Coach Loses Working Visa Appeal
Darron Larsen and his wife first arrived in the United States in August 2015, eager to live out the "American Dream." He began his U.S. coaching career in Los Angeles on an H1B visa He was First Assistant coach for the women's basketball team at Pepperdine University.
Darron Larsen and his wife first arrived in the United States in August 2015, eager to live out the "American Dream."
He began his U.S. coaching career in Los Angeles on an H1B visa He was First Assistant coach for the women's basketball team at Pepperdine University.
After two years, his contract was terminated and in July 2017, he accepted an offer with the UH women's basketball team as Assistant Coach -- ready to start a new chapter in his life.
"You've joined an amazing family in UH. The ohana and the aloha spirit that you get in Hawaii," Larson says.
But by the end of November, life came to a screeching halt.
He was unsuccessful at switching over the sponsorship to UH for his work visa.
The university filed for a new visa and two months later -- without a job or pay-- his lawyer informed him that was also denied.
"Just heartbreak and disappointment that i have a job. I have a place to stay. I'm in the country. I have a team that i love and they love me and i have a staff that loves me. And i have head coach that believes in me and supports me. But i have to go home because of a piece of paper that says, 'No you can't be here anymore.'"
"You can't imagine what it did to these kids back in november. So we were going through an appeals process praying for the best," says Head Coach Laura Beeman.
The decision states that Immigration Services did not believe a coaching position is a "specialty occupation" requiring a degree in a particular field.
According to legal counsel, even visa extensions under a new employer are treated as brand new cases. Fair or not, no deference is given to prior approvals.
A warm welcome, yet a speedy exit for a beloved member of the Rainbow Wahine family.
"Well I have no regrets about coming here. This is a dream of mine. To be in america. To coach basketball professionally. At a high level. And the home of basketball for a fantastic place, university, community. So, leaving is tough. But we have to move on."
And it doesn't end with Larsen. Ryan Dubbeldam, the team's video coordinator, is also a New Zealand citizen on a working visa -- could experience the very same thing.