Thursday, May 23, 2019
Guest post by Rita Cinquemani, a rising 2L at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University
Check-in, grab a number, and take a seat. Despite weeks of preparation, nervous eyes shift from the line to the floor and back again. Feet tap. Hands are folded nicely. Each person is here for the same reason – to receive a golden ticket into the United States – a visa.
Each day, over a hundred individuals walk into the U.S. Consulate General in Tijuana and wait for an interview to potentially receive a non-immigrant visa. Once there, they are separated into small groups and directed to line up in front of teller-style windows. With each step, they clutch their paperwork closer to their heart. It is one step closer to getting approved.
On the line, there is less than a foot between each person. Hope floats into the air; the cloud grows with each step forward. Once at the window, each person seeking a non-immigrant visa gets less than five minutes to explain their story to a foreign service officer. The presumption is guilty of immigrant intent unless proven otherwise; a stark contrast to the American legal system where individuals are presumed innocent. Those seeking tourist visas get three minutes, while others seeking H-2 temporary work visas get two and a half minutes to plead their case. A decision is granted on the spot.
A non-immigrant visa can be denied for ineligibilities under law, if the application is incomplete, or due to immigrant intent. At this time, individuals have two options: they can re-apply or accept the decision. There is no appeal process. If one chooses to apply again, the process restarts at the beginning. The $160.00 USD application fee needs to be paid and a new interview needs to be scheduled. It may take weeks to get another appointment.
With the cloud of hope looming overhead, they exit the U.S. Consulate with a choice: to try again or find another way to enter into the United States. Some choose to head north.
- posted by KitJ on behalf of Rita Cinquemani