In Which I Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming to Talk about Immigration Policy
There are several absurd aspects to the way the State Department and the Consulate process these applications:
- Processing takes a highly variable amount of time. If it always took a month it wouldn’t be nearly as bad, but since it sometimes takes several months, it wrecks your ability to schedule things.
- The consulate is highly understaffed. A decision to reject an applicant or stick them in limbo is made based on a 1-2 minute interview.
- I’ve already been in the country for 6.5 years. Besides, my leaving the country was entirely voluntary, and I’m not required to renew my visa unless I do choose to leave voluntarily. One would think that if I were up to something I would have done it by now, or at least not have left.
- There is no way to get this time-consuming background check done while I’m still in the country.
- All of this would be justifiable in some way if the system at least worked. But the determination of whether an applicant working on something sensitive is entirely dependent on what they put on their application; worse, it’s based on keyword matching. It is often possible to reword your application to avoid these keywords if you know how; I wasn’t smart enough to do so.
Immigrants are not the only ones harmed by the muddleheaded visa policy and the fickle behavior of the visa overlords—all Americans are. The H-1B lottery, processing delays and other visa problems contribute to turning skilled workers and scientists back home, which hurts the economy. In fact the US spends taxpayer money to educate Ph.D’s and then encourages or forces them to leave.
As with many problems of Government, a major factor here seems to be that there is a vast and bloated immigration apparatus mired in rules and with no central oversight. Are there things an ordinary person can do to help improve the situation? I’d welcome any thoughts on the issue.