US Visa Issues

Colin Powell on US visas (hat tip: Perverse Access Memory):

It is in our interest to have foreigners come to our institutions, come to our medical facilities, come to our entertainment facilities, visit the United States as tourists to get a better understanding of who we are, what we are as a nation and people, how we can reach out to other nations. And so, we are doing everything we can to make it easier to get a visa for those who should be coming to our country and mean us no harm. We want to be seen as an open country, with open doors welcoming people as we have in the past.

That’s just PR BS. I am very pissed off since my parents, who were planning to visit us for a month in December, have been refused a visit visa. I can’t really think of any reason for them to not get a visa. My Dad has been to the US once before on our Masters degree commencement. My parents are well-educated and are spending their retired life well-settled in Islamabad. If we, the elite1 of the US, can’t get our parents to come visit us, who can?

The reason my parents were given was a stock one: that the consular officer can’t be sure that they would return after their trip. Why wouldn’t they? They have a house in Islamabad. My two siblings live in Pakistan as well. My Dad has a pension and retiree medical benefits there. They have friends and relatives as well as property.

Yes, I know that it is the right of the US to admit or refuse any visitor. But it is also my right to be pissed off and rant when my parents can’t visit me.

It had taken us some effort to convince them to visit and they probably agreed because they wanted to see their only grandchild. But now that would have to wait.

In related news, I did not know that all visa applicants have to submit fingerprints to the US embassy. According to the US Consul General in Jeddah,

“Like the photograph we print on your visa, these scanned fingerprints will help identify you as you enter the United States and will prevent your visa from being misused if it is lost or stolen. Your scanned fingerprints will be kept in a secure database. They will not appear on your visa, or be shared with any other government agencies.”

If that’s the case, why don’t they fingerprint only those whose visa application is approved? What happens to the fingerprints of those who are refused a visa?

Related: An LA Times article about the negative effects of the visa policy on US business.

1 I am using “elite” in a loose sense here. You might disagree, but only 5.9% of US adults have a Masters degree and 1% have a doctorate according to the 2000 Census. I won’t state our household income but I think you can guess it yourself.

Categorized as Immigration

By Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer


  1. Now that it has come up, let me place some facts on record. I have visited USA and UAE once, UK, Belgium, Holland and France twice (UK, Belgium and Holland once with family), Germany thrice (once with family), Saudi Arabia 5 times (once with family and 4 times with wife), and have lived in Libya on deputation for over 6 years with family during which period I spent all my periodical holidays in Pakistan.
    For my first visit to USA, I was given time for interview on telephone. Though I submitted my visa application after more than 150 applicants on the day of interview, I was third applicant to be called in and was granted visa within one minute only after asking which organization I served before retirement. All other countries granted me visa without interview, most of them without visiting their embassies.
    This time the visa officer (a female) asked me in taunting way, “So, how you served your government ?” Then, in spite of the fact that I had narrated that I joined as Assistant Manager and took retirement as General Manager, she asked me what my job was. So I had to explain that again. Another question she asked (again in taunting tone), “How come your son got a green card ?”
    In the end she said, “You appear to be a nice person having a beautiful wife but unfortunate for you, I can not allow you to visit US.” Then she marked a printed paper and gave that to me. It read “You have failed to prove your strong link in Pakistan proving that you will come back.” It was strange because she didn’t ask any such question. Had she asked, I had enough documentary proof that I had strong links in Pakistan that could not allow me to stay out of Pakistan (rather Islamabad) for more than a month.

  2. I forgot to write in my above comment that I had attached my three previous passports that contained the visa stamps of all my visits mentioned above.

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  4. Ajmal, you are LUCKY that she did not suggest.

    If your son is a permanent resident and well off, then he should visit you. After all as you claim that your whole family is here then your son and daughter-in-law must be very anxious to show your only grandchild to everyone.

    At least it was suggested to my friend’s father who tried to visit his son in 1999. Father is a retired teacher from China and want to come for his son’s PhD Commencement.

  5. Yea they are acting so very rudely. almost all of my collegues have failed to acquire a visa for doing their electives in states this year and all for no reason.
    i mean who is going to be the looser. not us definetely. its the american govt loosing on revenues. and we are surviving the brain drain although not in the right way. but again who gives them a damn now.

