'Nearly Comatose' Pakistani Student Gets Visa Extension

PHOTO: Muhammad Shahzaib Bajwa
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The State Department has extended the student visa of a nearly-comatose Pakistani student who was studying in Wisconsin, according to the student's lawyer.

Muhammad Shahzaib Bajwa's original student visa was scheduled to expire on Feb. 28 and it was unclear if he would be sent back to Pakistan in spite of suffering severe injuries from a car accident last year, which left him bedridden and incapacitated.

On Friday his lawyer Saiko McIvor told ABC News that the State Department has agreed to extend his student visa for an additional 28 days until March 28.

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Shahzaib Bajwa will likely be moved from the hospital where he is currently being treated to a long-term care facility in Duluth, Minn.

Shahzaib Bajwa, 20, was studying at the University of Wisconsin-Superior when he was in a car accident in November. The car carrying Shahzaib Bajwa hit a deer and the 20-year-old suffered multiple fractures in his face after the animal went through the windshield. At the hospital he choked on his own blood and temporarily went into cardiac arrest.

Although he was revived, he suffered brain swelling and other injuries that left him in a "minimally conscious" state, according to his older brother Muhammad Shahraiz Bajwa.

"He opens his eyes ... sometimes he smiles, sometimes he cries, he moves his legs. His body parts are all moving," Shahraiz Bajwa said. "The trauma doctors say that he's young and he's intelligent, he needs time. It takes a lot of time for the brain to recover."

Shahraiz Bajwa said it may take years to know how much of his brother's injuries will be permanent.

Shahzaib Bajwa was originally supposed to be in the U.S. for one semester and his visa was set to expire in November, according to Shahzaib Bajwa's immigration attorney and his brother.

His lawyer, Saiko McIvor, said the student visa is supposed to be for students who are enrolled at a school, but it was extended for Shahzaib Bajwa by the State Department after the car accident.

It is not clear whether the visa will continue to be extended on a case by case basis as Shahzaib Bajwa recovers or if he will be considered for "humanitarian parole," which would allow him to stay for a "temporary period of time due to a compelling emergency."

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"He's definitely here in the country legally with the proper legal status," McIvor said.

Shahzaib Bajwa is being treated at the Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth. Originally, hospital officials said they were making arrangements to have Shahzaib Bajwa sent to Pakistan after his visa expired on Feb. 28, however they later changed their statement.

"We are working collaboratively with his family and caregivers, along with the U.S. and Pakistani governments, to reach the best outcome for him and his family," the hospital said in an earlier statement.

Muhammad Shahraiz Bajwa said the hospital had asked their mother to sign a consent form to allow them to discharge Shahzaib Bajwa and arrange transport back to Pakistan, but he had told her to wait to sign it.

Shahraiz Bajwa said he and his mother want to keep the 20-year-old student in the U.S. because they believe his health could deteriorate greatly if he's sent on a 24-to-30-hour flight to Pakistan and receive substandard care in that country.

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