I am inviting a friend with a “bad visa” to spend a vacation with my family over the summer. We’ve got a road trip to national parks as well as a family reunion with full on Boston lobster boating as options for a great trip. It’s a big to do and a pretty quintessential American summer vacation. After the pandemic those kind of tourist dollars are clearly much needed.
However the American government doesn’t seem as keen as I am to show off the majesty of our nation. It’s really hard to get a tourist visa granted if you are not from a desirable nation like Sweden or the United Kingdom. Basically as the American if you invite someone who requires a tourist visa it involves something called a Form I-134. And it is extremely noisy. The goal of the form is to show the Feds your guest won’t become a ward of the state.
They want to know the balance of all my savings and checking accounts, the value of my personal property, my annual income, a list of stocks and bonds, my life insurance policy and it’s cash surrender policy, and any mortgage or real estate. The immigration lawyer said they look for about 10K in assets as a safety net in case something happens so maybe this is easier for people with normal jobs and salaries. I haven’t taken a salary in quite sometime.
But no joke they make you swear on perjury you have these assets and put in a number of scary paragraphs about how the Feds will garnish your wages if your guest applies for any kind of benefit program like food stamps or Medicare. I find it a little comical as it’s practically impossible to qualify for anything but sure guys let’s scare people into reconsidering inviting tourists to spend money here.
It all has the effect of being a bit humiliating. I’m ashamed I can’t figure out the paperwork without hep. The federal bureaucracy has easily felled better minds than mine but also shit I’m pretty smart. How does an average person manage? I feel ashamed that American is so unwelcoming. I’m ashamed my friend is being treated like some kind of potential mooching criminal.
If America is to even pretend it’s making an effort at being a shining city on a hill, we should start by being more welcoming. Treating guests as welcome seems like a good first step.