August 12, 2005


After the 9/11 incident it has become very difficult for the general Bangladeshis to get US Visas. Even amongst the thousands of diversity lottery for immigration winners many get rejected after the screening. Many Bangladeshi students/immigrants are living in US. Naturally their family members need to visit USA from time to time. Below is a touching tale of a parent about their experience in the US embassy of Dhaka which is translated and summarized by me from the original published in the Bangla daily Prothom Alo.

(AZM Abdul Ali is a retired government official in his Seventies. He and his wife went first to USA in the mid nineties to visit his brother and his daughter studying in USA. )

This year Mr. Ali & his wife needed to go to USA for two reasons, to be with his brother who was critically ill and in his deathbed. And second to see his newly born child of his another daughter, who is studying in USA. They applied for a VISA paying about $200 and here is a snippet of the Visa Interview:

Visa Officer: (after some discussion about his previous visit) I think you won't come back if you go to US.
Mr. Ali: Why are you saying that? My two children are temporarily living in US. They have not applied for immigration although they are there since long and they are not sure whether they will be staying in US for long. So for what reason I should sacrifice my settled life in Bangladesh to stay in USA on my own?
Visa officer: Everybody tells the same story. (refusing the VISA)

Mr. Ali said that he wouldn't have complained if he had not been given one letter from the vice consul, which says:

Your Visa has been regretted under US immigration and nationality act 214 (B). Under this law applicants for nonimmigrant visas are presumed to be intended immigrants. You have failed to prove that you have strong ties in your home country.

Mr. Ali was surprised because he was not asked at any time in his interview to prove his ties in the home country. He had all the relatives, property certificates, sufficient bank balances and influential references which could prove his status and bonds in Bangladesh. He wrote back to the consul citing the thing that it is wrong to accuse him that he has failed to prove something which was not asked to prove.

He never got a reply. But to see an end, as in the letter of the vice consul it was stated that he can apply again to another VISA officer, he paid another $200 to apply again after three months. He and his wife faced the same Visa official who asked the same questions and got the same answers. Then he mentioned to her that according to the norm another officer should take their interview. She let another officer take their interview. He asked the same questions like a robot and the discussion continued:

2nd Visa Officer: You are not coming back. So according to our law I cannot grant you VISA permission.
Mr. Ali: Could you please specify what the law of your country regarding this is?
2nd Visa Officer: No you have to honor our law. You don't have strong ties in Bangladesh. You did not visit other countries recently.
Mr. Ali: Because I did not need to visit other countries. I can prove you that I have strong ties in our country. Would you like to see some documents or you can check my references.
2nd Visa Officer: No our law is different for each individual. We treat each case differently.

Mr. Ali: I have heard the phrase "show me the man, I will show you the rule", I did not know it is applied in US also. (They were refused).

Mr. Ali laments on this with heavy heart because his brother had died in the mean time and he is yet to meet his granddaughter. Mr. Ali ironically tells that he had the chance to contribute to US budget $400 even little it may seem. The winner is ofcourse the US government who did not have to lose anything.


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