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Families, brides and green card lottery winners: whom in Kyrgyzstan were affected by the ban on entry into the USA

In January, Kyrgyzstan entered the number of countries whose citizens are restricted from entering the US. It became the first country of the former USSR to be included in the list of predominantly Muslim states whose passport holders will find it much more difficult to obtain an American migration visa, recalls Air force.

Фото: Depositphotos

The US ambassador to Kyrgyzstan explained that this decision was dictated by the desire to ensure the safety and well-being of the United States. Washington noted that the ban will not apply to travelers on a work, study or tourist visa.

But the Kyrgyzstanis introduced the measures taken by surprise. The Russian BBC service spoke with those who might suffer from them.

At the building of the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry in Bishkek, there is a group of excited people who are vigorously discussing the ban on immigration to the United States. These are the winners of the 2020 green card lottery. Just yesterday, they considered themselves the biggest lucky ones who pulled out a lucky ticket, and today their winnings are reset.

In desperation, they came to the Foreign Ministry building to turn to the Minister. They did not manage to meet with the employees of the department, so they limited themselves to writing only. Green card winners ask the Foreign Ministry to comply with US requirements so that the ban on immigration is lifted. The decree of Donald trump on the introduction of new restrictions on entry will enter into force only on February 22, and they believe that before that, the Kyrgyz government can change everything.

“Kyrgyzstan got into this list due to its own oversight, because we cooperate with the United States in the fight against terrorism, and for 13 years we had an American air base. We are the most democratic of the CIS countries. Most likely, this is the result of a misunderstanding, ”said Aybek, one of the newspaper's interlocutors.

Aybek hoped to fly away with his wife and two children to the United States in the summer, but now he (may) have to be left alone. His wife has Kazakh citizenship, as well as their children. Aybek does not want because of his passport to deprive them of the opportunity to move to permanent residence in America.

“This is my big American dream. I want my children to grow up in a democratic and developed country, not in Kyrgyzstan, where poverty and corruption are the norm. Even to send a child to school, you need to give bribes. All this leaves very little hope for their bright future here, ”Aibek said.

The US consulate answered the questions of those who won the visa lottery that they could still come for an interview, but most likely, after the ban came into force, the visa would be denied. Exceptions will be made only for some unique specialists.

Passport issue

It is the mismatch of Kyrgyz passports with US security standards that caused the country to be on the list, said US Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Donald Lou. He referred to the data of the General Prosecutor's Office of Kyrgyzstan, according to which in 2015-2017 64 investigations were launched in connection with the illegal issuance of Kyrgyz passports.

“We urge the Kyrgyz government to work out a constructive way to adequately control the issuance of passports, expedite the development of electronic and biometric passports, and provide Interpol with timely information on lost and stolen passports. The United States will continue to work with the Kyrgyz Republic to address procedural deficiencies, ”Lu said.

On the subject: Trump has expanded an immigration ban to one of the post-Soviet countries: what you need to know

It seems that the ban also came as a surprise to the Kyrgyz authorities. The country's Foreign Ministry in its official statement noted that the measures introduced have inflicted “sensitive damage to Kyrgyz-American relations”.

“The American side is well aware that the introduction of biometric passports in the country was planned at an earlier date, but due to objective circumstances it took a long period,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “At the same time, the Kyrgyz side, proceeding solely from goodwill, took the necessary measures to exchange relevant information with the United States within the framework of the legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic.”

Will there be a chain reaction

Some Kyrgyzstanis fear that the ban imposed by the United States will trigger a chain reaction and lead to similar restrictions from other countries.

“What if there is a chain reaction and other countries start to“ worry ”? This is the failure to fulfill the plans of our citizens, especially the young, ”writes Facebook user Kazim Saribayev.

Others were upset that the Kyrgyz were unfairly deprived of the few opportunities for legal immigration.

User Mila Leibovich writes on Facebook: “If the reason was only a problem with identity documents, then why not ban all visas? It is very disappointing that now those who wanted to immigrate legally and legally will have to look for other ways. ”

However, the U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan spoke of the need to expedite the introduction of biometric passports back in 2017. Now, the country's authorities will have a new incentive to do this, experts say.

“There are still many opportunities, channels for negotiations. For this, it is necessary that all state bodies and institutions responsible for the current situation propose a solution that will be comprehensively considered, ”said former Deputy Foreign Minister of Kyrgyzstan Baktygul Kalymbekova.

