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Living La US Visa Loca


LAST WEEK I was with a friend whose application for a US tourist via was denied for the nth time. She was actually more surprised than saddened by this result in her latest attempt to fly to the fabled land of milk and honey. 

Even prior to the pandemic, she was all over Asia and visited her relatives in Canada two times and even attended her niece’s wedding in Australia. On top of these frequent foreign trips, her business has remained lucrative over the years, even surviving the pandemic. In a nutshell, she is the type of person who can really afford to travel the world. But for one reason or another her childhood dream to see the United States of America has remained elusive.

Whether it is a simple case of the stars not aligning in her favor, or the consular officer not fully convinced of her reasons for applying a US visa, I could only guess about my good friend’s fate. Most of the time, the unexpected becomes the expected and the expected becomes the unexpected. People whom we consider to be shoo-ins for a US visa because of their wealth, education, and travel history are usually among the first to be denied of having one.   

This leads me to share the story of another friend’s mother who was in her late 50’s when her daughter, who was about to give birth to her eldest child, asked her to apply for a US tourist visa. Her only reason for flying to the US was to look after her daughter and her first grandchild during that particular period in the first-time mother’s life. 

She went through the usual process, presented her documents and told the consular officer her reason in applying for a tourist visa. At one point during the interview, she was asked what her source of income was. To this, she proudly replied in her broken English, “Oh, my business? Me and my family, we are selling God!”

This must have floored the consular officer prompting him to ask a follow-up question: “So, you must be rich. What kind of god do you sell?”

Sensing that my town mate has cornered the consular officer in her field of expertise, she calmly said, “We are rich, but not very very. We sell many kinds of gods. We sell Sto. Nino god, Apung Nazareno god, Cristong Ari god, Apung Manaoag and all kinds of Mama Mary, we sell them all. We also sell angels in many size, color and style!”

The consular officer knew, based on the documents presented, that my town mate was referring to the family’s chain of stores selling religious images and other items. He knew that the person in front of him was telling the truth and had no other reasons for going to the US than to be with her daughter and her grandchild. But he must have enjoyed the tête-à-tête fully that he opted to ask a final question: “What else do you sell aside from these many gods?” 

To this, my town mate simply replied, “We also sell the body and blood of Christ!”

In case you missed what she meant by those, she was actually referring to the Mass wine and the pack of unconsecrated hosts which are staple offertory items during the Mass.  

But you guess it right! The consular officer must have enjoyed his encounter with this street-smart lady from Macabebe so much so that he gave her a ten-year multiple US visa. 

As for the many whose application is denied for a variety of reasons known only to the consular officers manning those dreaded windows at the US embassy, rejection is not a closure but most likely, a redirection. The USA is not the be-all and end-all of your dreams. Similar or even better opportunities await you in other countries, or even right here in the Philippines. There are no dream jobs or dream lives waiting for all of us somewhere. We live our own dream jobs, we craft our own dream lives. It is high time we realize that there are things that are not simply meant to be. The United States is just one of the many countries in the world to visit and enjoy. If it is not ready to welcome and appreciate you, better set your sight on another destination. 


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