Thursday, March 5, 2009

Huyen's Visa Story Part 3

After two hours of sitting in a cafe, a half a block from the US Embassy, my phone rang. It was Huyen's number. I picked it up and said, "Hello." There was silence on the other end. After a moment I heard through a choked up voice, "I'm done now."

Huyen didn't get her visa.

I'm not sure what to write because I'm full of anger at the moment. Huyen was handed a form sheet with the reason why she was rejected. There were two blanks on the sheet: "Depending on the nonimmigrant visa classification, other requirements could also apply and have also been the basis for refusal of the visa. In your case you have applied for a B1/B2 (enter Visa type here), but have failed to demonstrate your eligibility due to the lack of ties (short description of missing component)."

The two bolded things are what the interviewer scribbled in. He then said to Huyen that she is too young and doesn't have enough money to go to America. I love my country, but this is fucking bullshit.

I could go on a rant about how Huyen has all her ties to Vietnam (her family, her job, her bank accounts, etc. etc.). But I won't. I could go on a rant about how America is a country that favors the rich -- words literally said to Huyen at the embassy. But I won't. I could go on a rant about how in tough economic times, the USA should open their arms to tourism. But I won't. I could go on a rant about the dozens of times Huyen has befriended/given rides/bought ice cream or dinner for American friends of friends who have come tho Hanoi this past year and when it was America's turn to show some kindness they slammed the door in her face. But I won't. I could go on about how America was once a nation of immigrants but now we're the hardest nation in the world to even just visit. But I won't. I could go on about the criminality of charging $131 for a five minute interview in a country where the average yearly income is $832 (according to our state department's website). But I won't. I could go on a rant about lots of things floating around in my head. But I won't.

All I'm going to say is this: After hanging up the phone with Huyen, I quickly jogged over to the embassy. Huyen was standing in front of the building, tears forming in her eyes. As I hugged her she said, "I really wanted to meet your grandmas, and your brother, and your sister-in-law, and your niece and to see your parents and your sister."

As I typed this, for the first time since I hugged my family goodbye at JFK airport last year, I have tears streaming down my face.