Residents of Kyrgyzstan who applied for a visa at the US Embassy in Bishkek told the BBC that the requirements for paperwork there are much more stringent than in other countries. The number of denied visas to the United States for Kyrgyz people over the past seven years has grown to 67 percent of all applications. Moreover, back in 2013, 75% of applicants received visas. Among the CIS countries, only citizens of Uzbekistan receive more refusals in non-immigrant visas.

To avoid a rigorous interview in Bishkek, some winners even move to another country.

30-year-old Saadat won the American Visa Lottery and has been waiting for her turn for an interview at the embassy for a year and a half. During this time, she managed to transport the whole family to Moscow, and her husband, a lawyer by profession, got a job as a bartender. Saadat herself decided not to return to work from maternity leave.

“I didn't even give the child to the garden, since we are already sitting on our suitcases. We spent all our savings on preparing documents and moving to Moscow, and now it turns out that all our efforts were in vain, ”Saadat says bitterly.

Winning a green card in the lottery is a rare luck. For example, in 2017, more than 14 million people played it worldwide. And only 50 thousand of them received immigration visas.

Kyrgyzstanis play this lottery much less often than, for example, their neighbors from Uzbekistan. Of the six million people, only 72 thousand citizens took part in the lottery in 2018, and only one and a half thousand received visas. The largest number of applications from all countries in the world in 2017 came from Russian citizens.

Separated by the ban

They study, work, do business, many of them have long considered the United States their home. Now they are going to appeal to their senators and the government of Kyrgyzstan to try to lift the ban.

Samat, 22, moved to Chicago last year; news of a ban on immigration caught him on a winter vacation in Bishkek.

He flew from the USA to Bishkek on New Year's Eve to make an offer to his girlfriend. They are already a year apart. During this time, Samat settled in a new place, found a job and rented an apartment. For Samat and Aigul, the ban means that now their dreams of a joint future are postponed indefinitely. The couple planned to get married in the spring and begin issuing a conjugal visa.

“This ban practically canceled out all our plans for engagement, wedding, honeymoon. We were going to rent a car and drive along the west coast of the Atlantic Ocean on our honeymoon, ”says Samat.

On the subject: Trump has restricted Kyrgyz citizens from entering the US: immigrants make a statement

Even if Aigul can come to the United States, most likely, in the new conditions, she will not be able to get a job: the ban also applies to those Kyrgyz citizens whose employers are willing to pay for a visa.

In addition to them, mixed families, where one of the spouses hails from America and the second from Kyrgyzstan, were also hit. OpenDemocracy.Net journalist Christopher Schwartz also wrote about this on his Facebook page. He has been living in Kyrgyzstan for seven years and is married to a Kyrgyz.

“If I need to return to the US, for example, to take care of my elderly parents or I find a good job there, my spouse will not be able to join me. I don't even know what will happen if we have a baby. Can't I transport him too? " - writes Schwartz.

He very much hopes that Kyrgyzstan will not respond with a similar gesture, since he is now in the country on a conjugal visa.

“US-Kyrgyz relations have been deteriorating since the closure of the US base in Kyrgyzstan,” Chris says. - The climax was the denunciation of the bilateral cooperation agreement in 2015. The ban is a consequence of deteriorating relations with the US. I'm sure the ban is temporary, but it is difficult to predict how long it will last. Now he spoils life for us, American citizens, in the first place. "

Criticism of the US ban

Trump's decree is also actively criticized in the United States, although his supporters say the president is trying to ensure national security. Immigration policy expert Dow Rand said in an interview with the New York Times that the ban would lead to the separation of transnational families.

In 2017, Donald Trump ordered the restriction of the entry into the United States of citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries. According to human rights activists, the ban affected more than 135 million people. The initial list included Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Venezuela and North Korea. According to the New York Times, an updated list will close the way to the United States for another 12,3 thousand potential migrants.

Trump's order, dubbed the "Muslim ban" in the American media, was blocked three times by federal judges in various states. But in the end, the President was supported by the US Supreme Court. Iraq and Sudan were excluded from the list, and amendments were made to the text of the order, specifying Washington's requirements for the countries included in the list.

Despite criticism from the Democrats, speaking to reporters during a visit to Davos in January of this year, Donald Trump confirmed that he did not intend to abandon his campaign promises to limit immigration.

“We are adding several states (to the list),” Trump said. - We need to be safe. Our country must be safe. You see what is happening in the world. Our country must be safe. ”

Read also on ForumDaily:

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Miscellanea ban Kyrgyzstan US visa At home
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