Process to get a Tourist Visa to the USA is Unfair

I lived in Jordan for a total of 6 months. The most recent time I lived there I stayed for 4 months with a Muslim family in Irbid. This is what I did to get my visa: I walked off the plane, got my luggage, walked to a desk, showed them my passport, possibly paid them some money but no more than $30 and I don't remember if it even cost me at all, then they stamped my passport and waived me through.

That is it.

My best Jordanian friend, Sanaa, called me yesterday to wish me Happy Birthday...and to ask about getting a visa to come to the United States.

It's not like I haven't had Jordanian friends come to me asking about visas before; but this is different. She's the one who enabled me to learn Arabic. She's the one who spent hours and hours with me, who convinced her family to let me stay with them. She's a Muslim version of me. She is awesome. I really, really love her.

She's getting married in a few months and she wanted to know about what she and her husband will need to do to get a visa to either come to the states as tourists, or to study here, or to work. And probably she would also want to know the details of how to immigrate.

Last night, I looked up the specifics on how to come as a tourist. What I discovered absolutely fascinated me. I always knew it was unfair, as in, I can just flash my American passport and go basically anywhere, while it's nearly impossible for her to enter the neighbouring country of Israel. It's so weird that she lives 30 minutes away from the border but to cross would basically never happen unless there were extreme circumstances.

To get a visa to the USA would be difficult, but not quite as impossible as a visa to Israel (I assume). Basically, a tourist visa requires that the applicant prove they have a reason for coming, and a compelling reason for returning home. The assumption is that all applicants for American visas are potential immigrants. Fair assumption, America is a great place to immigrate.

Here's the process:
This is a general website about getting a visa to come to the USA:

There are 4 different kinds of visas:
1. travel/tourism
2. study
3. work
4. immigration

In order to visit the USA for travel/tourism purposes, 90 days before you leave you need to do these things:
(I found this information at this website: http://jordan.usembassy.gov/niv_how_to_apply_for_a_visa.html)
1. Read the frequently asked questions website

2. Fill out the nonimmigrant visa application available at this website:

3. Print the DS-160 confirmation page and bring it to your interview. (you will need a photo of yourself. Here are the requirements: http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/frvi_3877.html)

4. Schedule an appointment for an interview at the American Embassy in Jordan. You can do this here:

5. Pay the fee of JOD 99.4 JD ($140) before your interview at a participating branch of the Cairo-Amman Bank. It is non-refundable (you have to pay it even if you don't get the visa)


Arrive at the Embassy before 09:00 a.m. on your appointment day and bring the following documents:

  • The DS-160 confirmation page.
  • If your photo did not upload to the DS-160, bring one passport photo that meets these photo requirements.
  • Your passport, valid for at least six (6) months after your departure date.
  • All prior passports.
  • The Machine Readable Visa (MRV) receipt from Cairo Amman Bank.
  • All other documentary evidence that demonstrate your ties to an overseas residence (employment letter, bank documents, letters of invitation, property deeds).
  • If you are the spouse of an applicant, please bring your original marriage certificate.
I understand the purpose behind the strictness, especially for issuing tourism visas. Our government has a solemn responsibility to ensure the safety of American citizens. Maybe all of the red tape is even necessary. But that still doesn't make it fair.

(There are some countries, mostly Western European, that do not require advanced application for a passport. Like, if you're from France, you can just get your visa at the border. But Jordan is not one of these countries.)

Now I'm interested in learning what it would take to immigrate from Jordan. Talking about this with Danny, his take was that no wonder there are so many illegal immigrants.

Won't it be great when there is a perfect government across all the countries on the earth and we don't have to worry about making sure people return to their home countries after their visit is done?

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