Visa Rules Widen The Rift Between Vietnam And U.S. Families


Just read this piece from Chao-Vietnam:

Getting that ever elusive visa to the US, regardless of visa type, can be daunting at best.  I have seen friends, students, and clients get turned down by the US Consulate, some repeatedly.  Looking at the forms given to them by the US Consulate, most were not given a visa since they were unable to prove they would return to Vietnam.  Others were turned down because there was a concern they could not provide the necessary financial means to stay in the US, ie tuition and book fees.  A couple girls were turned down because their English skills were very low (When a Vice Council asked the girl how many wheels a car had, she replied, “I am fine, thank you”).

Many of the above DID want to stay in the US.  I meet student after student, who did obtain visas, whose sole intention was to stay in the US.  That is why their parents paid high tuition fees to send them to the university I worked for in the past.  They got their visas are in the US now.  Not a single student from this program has returned to Vietnam yet.

It is sad but it seems that those who come from well-to-do families have no problems obtaining visas to the US.  I see it with my students all the time.  To this date, I only know two students who were rejected but it was based on a technicality.  They will get their visas in the future.

The ones who were rejected seemed to come from lower middle class families or are nouvo wealth meaning their incomes cannot be traced (nouvo wealth have a tendency to hide their wealth for tax reasons).

For the two Vietnamese family members from the story, they should be allowed to visit their ailing relative.  If they had come from wealthier families, there is a chance they would have received their visas.  If anyone wants to argue this, just have the Department of Homeland Security check the social economic background of all Vietnamese entering the US (and other countries as well).

The policy of granting US visas in Vietnam, and around the World, is not fair.  Thus, at times, there needs to be exceptions made especially now when many of the overseas Vietnamese are starting to age rapidly.

These are just my opinions coming from an American who has lived overseas for nearly 8 years (out of 37) of his life.

Read the full article here ->


  1. You also have to consider that rich VNese people have more reason to return, whether it is their business or their bank account. You say none of the people you know who received a visa have returned… so maybe it’s too easy to get a visa?

  2. Getting a visa is like getting a loan: When you don’t need it (rich) they will give it to you happily. When you really do need it (poor, need a loan or need a chance to move to the US and start a new life) they won’t give it to you.

    We have been quite lucky in that Trang got her visa easily. Her mom got her visa the first time a year and a half ago. Just two days ago her mom and her brother were both approved for 1 year multi-entry visas. So her mom will come visit us for a second time and her brother for the first time in a month and a half. For both of her mom’s visas they never looked at any of her financial paperwork. It seems they look at the person who is sponsoring the visa more. Perhaps it helps if a natural born American citizen is sponsoring instead of a viet kieu, I don’t know.

    But now that she has been here once and went back and her brother will soon come and return they will be able to come and go as they wish having established trust. And I will make sure they do not betray that trust or it will make it more difficult to bring any other relatives over for a temporary visit. It seems to be like getting credit: If you get a small loan at first and then pay it off on time you will more easily get a bigger loan on better terms the next time. Soon our family will have a very good “credit” rating with the US government.

    Just having money isn’t all there is to it. Money can be transferred, moved, etc. You can smuggle money on your person or in gold etc. fairly easily it seems. It seems that people have even walked away from homes or businesses or more likely left them in the semi-permanent care of relatives while they came to the US and overstayed their visas so that doesn’t buy you much either.

    If they started making exceptions for cases where an elder in the US was on their death bed suddenly everyone would show up at the consulate with an alleged infirm elder in the US.

    The people at the consulate who have to make these decisions are really in a no-win situation. And I don’t blame them for not being more specific about why they deny any one particular case. If they released all of their exact criteria people would more easily game the system and fill in all of the required check-boxes to get their visas.

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