At 5 months into my tour, I’ve adjudicated somewhere around 12,000 visas. I haven’t checked the exact number for a few weeks, but shortly before Thanksgiving I crossed the 10,000 mark. Why, then, have I talked so little about that part of my work? Well, let me just turn to my home subscription to the Immigration and Nationality Act for an answer:
“The records of the Department of State and of diplomatic and consular offices of the United States pertaining to the issuance or refusal of visas or permits to enter the United States shall be considered confidential and shall be used only for the formulation, amendment, administration, or enforcement of the immigration, nationality, and other laws of the United States[.]” 8 USC 1202(f).
Believe me, I am getting some good stories. Some hilarious frauds. Some awe inspiring students. Some very excited kids going to Disney World/Land. A few cases which seemed so improbable that I thought they must surely be frauds, and turned out to be 100% legitimate. Unfortunately, I can’t share those stories with you, dear reader. I am also starting to understand why so much time was spent on resilience in our training. Keeping up with the pace is tiring, and some cases are difficult to work on for a variety of reasons. Last week I had a case that absolutely broke my heart. The applicant was totally credible, had a good reason for wanting to visit the US, and yet she was absolutely not qualified for the visa, so I couldn’t give it to her, no matter how much it hurt me to say no. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (an agency of the Department of Homeland Security) can grant Humanitarian Parole to individuals who do not meet the requirements for a visa and allow them to visit the US. I did give her their website and told her about that, and maybe she’ll get to go via that route. I was a wreck after that case, and had to step away from the interview window for a few minutes before I could face more applicants. We were told in training that we would all reach that point at times, and this was my first time.
Today, however, I will tell a story.
This is a screenshot I took this evening of a website I found while interviewing an applicant. The applicant, in support of his application for a visa, gave me a paper he claimed to have written. I typed the title into google and found the above result. The abstract of his paper matched this abstract word for word. “But wait,” I can hear you all saying now, “didn’t you just tell us that visa records are confidential?” Well, there is one key difference between the above screenshot and the paper which was presented to me (which arguably was a visa record): this applicant’s name, featured prominently on his paper, was not any of the 3 who are listed as authors of the above paper, and as you can see, this paper was published 6 years ago. Telling you the outcome of my visa adjudication would be a disclosure of a visa record, which I cannot do. I figured, however, that since my applicant wasn’t giving them credit, the true authors of this paper deserved some credit somewhere.