  6. 🙁

    and thank God the people we are to talk to, and you know what i mean, are in no way like the one your parents had to see. But even still….we have these guys to submit ourselves to…

    I got a thousand things to say here…but they say…wise is the one …

  7. Closed for Repairs

    One obvious effect of 9/11 has been the drop in foreign student enrollments in the US. Chronicle of Higher Education reported last week that from the ’93-’94 academic year, the drop has been 2.4%. The drop is 6% in graduate students. India is one of th…

  8. Oh God. I could rant on forever here! You guys need to see what happens at the US embassy in Dhaka. In the last 4 or 5 years, almost no one has been getting visas. And that includes students who really hadn’t asked much more than a bit of good schooling.

    When I applied for my F1 visa 3 years ago, a barely 3-4 minute interview determined my fate: it shattered my biggest dream, and made all
    12 years of hard work at school seem worthless. It didn’t matter that a Yale frosh had every right to desire to go to college; the possibility that he won’t go back to home-country simply made that irrelevant.

    Well yes, I finally made it here, after miraculously some new guy happened to notice my record and was sympathetic enough to rethink. But I had already gone through severe emotional stress, and had to start college a year late (that too after having to work hard to convince Yale of a re-admit in the next Class).

    If there’s anything in the world that needs serious reform, it has to be the US visa policy/procedure.

  9. On it once again. The day I was refused visa, A lady who had come back to Pakistan after living in USA because she found in difficult to look after her newborn child alone and stayed in Pakistan for over a year was refused entry to USA saying “if you can live without your husband for one year, you can live without him for ever.

    A couple, British man of Pakistani parents who come to Pakistan from USA and married a Pakistani women were refused visa to USA.

    I do not know any body who was granted visa on that day.

    Later, one of my relations, an architect working in UAE for the last 10 years, went to USA for official work and was granted visa in UAE. He was repatriated from US airport.

    Another relation, who was granted F1 visa, was repatriated from US airport.

    It appears to me that US administration is collecting funds through visa fee ($ 100 per person) to make up for budget deficit due to stupid war on terrorism little realising that they are in fact denying more income.

  10. Ajmal: I agree with you 100% about collecting funds through visa fee.

    What do you think about “Immigrating to Canada as a Skilled Worker.” I heard there are lots of foreign trained doctors, engineers driving taxi or making pizza in the major Canadian cities who came to Canada under skilled worker program.

    Canadian Government is charging thousands and thousands of dollars (550 visa application + 550 as a permanent residency fee per adult) in the name of visa fees. Canadian Government giving foreign highly EDUCATED Man and Woman false hopes for a better future. Most of them have employment in their home country. It should be noted that one cannot qualify for this type of visa without any experience. Irony of this if you have more degrees or/and experience according to their point system you are more valuable to Canada. They are robbing people of their savings which is so hard to earn in undeveloped countries under the false hope. It’s one thing that you came to some country as a family or visitor and try to find a job here. But when whole system inviting you as a skilled worker and in return giving you no job security that’s a criminal act. In my view it’s a form of pyramid scheme. Someone should raise voice against this injustice.

  11. you all act as if you have a god (excuse me, allah) given right to be in the USA. You DO NOT. You are/were guests here, and your piss poor attitude reflecting our new visa policy just affirms why we have the policy in the first place.

    brain drain you say… well, we don’t need your brains! You were here to suck away our knowledge, not to contribute any. So get thee hence back to your islamic homeland, and be proud of what you have there. You are so critical of the USA, yet you are banging down all doors to get here. The hypocrisy is mountainous… why don’t you be honest with yourself and stay home???

    Maybe you can try a correspondent course over the Internet?

  12. Joe: I hope you can read (and if you can’t, find an immigrant teacher in your neck of the woods, I hear they are good). Here’s what I wrote:

    Yes, I know that it is the right of the US to admit or refuse any visitor. But it is also my right to be pissed off and rant when my parents can’t visit me.

    And I am not a guest here, I live here. I have as much right to be here as you do.

    If I am correct about your location, there are a huge amount of people from my region of the world (South Asia) there who have contributed a lot to the local and national economy. Hope you appreciate it.

