TUCSON, Ariz., March 3 -- Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz. (2nd CD), issued the following news release:
A Tucson man married a Thai woman last week because U.S. Rep. Ron Barber'sTucson office worked for more than 1 1/2 years to resolve visa issues.
"Without his help, I'm pretty sure she still would be back in Thailand," the man's mother said of work by Sean Goslar, a constituent services representative in Barber's Tucson office.
Barber's constituent services staff in Tucson and Sierra Vista handles a wide range of issues - including assisting veterans who are not getting benefits they deserve, homeowners facing foreclosure and people wanting to sign up for health insurance.
Since Barber took office in June 2012, his constituent services representatives have recovered $14,074,881.20 for Southern Arizonans.
"I work hard to ensure that the people I represent have a place to turn when they have problems dealing with the federal government," Barber said. "My office and I are here to serve the people of Southern Arizona, my door is open and we are here to help."
Andrew Larsen echoed that, saying that if Barber and his staff had not intervened, "I truly believe that paperwork would still be buried somewhere in the bureaucratic red tape of the U.S. embassy in Bangkok, Thailand."
In 2011, Larsen was working as a cook in Tucson when he met Sukrithda "Molly" Noynawas of Thailand, who was working at the spa on an exchange visitor visa. They fell in love and planned to get married but in January 2012, Noynawas' visa expired. So Larsen moved with her to Thailand.
They immediately applied to the U.S. Embassy for a fiancee visa to allow her to move to the United States with him to get married. But because of paperwork issues, it was denied.
In mid-2012, with the couple still in Thailand, Larsen's frustrated mother, Nadia, contacted Goslar in Barber's office asking for assistance. "He was helpful immediately," Nadia Larsen said. "He said, 'I will help you through the whole process until this gets resolved.' No one had ever told us that."
Barber's office contacted the U.S. embassy in Bangkok and asked them to reopen the case. After Barber's staff worked with the Larsens and the embassy for more than 1 1/2 years, the visa was granted and the couple moved back to the United States on Feb. 19.
Three days later, they were married. (A photo from the Larsens' wedding is attached.) They now are operating a wholesale gem business, selling gems from Thailand to American merchants.
This is the third wedding Sean Goslar has been invited to after successfully resolving visa issues.
The names of those who ask Barber's office for assistance as well as the details of their issues are confidential. But the Larsens gave permission for their name and story to be used to illustrate the type of assistance available to Southern Arizonans though Barber's office.
Since Barber took office in June 2012, his team of constituent services representatives in Tucson and Sierra Vista has opened 3,821 cases. About three-quarters of those cases have been resolved.
Requests for help come from veterans and active-duty military, seniors with issues related to Social Security and Medicare benefits and families seeking to refinance their mortgages.
Barber has also assigned a constituent services representative to handle requests for assistance from people trying to obtain health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
Some issues can be resolved relatively quickly. But others, depending on the complexity of the issue and the agencies involved, can take months or even years.
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