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April 14, 2011

Wrongfully judged

"I am not the kind of mother who will abandon her husband and four children!" I wanted to shout at the US Embassy consul after she expressionlessly pronounced she's denying my visa application. After asking me just a few questions, she checked something on a piece of blue paper and handed it to me.

Feeling shocked, I read, "You did not establish that you intended to stay temporarily in the United States." How could she have come to that conclusion after asking me what my job is, how much I make, and how many kids I have without asking me further questions? Just because it would be my first time to visit her country doesn't mean I intend to stay there and leave my family with little hope of seeing them again in the near future!

I actually only applied for a visa because my brother, who's graduating from a Masters Degree in Music Performance this coming May from the State University of Illinois, really wanted us (our mother, my sister, and I) to be there during that momentous occasion. Our father died without even witnessing my brother graduate from college. And we felt it's only right and fitting that the rest of our small and closely-knit family could be there to cheer him on when he becomes the first among us, siblings, to acquire more than a Bachelor's Degree.

Heck, ask me where my dream destinations are and I'll tell you I'd love to see Italy, Greece, and Jordan, among other historic places. The US is not even in my top 10! So to be rejected from visiting a country that I haven't even planned on visiting in the near future, if not for my brother's graduation, is a slap in the face.

It's very ironic that when the consul handed me back my passport, she told me, "If you think I made an error, you can apply again and perhaps another consul will have a different decision." Um, spend another US$140 just to wait in line for almost five hours and open myself up to another chance to be insulted again? I don't think so.

So, speaking of errors, after exiting from the US Embassy compound at around 3 p.m., my family and I (my mom, sister, and four-year-old niece were granted visas, by the way) went straight to a nearby restaurant to appease our grumbling tummies. It was there that we discovered that the passport I got back was my sister's and that mine was left with the consul. Duh?!

So my already tired and hungry sister walked back to the embassy to retrieve my passport and submit hers. She said the guard made her wait outside and when he came back, he was grumbling it took them a long time to look for my passport and had the audacity to ask her, Why didn't your sister check it earlier?!" (The reprimanding tone is better heard in Tagalog, "Bakit kasi hindi tiningnan ng kapatid mo?!") To which my sister replied, "She got denied a visa, do you think she'll prioritize looking at her passport?" ("Na-deny na nga yung tao, sa tingin mo ba una n'yang gagawin eh tingnan yung passport n'ya?")

Wow, what nerve to pass the blame on me?! Excuse me, if the US Embassy is as efficient as they claim to be, that shouldn't have happened in the first place!

Yes, I know that there are Filipinos who do intend to become illegal aliens once they reach US shores. I don't blame the Americans for wanting to prevent that happening as much as possible. But goodness, the US Embassy should find a better way to screen applicants! They continue to deny truthful people the chance to go there for an honest-to-goodness visit and are still letting TNT-wannabes through!

Case in point, my husband was also denied a visa several years ago. His intention in going to Guam was to give away his sister at her wedding because their dad had already passed away. He didn't get to go. My brother's friend and the friend's sibling were also denied visas before even though their urgent reason was to see their dying father who can no longer travel for the trip back home. The father did come home later—in an urn.

So, am I bitter about the experience? Yes. Did I take it personally? How could I not? And it's not because I wouldn't be able to step foot in the United States, but because I wouldn't be there to see my brother graduate and experience the bonding moments he was excitedly planning (I'll be celebrating my birthday the day after his graduation) before we'd all come home together. I am more so indignant because the consul passed unfair judgment despite the limited information she had on me. What hurts the most is to be perceived as the kind of wife and mother who will leave her family just to pursue a dream of getting rich in the supposedly land of milk and honey.

I am not that kind of person. And I don't think neither are all the many other Filipinos with honest intentions who were denied US visas. Sure, there are bad eggs in the basket but there are also good ones that deserve to be given a chance.

It is simply my hope that the African-American lady consul who was manning window 4 that afternoon of March 2, 2011 could read this. Maybe then, she'll realize that she did make an error—twice, in fact.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of HerWord or BusinessWorld.




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8 comments so far (post your comment)


I haven't applied for a US visa yet. But my 72-year old mom did. She applied twice because she really wanted to attend the wedding of my youngest brother in Ohio. And twice she was denied. First by an American consul and then by a Filipino consul. She got so sad and depressed :)

Posted by Lea on Saturday, 05.28.11 @ 14:12pm


Sometimes it's even worse because it's our own countrymen's fault. Did you know about how Dasmarinas Village actually prevents people from getting visas to countries with embassies within the village. Here's an interesting story from Philippine Star's James Deakin:

http://www.pbase.com/cmanaginged/image/87077643

Posted by Jay on Wednesday, 04.27.11 @ 12:08pm


It would've been easier to accept the rejection if they'd refund even half of the application fee. Otherwise, as my mom used to say, it's like being held-up. I bet they earn more from the rejected applications than they spend going after TNTs (who are most probably useful & productive individuals there). Like you, I also hope the US Embassy could improve the screening process.

Posted by Loi on Friday, 04.15.11 @ 10:41am


I can totally relate with Ruth's experience. Being denied for a visa can hurt your ego - and your pocket, too! I feel sorry for Ruth, though, 'cause hers is a family affair, mine was work-related. I just find it hard to believe that what they're doing is "part of their job" when, if you really think about it, it's a clear-cut power trip. But what can we do? They're the ones behind that window and we're not. 'Guess we'll have to live with that.

Posted by Mari on Friday, 04.15.11 @ 06:01am


Hi Ruth. You were lucky the consul talked to you. Mine is a classic. Yes I was denied too. The Consul was busy trying to staple something to a passport. I patiently waited for him to get done. Then one look at my passport and he checked the same thing. handed it back to me. I asked "that's it?" I was so irked I just walked away. That was the easiest & shortest way to earn his salary. Man, I paid for his time. He could have asked me more than my name and what country have I visited! Looking back I can imagine how peeved I was. I have to visit my grandmother there in the nursing home & everyone in the family decided I have a better chance so they picked me to represent the family. Well, it's not just my day. It took me longer to park my car than my time with the consul then. Cheerio!

Posted by Jocelyn B. Delovieres on Thursday, 04.14.11 @ 21:30pm


Thanks Macky :) Yes, I acknowledge that God must have other plans for me. What continued to rankle though was being judged as someone who's ready to leave her family behind with no plans of coming back. I know many TNTs don't get to come home for a long time and, heaven knows, I'm not the kind of wife and mother who would be able to stand being away from my hubby and kids for years.

Posted by Ruth on Thursday, 04.14.11 @ 16:47pm


hi, ruth, am sure a lot of people can relate to your experience, most people i know say there's really no formula to pass the interview, God has a reason why you weren't able to get your visa, super sad lang talaga that you can't attend your brother's graduation, anyway, am looking forward to more of your stories in HerWord.

Posted by Macky on Thursday, 04.14.11 @ 15:56pm


Have you ever been denied a US Visa? Please feel free to share your experiences. Thank you.

Posted by HerWord.com on Thursday, 04.14.11 @ 15:44pm


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