US Visa Issuing Procedures Modified

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The number of people wishing to travel to the United States has been on the rise in recent years. In 1997 (the fiscal year – from October to October – is implied) the number of applicants was 11,187; in 1998 – 10,975; in 1999 – 26,599. During the period from August 30–1999 to August 30–2000–a total of 26,476 applications from citizens of Armenia’seeking entrance visas to the United States were sent to the US Embassy in Yerevan. 14,375 of the applicants were denied visas. These data were presented by representatives of the Consular Department of the US Embassy in Armenia at a press conference on August 31.

Saying that some 55 percent of the applicants are denied visas–US Embassy Consul Lily Kosier explained that repeated applications from citizens–who were once denied visas–hampers the process of consideration of applications submitted by other citizens. In this view–the order of consideration of applications has been amended.

Thus–if one and the same person gets two denials within a period of six months–no subsequent application submitted by this person will be considered within the next six months. The Embassy’s Consular Department will not take into consideration requests of US citizens asking the Embassy to speed up visa issuing procedures of their relatives or friends in Armenia. Document consideration procedures for citizens aged above 65 and those who have already visited the United States once have been streamlined–which implies that such citizens can simply drop their passports into a special box. The Embassy will also verify the authenticity of coupons indicating the date of interview. If a forged coupon is found–the applicant holding it will not be allowed to participate in interviews in the next six months. The Embassy officials also provided explanations regarding denials of group invitations. According to them–if the possibility of even one member of an invited group to enter the USA is challenged–the whole group gets a refusal.

US Embassy Deputy Consul Gregory Morrison explained the tougher measures by the fact that intending visitors of the USA are regarded as potential emigran’s. There is practically no guarantee of their returning home and that is why much attention is paid to strong links with the homeland. Among the decisive criteria are also financial and social status of applicants–kinship–etc..

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