Saturday, May 1, 2010
Last. Visa. EVER.
When you’ve done visa-mill line work for as long as I have (somewhere between 2 and 4 times the average amount of time), and struggled with it as much as I have, you think a lot when you start to get close to the end about what you want your Last Visa Ever to be. Do you want it to be an issuance or a refusal? A student, or an old person? A mom traveling to Disney with her 2 kids, or a new bride traveling to New Jersey to set up house?
For quite a while, the cynical, worn-out, tired-of-freaking-visa-interviews side of me thought I wanted it to be one last refusal. One last “No, I’m not going to let you into my country so you can stay there illegally and work under the table and set up or add to your own little ghetto area where nobody speaks English and nobody wants to.” It would satisfy the “sick of it” side of me.
But, as the time drew nearer, I realized that I didn’t want to end my time doing visa work with an example of what drove me nuts about it. I wanted to end my visa years on a positive note, to remind myself why it’s good work that needs to be done, why it’s okay that I’ve spent the first nearly-five years of my Foreign Service career focusing on this stuff. I wanted to end it all with a heartwarming case, a case that said to me, “See? There are good reasons why we need to facilitate travel, good people who use their visas correctly and do legitimate things.”
So what was my Last Visa Ever? Depends on how you measure it. If you measure it by the last visa I adjudicated to completion in the computer system, it was a refusal – a family of four from a very rural area who had never traveled anywhere before, who had a relative in the U.S. with dubious immigration status, who said they were going for “tourism” for six weeks even though on their income they could clearly never hope to afford even the flights. However, if you measure it by the last interview I did (which I couldn’t finish in the computer because some checks weren’t back), it was an issuance – a very legitimate case of an elderly couple who have traveled to the U.S. several times before, and go every year and a half or so to visit their son who studied at a good university in America and stayed there to work (legally).
So I guess both sides were satisfied, but I’m glad my last visa applicants, my last interview, were the good kind. That said, I’m also glad it’s over.