The Bhutanese Community in the Netherlands (BCN) has raised the issue of family separation and difficulties in getting visas by the resettled Bhutanese to visit their ailing parents and relatives in the United States of America.
It mentioned the issued during a meeting with US Diplomat Lisa Kierans at Hague based US Embassy on May 21, a press statement issued said.
“Our team was very warmly welcomed at the embassy premise by the diplomat who also holds the post of Deputy for Political Affairs, Office of the Political and Economic Affairs at the United States Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands,” said BCN President DP Mainali.
He further said, “After expressing deep gratitude and appreciations to the US government for continuously assisting Bhutanese refugees and consistently resettling more than 50,000 Bhutanese refugees as of now, the team strongly put forward the instances where resettled Bhutanese in the Netherlands were repeatedly denied US visas even when they wanted to visit their ailing parents resettled in USA.”
The BNC team appealed the US authorities to treat the cases of resettled Bhutanese as special, as resettled Bhutanese have enough bases where they could prove that they won’t stay back in USA but return back to the Netherlands once they visit their families there.
“US visa regulation law is uniformly implemented all over the world and resettled Bhutanese cannot be taken as special cases”, the statement quoted Kierans as saying.
“One needs to demonstrates that they have solid evidences like that of properties, jobs, business or studies that could compel them to return back to the Netherlands, but just words and prayers cannot be taken as the basis of evidences,” she added.
The statement also mentioned that she even shared her own experiences when she was a visa officer during her posting at Brazil and United Kingdom.
“It is easy to deny visa in three minutes rather than to listen long story and later deny visas to the visa applicants,” she explained to the BNC team.
That was in response to BCN concern that Bhutanese applicants complain for instantly rejecting visa by the visa officials even without allowing them to explain their cases.
Kierans informed BCN team to ask the relatives in USA to mobilize supports from local politician and gets their congressman to write straight to US consulate in Amsterdam, according to the statement.
“That way the visa officer will think twice before rejecting visa in three minutes and has high chances to get visas,” added she.
She further asked Bhutanese to work hard like that of Indian in their respective resettled countries and prove their efficiencies by starting business, joining politics and becoming parliamentarian and other things that could earn reputations.
“This way the US will always be ready to issue visas as and when they want to visit US and thus newly resettled Bhutanese could also be listened and taken their visa application seriously.”
Meanwhile, Kieran expressed her deep sympathy and respect towards such Bhutanese but expressed her inability to help them get visa as it is the matter of US law of the land.
“She took note of our issue seriously and will transmit the information and our concerns to the concerned visa officials in the Embassy’s visa section in Amsterdam,” added President Mainali.
The BCN team during an hour and half talks with the US Diplomat also showed a power point presentation on the genesis of Bhutanese refugee problem and their struggle for human rights and democracy in Bhutan since 1990.
Most of 350 Bhutanese who were resettled in the Netherlands have their family separated and were resettled elsewhere specially in United States of America.
According to Dutch immigration law one has to continuously stay in the country legally for five years with a diploma of Dutch integration course to acquire a Dutch citizenship.
“With a Dutch passport one can travel without visas in all resettling countries. Resettled Bhutanese here are issued a refugee travel document by which they could travel all over the world except Bhutan provided visas are issued by the concerned countries,” Mainali said further.
He also lamented that numerous attempts by many resettled Bhutanese to acquire visa to visit their parents and other families in US were denied visas on the ground that they won’t return back. “Resettled Bhutanese in The Netherlands whose parents were resettled in USA and are ailing have to live a life full of anxiety and stress.”
The BCN delegation team that called on the US diplomat included Ram BK Chhetri, D.P. Mainali, Hem Rizal, Bhanu Gurung and Binita Gurung.
(With input from our correspondent in the Hague)