Getting U.S. Visas Gets Tougher

Getting a visa to the U.S. may depend on an applicant’s good or bad timing, Dziennik newspaper recently announced.

“I advise you to come on Friday.”

“Before the weekend the Americans are in a good mood.”

“It is better to come when the weather is fine…and you should be nicely dressed.”

These are some examples of advice given by workers at American diplomatic offices to Poles seeking visas for the U.S. Although Poland is an ally of the U.S. in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is considering hosting a part of a U.S. missile defense shield, the U.S. government does not grant Polish citizens free entrance to America.

Recently, the U.S. dropped visa requirements for Estonians and Czechs. But, Poland still does not meet the formal conditions for eligibility in the visa-waiver program. Too many Poles breach American immigration regulations by staying in the U.S. after their visas expire. “Poles are still not coming back from the U.S. on time, and we’re all paying for this,” said Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

The visa application process includes an interview with a consul in a U.S. consulate or embassy. While these interviews may be critical to the visa rulings, guidelines for the consuls’ decisions are lacking. Polish politicians are trying to get visa rules clarified. Last year about 26 percent of the Poles seeking U.S. visas were unsuccessful. It is hoped that if the rules are clarified, within six to seven years the percentage of visa denials will drop to about 10 percent. And then, perhaps, if Poles do a better job of heeding visa expiration deadlines, the U.S. will drop the visa requirement entirely.

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