Tuesday, February 19, 2008

U.S. embassies enjoy huge fees from rejected visas

Citizens of Third World nations have become victims of American arrogance. How they had wanted to escape economic difficulties in their home countries, but could not due to strict issuance of U.S. visas overseas.

Most often, a large number of those applying for tourist visas being rejected at U.S. consulates overseas. It is hard to imagine how much revenues the U.S government is making from the huge income derived from approved and rejected visa applications worldwide. And host governments are silently disgruntled as to the manner by which the U.S. consulates are accumulating enormously from visa fees, without any taxes paid to the host governments.

Reading Mr. Eric Lucas' article "Tourist Trap", which appeared on L.A. Times (Feb. 19 issue), exemplifies at how the American consulates abroad are screening tightly every visa applicant who wishes to come over to America for pleasure or business trip. And visa officers couldn't care less if the applicant's intention is honest or otherwise.

Observations showed that granting tourist visas to foreigners is made at random, no matter how intact and voluminous an applicant's documents are ready for showing upon demand by the visa officer inteviewing any concerned applicant. Perhaps, the game being played at the U.S. consulates abroad is psychological in nature. Those who could hardly express themselves properly during interview are doomed for outright rejection. While those who are more articulate may have a good chance of getting approved.

No wonder that over the years, tourist arrivals in America have greatly declined. Using Mr. Lucas' data, only a total of 27 million tourists came to the U.S. last year, or down by 11 percent, as compared to 26 million in 2006. The world's aggragate travel revenues are estimated at US$5 trillion and employs a "quarter of a billion people." This is an opportunity that United States is missing in so far as human commerce is concerned, Lucas cotinued.

Lucky are the citizens of at least 29 countries that have waiver visas to visit the United States. Perhaps, most of us knew what these countries are. While "the rest of the world's people--all multi-colored billions are suspects", Lucas said.

This contradicts Canada's manner of allowing foreigners to tour to come into the country as tourists or immigrants. At present, Canada accepts non-visa visits of citizens from at least 50 countries worldwide. While the European Union allows its EU-member citizens to visit Europe, including some 43 countries like South Korea, Brazil, Chile and Mexico. This means that it is much easier for Mexicans to come to Europe than visit the United States, he added.

But why do people from developing countries are hankering to come to the U.S.? Of course, the answer is to seek a greener pasture for immigrants and pleasure or business for other travelers. The dream for a good life is driving these people nuts because economic difficulties are unbearable in their home turfs, probably due to too much politics and poverty brought about by graft and corruption in governments.

With the fee going up to US$131 per application for tourist visa, many people are still banking on luck that they may be given a visa which is good for ten years. Try to observe the crowd infront of the U.S. Embassy in Manila, along Roxas Blvd., and you wouldn't be surprised at how these applicants brave the risks of another rejection stamped on their passports. But still the persistence and determination are there, despite the odds.

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