Saturday, August 11, 2007

Immigration Update

After we found sponsors for Esther, Joe and Miriam (see HERE), we anticipated that getting the visas would be a straight forward matter. Because airplane tickets were selling out about a month in advance, we decided to go ahead and buy six tickets for the 29th of August.

That was a big mistake. On the 8th of this month, they had an interview at the American embassy which would normally have resulted in the visas being issued. They were told that all their paper work was in order and that everything was fine…except for one thing. One of the sponsors had not included a copy of his 2006 tax returns because they were not yet finished (the government had granted his accountant a routine extension). Instead he included his 2005 and 2004 tax returns with proof of 2006 income to show he was well above the financial level which determines eligibility to sponsor an immigrant. However, proof of income was not good enough for the government, which insists that they can only issue Esther’s visa after they have a copy of the returns.

After the tax returns are finished, they must be sent to the embassy. There will then be a processing time of at least 8 weeks (even though the actual work only takes a couple hours) before the visa can be issued. Although the sponsorship forms for Joe and Miriam were fine, we are told that their visas cannot be issued independently of Esther’s.

This means that there is little hope that my family will be able to fly out on their tickets of the 29th. To make matters worse, the travel agent has told us that it is impossible to change the date on our tickets or to get a refund. Moreover, they can’t even use the tickets to come and visit me because their passports have to go to the embassy along with the tax returns (which by then will hopefully be finished).

As can be expected, I am not very happy about these developments. Having been in America since early June, I am very much missing my lovely wife and family.

Matthew is enrolled to start at CCA this fall, so I am going to see what can be arranged to get him out here on his existing ticket (because Matthew has dual citizenship, he can come and go as he pleases).
I have written to my congressman to see if anything can be done to expedite things and also to find out why Joe and Miriam’s visas can’t be issued independently. Further updates will appear on this blog as they become available.
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