The phone calls keep coming in to our office. From Australia, South Africa, India, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Russia, Lebanon, all from US visa holders who have had their visas revoked without explanation. It appears that the US government has intensified its visa revocation campaign, particularly against Muslims.
The problems encountered by Muslims in dealing with US immigration authorities was the topic of a recently published ACLU report about the discriminatory USCIS Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (“CARRP”). The report highlights how USCIS misidentifies national security concerns; encourages FBI interference and harassment; mandates pretextual denials; and deprives due process of green-card holding applicants, primarily Muslim, during the naturalization process. These thousands are left in legal limbo for years.
If there is one glimmer of hope, it is that these applicants at least are able to wage their battles while in the US, where lawyers, courts, and public opinion can at least attempt to reign in an out-of-control immigration and law enforcement bureaucracy. What about the tens of thousands of visa applicants outside the US who are unable to receive new visas after their visas were revoked because, as many claim, they are “AWM” – Applying While Muslim? Or worse, what about the 55,000 visa applicants from around the world of various ethnicities and religions who have had their visas revoked since 9/11 on grounds unrelated to security?
Many of these applicants who have had their visas revoked have opened and developed successful businesses in the United States; spent years and tens of thousands of dollars pursuing an academic degree; obtained medical treatment in the US; or have close family members in the US. But when they are back in their home countries, attempt to board a flight to the US, or attempt to enter the US at a port of entry, they are informed that their visas have been revoked – without disclosure of a reason. As a result, they are cut off from their businesses; unable to finish their educations; severed from their medical treatment; or isolated from their families because the Department of State revoked their visas. In contrast to individuals located in the US, where there are, at least in theory, mechanisms in place to check unbridled arbitrary action, individuals located outside the US, in general, do not have resort to an administrative appeals process or judicial redress.
Just how widespread are these cases? During the summer, there were reports that the US Embassy in Lebanon revoked up to 3,000 visas of Lebanese citizens. Consular officials routinely act on “poison pen” letters – from disgruntled ex-spouses, business partners, landlords, and employees – by revoking visas without checking the veracity of the claims contained therein. Visas are revoked not just for legal reasons (real or imagined): as reported in the Economist, an internal Department of State cable published on Wikileaks shed light on how the DOS uses the prestige of a visa – and its threatened or actual revocation – as leverage to achieve political aims.
We recently wrote about the disconnect between the promises of Obama Administration officials in seeking to attract talented immigrants and the real world decisions adversely impacting US business. The PR machine of the State Department continues to churn, boasting of its efforts to facilitate travel to the United States; yet it is unswervingly silent in addressing the cases of thousands of Muslims and others the world over who have had their visas revoked or denied for no reason whatsoever.
If you have had your visa revoked, please contact us. Passively accepting a State Department decision to revoke a visa – and relinquishing your ability to ever visit, work in, or immigrate to the United States – is not an option.