Immigration & Green Card Law Firm, Lawyers, Attorneys: San Franscisco Bay Area to San Jose: Visa Officer Dispels Rumor

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Visa Officer Dispels Rumor

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The following article was originally published in the Beijing Youth Daily (June 8, 2000), following Mr. Charles Bennett's telephonic answers to public queries on F-1 visa. This article can also be found at the U.S. Consulate's website. Mr. Bennett, who is a chief of the visa section at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, clarifies prevailing misunderstanding about the F-1 visa process, they call the "Four Myths". Although Mr. Bennett is addressing the Chinese public, we find these questions and answers have wide application to other foreign nationals. We reproduce this article because it is of interest to HILG clients wishing to study in the U.S.
"U.S. Visa Officers Dispel Rumors"

(8 June 2000) On 2 June Mr. Charles Bennett, chief of the visa section at the American Embassy in Beijing, went to the Beijing Telegraph Building to answer telephone queries from the public. He was accompanied by visa officers James Heller and William Duff, together they answered several dozen questions over a system that allowed up to 400 callers to listen in.

Mr. Bennett began by saying "There are certain matters people do not have accurate information about concerning the American Embassy and visas. We call these misconceptions the Four Myths.

The first myth is that we don't issue visas to Chinese students . I can tell you categorically that this is not true. The proof is that last year alone we issued over 8,000 visas to Chinese students to go to study in American universities and colleges. I would also like to point out that according to statistics from various sources there are now more Chinese studying in the U.S. than students from any other country; over 50,000 Chinese students are currently enrolled in U.S. universities.

The second myth is that we have a quota for Chinese students-that we can only issue a certain number of student visas, either every day, or every month or every year. This is also false. We issue a student visa to any student we think is qualified . We have no quotas, and anybody can apply; if we find that you are qualified, we will issue you a visa. It's that simple. And there is no maximum number of visas that we can issue per day, month or year.

The third myth is that we have special law or policy regarding visas for Chinese students . This also is not true. There is one U.S. law concerning student visas - a law passed by Congress - and that law applies just as much to students from France, from Russia or from Mexico as to students from China.

The fourth myth is that how many visas we issue depends on the current state of the political relations between the U.S. and China. This is absolutely not true. Issuance of visas depends on the law passed by Congress, making the decisions of visa officers completely outside the realm of politics. Even if the political relationship between our two nations is not doing so well, or if, as now, it is comparatively relaxed, the policy remains the same. Whether or not we issue somebody a visa depends not on politics, but rather on that individual applicant's qualifications."
Below are some of the more interesting questions asked by callers, with the answers that the visa officials gave:

Q: I have been refused a visa once. Will this influence my next application?

A: No, it won't. At the Embassy we have a rule that when you reapply, the officer who turned you down cannot see you again. You must be interviewed by another officer. We think this is fair. We visa officers are human beings, not computers, and sometimes we do make mistakes. So we guarantee that we will give your application a fresh look-as Americans say, we'll give you "an impartial hearing".
We have another rule:

If you've been turned down once, you must reapply on Thursday.

Q: My husband is in the US now, and I want to apply for an F-2 visa. I've heard that I have to present wedding pictures and other group photos as part of the application process. Unfortunately I don't have any. What should I do?

A: The purpose of asking to see your wedding pictures is to confirm that you are truly married. Some Chinese applicants have cheated us in the past with bogus marriages. If you don't have any group photo, you can bring letters or e-mails between you and your husband, or anything else that demonstrates the genuineness of your relationship.

Q: My money is not coming from my parents but from a relative. Can I get a visa?

A: You should tell the truth when you come in for your interview. What is your relation to your sponsor? You will need to explain what your plans are. If you tell us that somebody is going to give you all that money, you can be sure that we will ask how you intend to pay it back.You had better be prepared to explain how you are going to return to China and make money!

Q: I want to pursue an MBA at Indiana University, but last year I was turned down for a visa three times. I was rejected again last week. Could you tell me honestly what my chances are of getting a visa next time?

A: It's very hard for us here in the studio to tell you exactly why we couldn't issue you a visa - we don't have your application in front of us. I can tell you, however, that the vast majority of people who fail to get a student visa from us are unsuccessful because we are not convinced that they have solid reasons to come back to China after finishing their education. Everybody has a different way of answering our questions, but you must be prepared to explain to the consular officer in detail how you are going to use what you learn in the U.S. here in China. We know that with an MBA you can get a good job in the U.S. . You have to persuade us that you intend to come back to China and use your new expertise here in China. This is a critical question.

Q: My visa application was rejected last month. I've been told I should wait three months before reapplying. Is that true?

A: According to our rules, you can apply three times in one year, but the period between any two times depends on you. If you were turned down today, Friday, then you can apply again on this coming Thursday. But if , for example, you were turned down on 3 March, 5 April and 2 June, you cannot apply again until 2 June of next year.

The information provided throughout the Website is general in nature and may not apply to any particular set of facts or circumstances. It should not be construed as legal advice and does not constitute an engagement of Heller Immigration Law Group, LLP, or establish an attorney-client relationship.

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