|Piper Campbell, US Ambassador to Mongolia|
To be sure, let me first introduce some facts I found online before I start with mine. Unfortunately, the materials found are published or posted online in Mongolian , and so it would be difficult for those who does not master Mongolian language to read them. But I will do my best to translate and give you a summary kind of thing, so to speak.
Jamiyan Galsan, a senior journalist who is famous for his essays and writings, applied for a tourist visa to meet with a Mongolian physician who lives in the States. Jamiyan wanted to write about this doctor's life which was very adventurous and unique. They met once before in Mongolia. The doctor who invited him sent all the necessary documents and Mr.Jamiyan on his part prepared everything as required, including the proof that he was employed and had a family and all that. But his request was turned down because they thought that he has no "strong ties" to his homeland and might not come back. Why would a 70- year-old man leave his wife , children and home and decide to become an illegal "Alien?" What he would do? Are you serious?
- "No", wrote the journalist, saying that it is just the way how they "make money." He heard that only 6 were granted a visa from 40 applicants in one day. The visa application fee was 100 dollars back in 2007 (today it is $160) when that poor man was denied a visa, and he says that the US Embassy "made" $4000 in one day. "What a business!", he was trilled.
His article can be read HERE. Furthermore he points out that there is a Mongolian "mafia" , very well organized and run by those Mongols who work within the Embassy and the Consular section. These Mongols, hired by the Americans, are part of the chain which use the visa matter as their income source. Anyone who has the intention to stay illegally in the US after their visa expires, would look for any ways to get a visa. They would approach those who promise a 100%-safe help to get a visa in exchange for a certain sum of the "green backs." Some years ago it was $5000, now much higher.
It is very simple: You meet those people and make a verbal agreement. They would prepare all the documents for you , fill out your application, let you pay the fee and make an interview appointment for you. They would "prepare" you for the interview, like what to say and how to behave during the interview. Then you go to the interview and, if lucky, you will be told to come back later that day to get your passport with the visa. You run out of the Embassy building, excited, to come back later on, but you will not get handed your passport to you. An Embassy employee (of course a Mongol) who would hand out the ready passports to their owners, will not have yours. Your passport would be already in safe hands of the people who wait for you to give your passport in exchange for that 5 grand you promised to pay. You pay your money and get your passport back. Everybody is happy. Besides, I know personally a person who got his visa exactly the way I described above. True, it happened some years ago, but who says everything has changed for good since then?
I hope that the American officials working at the Embassy and/or in the Consular section are not involved in any such unlawful activities, but again, nobody knows for sure. It was the case involved the Mongols employed back then. They might be still working at the Embassy and keep doing their "business." We might have a "Vietnamese style" operation going on in there. Who knows. We have every right to suspect, especially if the Mongolian natives employed have been giving any reason to smell a foul play. Let's hope not. What is a "Vietnamese style" operation? A visa chief in the consular section of the US Consulate in Vietnam, named Michael Sestak (worked 2010-2012) took bribes to approve visas to Vietnamese citizens. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy, bribery and money laundering charges, and admitted accepting more than 3 million dollars in bribes. Of course, he couldn't do it without a help from the natives, so some Vietnamese citizens and American citizens of Vietnamese origin are involved in this scheme.
A blogger named Batkhuu O. also mentioned in his article about how strict or harsh those consular officers handle the visa applicants, saying that 2-3 people get their visa issued while the rest of the in average 50 people a day go home "empty-handed." The percentage of those who get a visa denied is very high.
6 out of 40 or 3 out of 50 means 85% or 94% denial, as mentioned in the examples above.
If you believe the words said in one interview a year ago by the General Consul Robert Pope and Marissa Maurer who is the head of the Public Affairs section, given to a Mongolian newspaper, the percentage of visa denial dropped down from 70% to 50%. As they claim, now every second applicant gets a visa issued. Wow! (Read here )
The Honorable Ambassador Campbell said that she wanted to see more Mongolian youth go to study in the US. (This Embassy stuff is headed by Ambassador Piper Campbell who was sworn in on August 6, 2012. ) But it seems that the visa officers in the Consular section are having the opposite standpoint to what the Ambassador means. I am talking about the consular officers' harsh approach (even rude attitude) towards the applicants who have been already studying in the US. I want to point out here 2 cases which caught my attention. These are true stories about which I learned through my acquaintances. One young man has been denied a visa he needed to return to his school in the US. True, he has been studying some years but hasn't been chosen yet his major or the subject he wants to pursue. So he was still searching and while doing so he attended his classes collecting the credits he would use later on. General education. He came back home to extend his visa. The other one has been also some years but he found what he liked and pursued it for the last 3 years. Unfortunately he was negligent and skipped classes few times after an unfortunate incident and because of that he lost his status. He came back to Mongolia to apply for a visa so that he can continue his study. Both were denied a visa. True, for both it took some time to choose what they wanted to major in. True, a mistake was made by one of them but he wanted make it good and finish what he started. Why they were denied a visa? The reason was ridiculous: Both had no progress in their studying!
Younger people are immature in that age and tend to be very unstable and thoughtless. And they make mistakes. But one should give them a second chance and support them instead of "slapping in their faces" and turn them down. Especially, if they wanted to correct their errors and proceed with their goals. One should not penalize them for the errors they made. Besides, since when it became a policy that students have limited time to finish the study? What if they wanted to study further? Would a certain time limit apply to them to restrict their presence in the States even if they want to continue to achieve higher degrees? Are the visa officers instructed to look down at the students who study in community colleges and treat them disrespectful? Hopefully not, but they both experienced a rude attitude on the part of those who interviewed them. Yes, they have both a desire to get a decent education and go on with their lives after graduation. They knew that what they need is an education. Those boys had no intention to become "illegal Aliens" and to start working illegally to be paid "under the table." They could have stayed in the US and become illegal if they thought so, but, no, they returned home to Mongolia and applied for their visa. They wanted "play by the rule" but unfortunately they were given the cold shoulder. Now these boys are left with nothing, one half way through, the other one almost completed his study, but both very disappointed and emotionally crushed. Not to mention all the efforts they spent and expenses invested by either their sponsors and/or parents and relatives. One can't just ruin somebody's carrier, or even life because of some minor mistakes. They were not somebody who wanted to travel to the US. They were students whose lives will depend on what they would achieve by accomplishing their study. Everybody deserves a second chance, even criminals in prison get a chance. And the youngsters should not be turned down and pushed away.
At last some words addressed to the Ambassador and her stuff working under her supervision:
Hopefully what the Ambassador states matches with what her stuff proves in action. Hopefully your people learn to show some respect to whoever stands in front of the window answering their questions. We don't need and don't welcome those who does not even greet when one approaches the window to be interviewed. We don't like also those Mongols, employed by you, exercising various duties, including translation between the applicant and the visa officer, the way they behave. They should learn to be polite and show some smile and helpful instead of showing some face if there was put some "shit" on it, as we say.
People talk a lot, dear Ambassador, and rumors got it. With your goal to support more young people to study in the US and give the right ones the permission to travel and keep the wrong ones away, I urge you to support those who make mistakes and give them the chance to make it good. It is a "life or death" decision for them and you guys have the power to lead the right way. Later on in their life, they would remember it and always appreciate for your right lead and your wise decision.
With all due respect, I would urge you to look into this matter and do what it needs to be done. Because of some irresponsible people, Americans and Mongols alike, the reputation and all your good work done for our people should not be harmed. Lastly I want to mention that with this I didn't have any ill intention and meant only to catch your attention.