A Glastonbury ballroom dance teacher has made a life in Connecticut after moving from Russia three years ago to teach.
He has become a favorite among students, even lending his talents to dance in charity events, but now immigration services has denied his request to renew his Visa.
Alexander Konovalov moved to Connecticut in the summer of 2012 as a ballroom dance instructor for Fred Astaire studios.
“I love it here, I want to stay,” he said.
Since then, he has trained much of the community to dance socially, and even some competing and winning.
“My life is here with my students, teaching, and I like Fred Astaire because of all the opportunities they give teachers like me, from abroad,” Konovalov said.
When he tried to renew his work Visa, he hit a road block. He was denied not once, but twice by immigration services.
Since then, the studio’s owner has been exhausting all options to help him stay.
"His ability to look at his clients and design choreography and dance steps for them, specifically for their bodies and how they feel about themselves their confidence, that really makes him valuable," said studio owner Evan Wellemeyer.
He said Konovalov is an asset to the students, and is loved by them and co-workers.
Konovalov has turned to U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal for help, who said the problem is immigration officials have changed the rules.
“He was granted a Visa as an artist because he’s a ballroom dancer. Then they decided ballroom dancing is no longer an artist occupation, it is athletics,” Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal watched Konovalov dance in the Veteran’s Benefit last year. He’s now asking officials to take a second look at this appeal.
“We can mince words or split hairs, but the fact of the matter is, he’s simply trying to renew the same Visa, doing the same thing, and they’ve changed the rules of the game,” Blumenthal said, adding that it is unfair to Konovalov and his students.
If the third request is denied by officials, Konovalov will be deported soon.
He has since hired an attorney to help him fight the battle.
A GoFundMe was started to support Konovalov, which can be found here.
A petition has also been started, and can be found by clicking here.
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