Visa application fees questioned
A 74-year-old woman from Falefa has expressed her disappointment with the US Embassy’s visa section in Apia.
According to Malia Kalala Laufasa, she believes that it is unfair to pay $430 tala for a US visa application, only for the application to be unsuccessful.
“I had an interview on February the seventh this year with the US immigration, they asked me four questions and after that I was told that my application was denied.
“To me, it felt like it cost $100 a question – the reason why I was declined was because they thought that if I go to the US, I was going to stay there for good – but that is not the case for me.
“I wanted to see my children and they will look after me, but then I will come back to Samoa, and I also have a green card which has expired and I wanted to renew it when I get back to the US,” Mrs. Laufasa said.
She also stated that she did not mind being turned down, but it was unfair paying a large amount of money only for their application to be turned down.
“It is also unfair for some Samoan families who cannot afford these prices, not everyone has the same situation in affording to pay this amount.
“I feel sorry for people that do not have the financial support but still pay this amount because of reasons like family emergencies.
“I think that at least if they decline, people should get a refund of any amount which would be nice,” she added.
According to the US Embassy, section 222(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits them from discussing individual visa cases.
“Every applicant for a nonimmigrant visa worldwide must pay a $160 USD application fee - it covers the cost of processing the application.
“It is non-refundable regardless of whether an applicant is issued a visa or not, since the application was processed to conclusion.
“As one example, if an application was refused under Section 214(b) and an applicant chose to reapply for a visa, whether applying at the same embassy or elsewhere, they will be required to pay the visa application processing fee,” said the embassy.
The Embassy also stated that they cannot speculate on whether someone may or may not be eligible for a visa, nor on any possible limitations.
“It is because when an individual applies for a U.S. visa, a consular officer reviews the facts of the case and determines whether the applicant is eligible, for a U.S. visa based on U.S. laws.
“Applications are refused if an applicant is found ineligible under the Immigration and Nationality Act or other provisions of U.S. law.”