In an effort to clampdown on gang culture in America, US immigration authorities are reportedly rejecting or delaying US visa applications if applicants have tattoos...read more.
The American State Department has confirmed that over one million US visa applications from China have been processed so far in the current fiscal year, a 43% increase on last year...read more.
Republican Congressman Steve King says he is ready to move forward with his lawsuit against Barack Obama over the president's US immigration directive...read more.
No US visa for tattooed applicants
Tattoos staff suspect could
have gang links are putting
US visa applications at risk.
In an effort to clampdown on gang culture in America, US immigration authorities are reportedly rejecting or delaying US visa applications if applicants have tattoos.
The Wall Street Journal has reported the case of Hector Villalobos, a Colorado-based Mexican, who travelled to his native country to apply through the proper channels for a permanent US visa.
However, his application was denied on the basis he has tattoos, some associated with Mexican gangs, and as a result, Mr Villalobos has been stuck in Mexico for seven months, away from his American wife and children.
"He likes tattoos, just like many Americans like tattoos," said Mr Villalobos' American wife, Veronica, adding that he had gotten his tattoos because he 'thought they were cool'.
Tattoos are often used by criminals to signify their affiliation to a particular gang or sub culture and US immigration advisers have reported increased rates of rejections for green card, visa and permanent residency applications in recent years because of tattoos. Just two people were rejected on such grounds in 2006; this had increased to 82 last year.
A US State Department spokesperson said the presence of a tattoo wouldn't be sufficient evidence to deny an application but any that had known connotations to gang culture could be subject to further investigation; Mr Villalobos' tattoo which reads 'smile now, cry later' has been associated with gangs in the past.
"If you are sporting a gang tattoo, it is reasonable for a consular officer to investigate if you have gang affiliations," said a spokesperson for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates tougher US immigration measures.
However, Denver based immigration lawyer Jeff Joseph says the measures are hyper vigilant and even encroach on a person's individual rights to free speech.
"They cast too wide a net and border dangerously on violating first amendment freedom of speech and expression."
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US visa application rate soars in China
America's efforts to appeal
to Chinese tourists are
beginning to be felt.
The American State Department has confirmed that over one million US visa applications from China have been processed so far in the current fiscal year, a 43% increase on last year.
America has been trying to increase tourism revenue nationwide recently after reports emerged that showed almost no growth in the country's tourism industry over the last decade, despite an almost worldwide increase.
The US remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world but difficulties in applying for a US visa were shown to be one of the main obstructions in tourists, particularly from Brazil and China, visiting the country.
In January, President Barack Obama gave his State Department 60 days to investigate ways of decreasing extensive waiting periods which included adding more consular staff with foreign language skills and removing the necessity for interviews for repeat visitors.
The measures were topped off in June when Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Janice Jacobs reopened an annex at the US embassy in Beijing to vastly increase interview capacity for Chinese visa applicants and the changes are now being shown to work.
"We are implementing permanent solutions to keep us ahead of the growing visa demand for years to come," read a State Department statement which was released with the improved figures.
Chinese tourists have consistently been shown to spend the most of any nationality while on holiday and both the UK and Australia have highlighted the need to make it easy for Chinese tourists to visit the country but the US has been the first to act.
"The accomplishments announced today reflect the Obama Administration's commitment towards increasing US jobs by encouraging more people to visit our country," concluded the statement.
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Republicans ready to sue president over US immigration law
Representative Steve King
says his suit will be ready in
Republican Congressman Steve King says he is ready to move forward with his lawsuit against Barack Obama over the president's US immigration directive.
President Obama issued an executive order back in June which put a stop to the deportation of all illegal immigrants under the age of 30 who were brought to the country by their parents if they had graduated high school or served in the military and have no criminal record.
The move, which is thought to directly affect as many as 1.4 million people, was hailed by US immigration advocates but has met fierce opposition among critics, many of whom are Republicans
Iowa Representative Steve King has claimed the move, which bypassed both Houses of Congress, surpassed the president's authority and is taking moves to prevent its implementation. Mr King said his team was now just weeks away to filing the suit.
"If the case is heard on the merits, we're in an excellent position to succeed," said Representative King, adding that there are at least four legal arguments which could prevent the president's directive from being enforced.
"There is an effort that might simply invalidate his executive edit and there's also a federal statute that requires [immigration law enforcement] to place illegals into deportation proceedings.
"Another component of it is the violation of the administrative procedures that the president appears to have ordered [law enforcement officials] to engage in."
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- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the American Visa Bureau.
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