  13. Behaviour of American administration towards intending Muslim visitors of America differs with all other countries in two ways:
    (1) They charge visa fee first and then reject visa application and for revised visa application fee has to be deposited again which may again be rejected, while other countries generally take visa fee when they agree to grant visa. Example is of a student who got admission in a university in UK. His visa application was entertained with fee and he was advised that the university that granted admission to him was not recognised by UK government, so he should take admission in some recognised institution and apply against the already paid visa fee. So he did and he is in UK now.
    (2) An intending visitor is granted visa and when, after having spent lot of money on return air ticket he / she lands on American airport, he / she is repatriated straight away without any satisfactory reason while other countries are not so rash / cruel.

  14. Since my visit visa application was rejected on October, 24, 2004, I have been collecting data of those who were refused entry to USA and have discovered at least one similarity. Most of the persons denied visa or, after granting visa, deported immediately on their landing in USA, have names starting with “I”, for example Iftikhar, Imran, Imtiaz, Ikram, and so on. I do not find any named Al-Qaida man having name starting with “I”. Did any of the Palestinian suicide bombers have name starting with “I”, or some astrologer has told American Administration that letter “I” is not good for them ?

  15. Dad: The names starting with “I” is probably just a sample bias. What is more likely is that people with more common names would have more trouble since it is more probable that their names match with someone on the deny list.

  16. A new aspect has come up. A doctor has two small kids born in USA. After death of his kids mother, he married another lady . He had been given a job in USA. His present wife had visited Russia once. On applying for visas, his wife has been denied visa saying “What for had you gone to Russia”.

  17. It is not just Pakistan people that they are rude to I am a citizen of the USA and I have been trying for three years to get my employee here to the USA, I went in Oct of 2004 to my employee interview with the embassy the insulting questions that they directed toward me I could not believe, my husband was there with me and one of our friends, all of us left that embassy feeling like we had been tared and feathered. We have made complaints but there is nothing in the USA that can take control of the embassy there, I felt so bad for all the people waiting for their interviews after ours because I felt if they treated us like that then I could not even begin to think what the people of Pakistan go through when they have their interview
    I love my USA but I am so ashamed of the conduct the embassy of our USA gives the people that go in for a visa. My employee has strong family ties to Pakistan and everytime he goes for his interview they give him the same old crap that he has not strong ties to Pakistan, we even told them we would be responsable for him and his return on time to Pakistan. I am thinking of moving to Pakistan because I cannot advance my company with out my employee.
    I have been in Pakistan for long periods of time last time almost two years, I have never been treated badly or in a rude way ever. I have to say that Pakistan is kinder to the people that come there for a visit than my own country is that makes me very sad and angry at the same time.

  18. Hi!
    Can anyone tell about the current situation of US student visa policy? Is it getting tighter for Pakistan?

  19. Hi there,

    I’m a US green card holder. My wife is in Pakistan. What are the chances of her getting a visit visa if she applies in US consulate Islamabad. I have not filed an immigration petition for herself so far.

    Do you think a letter of recommendation from a local senator here in US can be helpful?

    Thank you and will appreciate people’s response on this,


  20. Sk: I am not sure but I would think her chances for a visit visa are pretty low since she is a big immigration risk.

  21. One thing I do not understand, how come she is an immigration risk? If she over-stays, then both of us will get deported. Laws in US are very strict these days. I think US consultate in Islamabad should learn this by now.

  22. SK:

    how come she is an immigration risk?

    A visit visa stipulates that the applicant has no intention of immigrating to the US. However, her husband is an immigrant. Because of that, she’s definitely an immigration risk.

    Instead of a regular visit visa, a V visa might be more appropriate.

    If she over-stays, then both of us will get deported.

    If that would be the rule, then no one should be denied a visa since they could be deported.

    PS. I am not a lawyer.

  23. Hi,
    Is the US admin allowing students to undertake Masters programme from there ? If No then why and till when…

  24. Hello,

    I want to come to Pakistan to get my H1-B stamped. Any experiences/ advise would be greatly appreciated… thanks.

  25. I am from Pakistan, reside and work in US and hold US Residency (Green Card). I have been reading this board and all I get is problems and issues. I feel I am the lucky one in all of your cases… My mom, father and brother all got 5year mulitple entry visa to US so that they can visit me without any hassle at all. All of them applied in different times – I wonder what the crteria is?

