Like myself, there have been many others who have been refused a visa by the US Consular and the reasons behind these denials appear quite dubious. On this my fifth attempt at obtaining a non-immigrant visa, which again, was a waste of my time, I have decided to analyse their process which does not appear to be transparent and accountable but rather one that is subjected to personal whims and judgement based on one’s appearance. But first, let me share my previous journeys to the Consular to obtain a visa and the subsequent ridiculous reasons for their denials.

My first attempt to obtain a visa was in 2012. At the time, Evil Senpai and I had just started dating and he thought it would be a good idea to take a mini vacation together and since going to the US was the most financially reasonable destination, he asked if I would apply for it. So I did. The interview seemed to be going well until I was asked if I had been anywhere outside of Trinidad and Tobago. At that point in time, I had never left the country because of school commitments. And then, because of that, I was not granted a visa.

The second time I applied for this visa was exactly a year after the first, since the only time I could leave the country was during the carnival period as no classes were usually scheduled during that time. This time I was interviewed by a lady, who asked a lot of questions but did not seem to believe my responses so it was denied again. Evil Senpai was dismayed and wanted me to try again. Reluctantly, I did and was met by the worst CSR ever! He was rude, arrogant and didn’t even want to listen to a word I said and did not want to see any of my documents. It was as if I was wasting his time as he offensively told me that the letter I had could be from Bill Gates and it wouldn’t matter because it’s not about letters and third parties, it’s about you and if you can’t justify that you’re not going to stowaway, then woe be unto you. After this episode, I swore that I was NEVER going back there again.

Alas, it was not to be. Because no one on my husband’s side of the family over there had met me, they requested that I apply yet again for the visa because my cousin-in-law was going to have her sweet sixteen birthday party, which was to be a grand bashment with all the family invited. I warily headed back there a fourth time and was told by the CSR that because Evil Senpai was a US Resident, I could not be granted a non-immigrant visa. However, no alternatives were provided with regard to what I could apply for in its stead.

Finally, this year, my mother-in-law is about to have a housewarming family barbecue/family reunion and of course, she wanted me to come. Knowing fully well that I didn’t see any possibility of getting the visa but not wanting to disappoint her by not trying, I applied for the fifth and definitely the last time. After waiting for an hour, my name was called and as I walked up to the counter, I saw my passport to the right hand side of the CSR and automatically knew, before I even opened my mouth that my visa was going to be denied again. And so said, so done. Before I knew it, my passport was flung out at me by female CSR as if it was some filthy object she had the displeasure of touching while gifting me a piece of paper, condescendingly stating that it was ‘the law’ and that ‘the law’ had not changed.

As I walked back to work, I began to question this ‘law’ she was referring to since she apparently expected me to aware of it. The $5,360 I used to apply those five times could have been spent taking a vacation elsewhere, not to mention the cumulative total of ten hours I wasted at the embassy that I would never get back again.

You’ve got to hand it to them for creativity because they always found some questionable reason to deny me the visa. These verbal reasons they disguise in the form of ‘law’, attempts to justify their claim, reasons which have never been consistent. If I walk with documents to verify what I am saying, and they do not ask to see it, how can you apply ‘the law’ of ‘incapability to provide sufficient proof for visit’, when I was never given a chance to prove it the first place. This is what happened in my third and fifth visit. Not to mention the other ‘law’ that states ‘inability to show sufficient ties to the country’. This is a joke because I have known people who owned more property and had more finances than me and were denied visas e.g. I knew of someone who had house, car, a well-paid position in a very reputable company and the CSR told him that he needed to get married, have a couple of children and then reapply for a visa. What is this madness? Then, there are people who had less finances and less ‘ties’ than me and were granted a visa. Case in point, someone who I knew was working for less money than myself and didn’t own any property but got approval for one.

It is clear to me that the system for granting visas is very biased. However, this biasness is not only exclusive to the US Embassy. Even here in sweet T&T, there are people experiencing problems with the immigration division as noted in this letter to the Editor of the Express Newspaper from someone who was and still is a victim of this biasness.

Returning to the issue of the visa, if they develop a system whereby there’s a checklist or rubric that people can be assessed against, then that would give people some sort of concrete justification as to why their visa was denied. Hence people would not cry injustice when provided with some whimsical reason for denial. The rubric could consist of the following items:

  • Bank account over $XXX                : Yes/No
  • Property                                       : Yes/No
  • Student                                        : Yes/No
  • Earnings over $XXX                       : Yes/No
  • Job Status                                    : Permanent/Temporary/Part-time
  • Purpose of Visit                             : Tourism/Medical/Family/Job
  • Proof of Visit Provided                    : Yes/No
  • Previous Travel outside T&T            : Yes/No
  • Loans                                           : Yes/No
  • Police Certificate of Character         : Yes/No

Each one of these items on the rubric would have an clear and concise explanation with a certain numerical weight so that once a person has obtained a certain number of points, s/he would qualify for a time appropriate visa in accordance to the amount of points scored. For instance, let’s say a person achieves forty points; it would qualify him/her for a six month visa; something to that effect. People would appreciate getting a three month, two month or even a one month visa as the case maybe because the majority of people do not want or need a ten year visa. Not to mention that this way makes the process more transparent. With something like this, a person can finally feel a sense of comfort knowing that there is some form of concrete justification as to why the visa was denied instead of being handed a piece of paper quoting some ‘law’ which can be bent to serve whatever needs necessary in order to deny someone a visa. They could also implement a pre-screening process on their website like the Canadians, which would reduce the amount of time and money spent for people, who, like myself, have been subjected to unreasonable visa denials.

So I want to say thank you US Consular for denying me the non-immigrant visa five times in a row. Thank you for taking my hard earned money and laughing all the way to the bank at my expense. Thank you for letting me break a promise to my then seven year old cousin, who has been looking out for my visit since 2012. Thank you for not allowing me the opportunity to visit to shop for items for my wedding back in 2013 and 2014 as well as furniture and appliances for my HOME here in TRINIDAD. Thank you for making me miss my cousin-in-law’s sweet sixteen birthday party in 2015 and last but not least, thank you for making me miss the housewarming barbecue this year, where everyone except yours truly would be there. God bless you all.