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Advocacy group says Pakistani student in coma will get new visa

Muhammad Shahzaib Bajwa is shown at Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center, where he has been in a coma since a motor vehicle accident on Nov. 13. (Photo courtesy of Shahraiz Bajwa )

The comatose Pakistani student being treated at Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth will be able to stay beyond Feb. 28, a group representing his interests says.

"The Pakistani Consulate in Chicago told the family that a new visa will be issued by the end of next week," said Lori Saroya, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on Islamic-American Relations.

Muhammad Shahzaib Bajwa, 22, was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Superior when a vehicle he was in struck a deer on Interstate 35 near Cloquet on Nov. 13. His student visa is scheduled to expire on Feb. 28, and hospital officials told his family he would not be permitted to stay in the United States beyond then.

His brother, Shahraiz Bajwa, said the family is concerned he would not survive the flight to Pakistan and that if he did, the quality of care available in his homeland would be inferior to what he's getting in Duluth.

Shahraiz said he has been told it may take more than a year for his brother to recover.

A State Department spokeswoman said on Thursday that the U.S. government was working with the Bajwa family, but she didn't offer any assurance at that time that the visa could be extended.