Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Visa process - cont'd

When Siham returned to the visa section at the Canadian Embassy, the woman who'd first interviewed her, thanks to a biase-avoiding rule, wasn't allowed to interview her a second time.

This could have meant two things. Either the second interviewer wouldn't want to step on his colleagues toes and make a different decision, or he would realise his colleague was incompetent and do what should have been done in the first place.

The interviewer was an older man, seemingly with seniority, and treated Siham with kindness and respect the moment the interview started. She described him as almost apologetic when he asked her personal questions, as opposed to aggressive accusatory like the previous interviewer. He read the cover letter I provided, and by the time the interview was over, he was angry.
"You should never have been rejected in the first place," he told Siham. "I'm putting your name on the computer so any time you come back for a visa, it's guaranteed."
He was also upset because he wanted to meet me. Yet he wasn't aware there was a rule which forbid husbands from entering the building, especially if it could help prove a potential case.

That's all there was from our end. I like to think the woman who'd treated Siham so badly was reprimanded.

In fact, several months later, I met an employee from the embassy who said that the immigration woman in question was no longer working there. He hinted that she'd left on bad terms, but didn't elaborate, or didn't know, I'm not sure which.

It gives me a sense of satisfaction believing that our case helped expose her. It was all written down in the cover letter that I worked hard to write subjectively, but designed to be proof that should be passed onto a superior. Proof that the woman had rejected Siham, whose exact same credentials had gotten her three visitors visas to Europe and a ten year multiple entry visa to America, yet her being married to a Canadian, something we once thought would guarantee her a visa, was in fact the woman's grounds for rejection.

I have no doubt, immigration officers have a tough job. It's a daily requirement for them to take people's money and tell them, "No, we don't want you in our country." And I agree with what they have to do, I don't want just anybody getting into Canada, I want the highly educated and the wealthy.
I know it might sound bad, or cruel, but inviting poor, lower income class people only puts them in a situation where they become angry. These same people dream about the West being a gold mine where they will become rich. But it doesn't happen that way for 99% of poor immigrants. They end up alienated and often turn to crime, or worse, are easy targets for fudamentalists who blame their failures on racism and encourage violence, or terrorism as retribution.

But there are also boundaries. By law spouses should be allowed to visit Canada. I also have an issue with the cost of spousal visas: more than one-thousand dollars for Siham to apply for residence. And probably another chunk when she wants to become a citizen. This causes unnecessary hardship on young married couples, most of which are already in an tight situation trying to save up for the expensive move across the sea and start a new life.

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