Thursday, September 05, 2013

End Visa Applicants Woes At Embassies


‘End Visa Applicants Woes At Embassies’
‘Citizens Embarrassed’

Arab Times:  KUWAIT CITY, Sept 4

MP Mohammad Tana Al-Enezi urged the Interior Minister and his Foreign Affairs counterpart to end the embarrassing treatment against Kuwaiti visa applicants at the embassies of European countries and the US.

MP Al-Enezi accused the embassies of fixing long-term appointments for Kuwaitis without considering their conditions and noted some of the applicants are seriously ill or under intense pressure to meet up with academic studies, so they do not have time for such delays. He argued that Kuwait accords the citizens of these countries respect to obtain visa at the point of entry without effort, but there is no reciprocity in that regard.

He is of the view that the countries in question should not be acting in that manner knowing that Kuwaitis travel there for tourism, medical treatment or studies and not as refugees or beggars. 

- end - 

I completely and emphatically agree. 

I have helped several people fill out the tourist visa application to the US.  The process takes approximately 90 minutes online (for a native English speaker) and some of the questions are bordering on harassment:  "Do you intend to visit the United States to engage in prostitution?" for example.  Or, "Are you a terrorist?"  I found the questions degrading (I should post them....)    I don't BLAME MP Al-Enezi for the term "embarrassing."  These questions ARE embarrassing.  Have some cultural sensitivity!

Kuwait has never asked a US citizen for their bank statements to be able to enter Kuwait (as the US does). IF they did, a whole lot of contractors wouldn't make it here - I can guarantee you that.

The United States enjoys a very good relationship with Kuwait where Americans can get their visas at the airport.  The US does not reciprocate in this relationship.  

Instead, it asks that you schedule an appointment online (sometimes months in advance if it is peak travel season), pay a 40 KD fee (at Burgan Bank and no other venue), fill out pages and pages of demeaning and demanding online questions.  And then wait to hear if you might be granted a visa.  

In many cases, people's names are similar to those on watch lists so they must wait longer to be cleared by a security agency back in the States. Sometimes it takes months.  I've  spoken to US embassy personnel in regards to this and they say, "Oh, but you can easily find out about the visa status online."  Sure - IF you want to read the standard response of,  "in process."  You can never speak to a human about it.  I can't tell you how many Kuwaiti friends (some from VERY high ranks) who have called me to say, "Do you know anyone you can call at the US embassy to find out about 'Flan's' visa status?"  It's sad.

Imagine if an American went to the Embassy of Kuwait and they were asked to fill out a form asking, "Are you going to Kuwait to engage in prostitution?"  That's just crass.

"Do unto others as you would have them do to you."  Golden rule, dudes.  Seriously.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I got 2 things to say about this subject. I do know that the reason they ask all those questions is that IF you end up getting arested for anyting when you go to the states, they will go over the visa application thoroughly and try to find something that fits and charge you with lying to federal authorities. Also the embassy was very good about emailing me several times updating me on my brother in laws visa status.
Gail

American Girl said...

Totally agree! And they deny them based on the silliest of reasons.

Like you said, if the US citizens entering Kuwait had to show evidence of financial stability, most would have never made it onto the airplane.

Anonymous said...

Do they (embassy/Govt agency) expect anyone to tick a "yes" to the embarrassing questions??? :D

Paul said...

Ironically enough, I just came back from an appointment at the US Embassy this morning. I am a US Citizen and my appointment was simply adding visa pages to my passport. Out of the 8 windows that were open, only ONE of them was dedicated for US Citizens. The other eight were for non-citizens seeking visas to the US. There was 5 people ahead of me and it took me almost two hours for my turn, whereas the turn around for the interviews for visas (and the time it took to make a decision) took approximately 4-5 minutes each. Sitting next to one of the windows, over half of the applications were approved.

So based on my experience, the aforementioned report may not be entirely accurate. Furthermore, it's interesting to see how the Embassy prioritizes its services.

Anonymous said...

A requirement at the Embassy of Kuwait in the US is to prove that you do not have malaria. It took my family and I hours to search and drive to a lab in Los Angeles that offered this diagnostic test, and cost $400. Reason for the difficulty? Malaria is not really prevalent in the US, yet US citizens are required to submit the lab report for a residency permit. The frustrations can go two ways.

Desert Girl said...

The US Embassy, Kuwait does a LOT in the world of social media. They're on Twitter and Facebook. Maybe what they should consider is a discussion board or forum to receive feedback.

This is just my personal experience and I agree with Paul - other peoples' experiences may differ.

Anonymous said...

A requirement at the Embassy of Kuwait in the US is to prove that you do not have malaria. It took my family and I hours to search and drive to a lab in Los Angeles that offered this diagnostic test, and cost $400. Reason for the difficulty? Malaria is not really prevalent in the US, yet US citizens are required to submit the lab report for a residency permit. The frustrations can go two ways.

Anonymous said...

In addition to Paul's comment, it is embarrassing to see how disorganized this Embassy is and how simple it would be to improve the situation. I noticed that they are hiring finally which should increase the staff at the windows, however, does an applicant really need Arabic skills in the American Services department? All those hard-working Americans working on Arifjan that want a 'get out of jail card' probably can't comply with the openings, but like the NBK bank on Arifjan, it is appropriate to put an 'American face' with some good ol' American organizational skills where Americans are serviced in Kuwait. As for those struggling visa applicants, these hurdles are just preparing them for what they have to go through at TSA if and when they ever reach the US.

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 11:12 - The visa you are referring to is a Kuwait residency visa (not a simple tourist visa).

Residency to either country (US or Kuwait) is a whole 'nother issue. Residency to the United States is no walk in the park, either.... Just talk to those people in Arizona...

Desert Girl said...

Are you a prostitute?
Yes.
Are you a terrorist prostitute?
Yes.
Are you a terrorist prostitute with no income?
Yes.
Do you know any other terrorist prostitutes with no income?
Yes.

Anonymous said...

@ DG 12:30 PM, those questions are outrageous, and I highly suspect that these questions are not asked the Emiritis in the UAE, if they are, then I am suprised the Emiratis have not raised a red flag on the unacceptablity of these questions because I have not read any complaints on this in the UAE. They are disrespectful and unacceptable questions.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but no sympathies here. I have experienced much WORSE as an (African-)American here in Kuwait!

Anonymous said...

As an individual, i could go to any US embassy worldwide and apply for a visa to visit the US. I dont need a sponsor or a babysitter... Could i visit Kuwait just on my merits?