By Anna Saghabalian
Nearly two in three Armenians seeking to travel to the United States are denied an entry visa due to a high risk of their failure to return home on time, the U.S. consul general in Yerevan said on Wednesday.
Robin Busse revealed that some 10,400 Armenian nationals have applied for a U.S. visa and less than 40 percent have been granted one this year. “The refusal rate has been stable over the last ten years,” he said.
The U.S. consulate in Yerevan has regularly released the number of non-immigrant visa applications processed by it but has until now avoided specifying how many of them were granted.
Busse said the refusal rate is quite high because many Armenians traveling to the U.S. have overstayed their visas. “A fair number of Armenians do violate the non-immigrant visa and don’t return,” he told reporters. “Every time that happens, it makes it more difficult for other people to get visas because you start having a lack of confidence,” added the consul.
The U.S. and the state of California in particular has been a major destination for hundreds of thousands of Armenians who have left their country in search of employment abroad. According to some expert estimates, some 200,000 of them currently live and work, often illegally, in California.
According to Busse, the main requirement to visa applicants is to prove that they have strong personal, financial and other links to Armenia. He said U.S. consular officials are usually right in assessing their chances of becoming an illegal immigrant. But he could not say what percentage of Armenian travelers to America has failed to return home in recent years.