    It would be nice to do a survey on demographics and see who get the most visas etc. I am sure their is some rule of thumb. Also interviewers are psychologists too… I bet they use their background and judgement before making their decision. Plus I know they usually have quotas and can not go beyond that for issuing visas.

  26. i am a u.a.e resident ,i got visa of united kingdom of 5 years multiple visa,i tried for visit visa united states ,they rejected .now i m planning to marry a u.s citizen what are the chances or time to get my visit visa .or pls give me visit visa tips.

  27. In November 2001 I went to Pakistan.I and Tariq wanted to marry and family was using Watta System. So we were told yes he could marry me if he in turn would marry into family acceptable by his family concerning this Watta System. So we both agreed. We married in December 2001 and then he married again in January 2002. We filed for immigration papers for him to come to USA as my husband in February 2002, because I was his first wife and this is considered the proper position for making decisions. When he got his visa he would divorce her and all would be as the parents desired. His sisters married into other family and secure. We have tried to get him here and finally USA discovered he was married to another. So they told him in order to continue our immigration process he needed to divorce her within a year. He did this! Then last year in November 2006 they called me to Pakistan to Islamabad for interview. Told me at interview there was no way he was getting a visa with this process. Also told us that our marriage was legal in Pakistan but not legal in USA because they found him to be a polygamist, due to other marriage. So I ask what we could do and she said to remarry which is very hard to do in Pakistan without a lot of time and effort or we could renew our vows, which we did this. It was legal.Otherwise I was not married to this man I had been married to 5 years. Then she told me I it would be better if I came and lived with him in Pakistan because even if we refiled paid all the money once again there was no guarantee that he would be granted his visa. So at this point in time he is saying I dont want you to sponsor me, because I am not sure I want to come to USA. This to me is a very bad situation. I have sent letters from Congressman to Embassy, with no avail. Waste of time. I really think US Policies need to be fixed to encourage not discourage, we spent almost 5 years wasting our time with hopes he would get to come here and meet his American family as I have met my Pakistani family. I only have nice things to say for the Pakistani people. The ones I have met are curtious, kind, hospitable and very happy people. You are their guest when you go to their county. I thought our USA was the same, but it is not, at least the official are not. Anyway it was and is a very discouraging experience. Hope this informs some so they wont be so disappointed as we are.

  28. karim: Sorry can’t help you.

    Jamal: Good for you.

    Amber: Sorry, can’t help you there.

    Judith: Sorry about your predicament, but you do know that bigamy is illegal in the US and is grounds for immigration denial, right?

  29. I need some reassurance. My fiancee went to Pakistan to get his H1B stamped. I’m an American citizen, and all of this is new to me. All I know is that I don’t have a clue when he is coming home due to the whole screwed up process. Anybody know how long it takes these days to get this done? ANY input is helpful. I’d rather have some idea of what’s going to happen than none at all. He’s working on his master’s, has an uncommon name, has only had the H1B for a year, has been working on his education in the states for nine years.

  30. sir,
    i want to know my wife was married to a us citizen in 2004 she had the resident card of usa she came back from usa in 2005 june and after that she didnt went back to usa and in 2006 december she got divorced from that guy and after that we got married in july 2007 & last year 2008 march we both applied for a visit visa of usa & my wife return them their resident card because she said to me that its usa property and we ve to submit them she was so sincere and we didnt have any intentions to stay in usa they refused us saying that we dont have strong social ties in pakistan & after one month we applyedid again and got the same treatment how ridiculious is that i am a well established businesman supplies different things to millitary & a we both are very well travelled we ve been to england thrice & we have seen whole of europe twice we have seen whole far east, middle east, africa what more strong soicial ties they want & can u please tell us when is the good time to apply again for usa visa after refused twice.

  31. Noman: Sorry to hear that. Did you document all your ties to Pakistan as well as your other trips and your wife’s surrender of her green card?

  32. i try to get my fiancee to usa but they refused visa why i dont know he is a teacher his brohter is a doctor and all his family is well educated. if i go to pakistan for marriage will it be easy for him to get a visa.

  33. salam,

    i would like to know what are the chances of me getting a usa visit visa… i just applied for my australian permanent residency and i am working in my field ( printing industry ) earning 50 grand a year….

    Thanks in advance,

    Best regards,

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