OK, so I (JM) promise that this will be the last post involving educational visas. I can’t help thinking every single day as these students come in trying to figure out how to fill out all the forms, find nonexistant immunization records, and figure out how to get their bank to translate their funds into dollars that I’m so lucky to be American.
A girl came in today and she told me that she had overstayed a tourist visa in the US about 7 years ago. There’s a place on the visa form where you are supposed to state if you have ever violated the terms of a US visa before, and she wanted to know if she had to report herself. This brought up an interesting tidbit of information from my co-worker. You have to state on the form if you have ever visited the US on a visa before. If you have, you have to show them the old visa in your passport. That means if it was issued in an expired passport you have to dig that passport out of the back of the closet and pray that the little flimsy piece of paper that is a visa is still attached. If you cannot produce this old visa, you will never get a visa to visit the States again. Period. Well unless you try getting a police report that says your old passport was stolen. If a visa is missing, they assume it has been removed and sold on the black market (yes there is a black market for visas). But they never tell people this when they give them their visas, so people can really run into difficulties if they lose track of old documents. Last year, some KL VIP’s wife and daughter were flatly denied new visas because their old ones had fallen out of their passports and were missing. They came to our office, where the son’s visa fell out of his passport while someone was handling it. Only with some serious intervention were they able to get new visas. Oh, and when they went back to the Embassy, someone said "yeah, we had a whole batch in ’95 or something when the glue didn’t take." So if you know any foreigners who have been in US, left, and plan to come back, tell them to keep track of their old visas.
The other interesting thing was that I had a family come in where the girl wanted to go to public high school in the states. You can do this on a foreign passport, but you are only allowed to come for one year. And before you get a visa, you have to show that you have fully paid the school for their average cost of educating a student for a year. This can be up to $10,000. I’d say you might as well go to a private high school, but $10,000 is cheap compared to what they charge these days.