It is an open secret in Ukraine that US travel visas can be obtained on the street “for a price” (approximately $750). Obviously, the visas have to come from somewhere–where exactly?
A developing story out of Darrell Issa’s district in Orange County, California, may expose the US Embassy in Kiev as the source of this corruption.
A grandmother living in Ukraine applied for a visa to visit her US citizen granddaughter living in Orange County, and a decision was made to grant the visa, but at a later interview the visa was denied. The only stated ground for denial was failure to demonstrate sufficient ties to Ukraine–nothing about fraud, etc. However, the grandmother actually gave up her green card, while applying for this visa, due to strong ties in Ukraine. Having had resident alien status, and then having given it up, she could not rationally be considered to lack sufficient ties to Ukraine. She obtained resident alien status in order to take care of her granddaughter in the US, but her husband, the grandfather, employed in Ukraine, refuses to live in the US, and they have another daughter in Ukraine who is seriously ill and needs their care, as well as several properties and extended family.
Moreover, the grandmother’s passport was returned to her without being stamped “visa denied” as is typically done according to correct procedures. The omission of that stamp prevents the family in Orange County from getting a refund on the grandmother’s expensive plane tickets. Why was the stamp omitted? One may surmise that such a stamp, followed by issuance, would be an unnecessary red flag directing unwanted attention to an illegal bribe operation, of the type commonly found in Ukraine, and inability to refund plane tickets would be an added incentive for payment of the bribe. Of course, there was never an overt solicitation of a bribe, but if illicit visas are commonly “available on the street,” where does most of that money end up? The solicitation need not be overt.
The child and grandmother are extremely close and this situation is heartbreaking for the family involved.
Help was sought from Senator Feinstein, generally considered to be a champion of immigrants and just about any sort of alien, but the response from the Senator was disappointing. The Senator would not even contact the embassy, and said she could not help at all as the matter was “discretionary.”
Discretionary? Yes, but the stated ground does not fit at all with the facts and the decision therefore appears arbitrary.
The situation bears looking into, but the Senator will not bother. Why?
This story is developing…