JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — More than 10 years ago, one man started a Jackson non-profit that gave students who were suspended or expelled a second chance at achieving their full potential.

“It truly is a remarkable thing and something that our community by and large didn’t think was possible,” said Rise Above founder Neil Fernandes.

Unfortunately, Fernandes’ was denied permanent U.S. residency by immigration, which puts Fernandes’ family and his non-profit in jeopardy.

Neil Fernandes and his family came to the U.S. from Canada.

Fernandes called the past few days an “emotional roller coaster.”

“Just the challenge of trying to pack 48 years of your existence and moments and to try and prepare to bring it to another country, to try and re-configure your whole life and restart, ” said Fernandes.

Fernades said that the process for citizenship at first seemed normal.

“Just a regular immigration process up and to the point where we had to switch some lawyers around,” said Fernandes. “Just because people were changing jobs and in that there was some communication lost and that resulted in some immigration errors being made.”

The piece of communication that was lost in the process was that Fernandes was not supposed to work after his visa expired.

He was under the impression that his pending application for permanent residence allowed him to continue to work. According to Fernandes, his previous immigration lawyer did not explain that to him.

“It wasn’t explained to us some of the work parameters while we waited for our green card,” said Fernandes. 

Now, the Jackson community is rallying around Fernandes, his wife and their two children.

More than $15,000 has already been raised through a GoFundMe.

Friends like Steve Castle say he is both confused and frustrated.

“Someone that’s investing in this community in this way and has been here this long, has followed all the right steps to then just have to basically be kicked out of the country when they are such an incredible impact on the community is just discouraging and disheartening,” said Castle.

Fernandes says the support means everything and for now his family is calling for a lifeline from state leaders.

“I’m hoping that people will call Tim Walberg, Debbie Stabenow, Gary Peters, and say ‘hey this is not ok. I want you to fix this for this family, for this community and indeed for the organization Rise Above.'”

Fernandes, his wife and their two children came to the U.S. from Canada.

Fernandes said that while the future is uncertain, he’s thankful to have been adopted into the community for the past 10 years.

“I really feel like Jackson County and City adopted the Fernandes family and our organization Rise Above with open arms,” said Neil.

On Monday morning, the Fernandes family officially left to head back to Canada.