Oklahoma City Philharmonic violinist from Russia faces uncertain future in U.S. after immigration notice

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EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – A lifelong violinist from Russia who plays at the Oklahoma City Philharmonic has an uncertain future for his family after they received immigration notices.

Marat Gabdullin came to the U.S. 13 years ago with his wife, Maria Karpova. They now have a 7-year-old daughter.

Gabdullin and Karpova at their wedding in Guthrie with their “American parents”

“United States seems to be the perfect country for someone who has some passion for what he does and wants to pursue a career,” he said.

Gabdullin has been playing violin since he was five years old and considers music a universal language.

“I think violin allowed me to come here, because music is such a thing that has no borders,” he said.

Gabdullin received a master’s degree at OCU and doctorate at OU. He also started working at the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, where is an associate concertmaster.

Last week, he and his wife got an unexpected notice from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

He says he applied for permanent residency several years ago and was told his paperwork was lost at the immigration office. He applied again and was approved. But then, they said they never received one part even though he sent it.

On Friday, he got a letter saying his request has been denied and that he would lose the work authorization he already got.

His wife’s letter says she has to leave the country in 30 days.

“It’s just surreal,” Gabdullin said.

“We came here as a couple 13 years ago. We bought a house, started a family, we have beautiful 7- year-old daughter, and we just have 30 days to end our American dream,” Karpova said. “We’re not ready for that. Seriously, we’re not. We love this country, we love each other, and we want to stay here.”

Gabdullin believes it’s a mistake.

“It feels like they forget that behind all this paperwork there’s people’s lives, people’s dreams, and they’re just tossing it around like it’s nothing,” he said. “This is really, in my opinion, kind of inhumane way of dealing with important things for people who come here.”

Now, he’s just hoping something can be worked out before the deadline.

Karpova showed KFOR a note their daughter wrote in Russian after they found out about the news.

It’s translated as: “daddy, we’re not going to leave, I love you so much.”

KFOR checked with the immigration office. They say they can’t comment on specific cases. 

The Oklahoma City Philharmonic sent a statement that reads: “Mr. Gabdullin is a talented musician and an important and respected member of our OKC musical family. As he continues to work with his legal counsel for a positive resolution to his recent challenges, we stand ready to provide additional support as needed.”

Gabdullin with Yo-Yo Ma

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