Salman Nouman (Twitter: @ImFilmmaker), a U.S. citizen based in Dubai, recently tried to apply for a student visa to attend film school in Bollywood, only to find that the Indian government does not permit naturalised U.S. citizens of Pakistani origin to apply for Indian visas on their U.S. passports. In an Outlook India article about his experience, he mentions the reaction of the U.S. government when he asked them for help dealing with his problem:
After working through the maze of departments within the DOS, I was finally routed to the American Citizen Services and India Desk. They asked me to email them the details, which I did, expecting a quick resolution. Surely the all-powerful Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton would get Consular Affairs to immediately ask India to not discriminate against US citizens based on their origin and treat all Americans uniformly for visa applications?
American Citizen Services told me that India has a right to deny my visa – to which I replied, of course, that that was not the problem. I would accept a denial on my US passport if I was put through the same process as any British, Irish, Italian, Arabic or other origin US citizen. As a US national, I wanted equality, and to be able to travel as a US national without my origin playing any part in that. It is the State Department’s job to ensure that US citizens are not discriminated against. And yet, they told me: “We cannot make India look at you as an American”.
Isn’t it great to see that US$1.20-per-American-abroad American Citizens Services budget is bringing us so many “great benefits of American citizenship”?
If Mr. Nouman’s story has a happy ending and he makes it to India with a visa in his Pakistani passport instead of his U.S. passport, he’ll find in fact that the U.S. has been putting out all efforts for more than three years to make India and every other country on earth look at him as an American. The U.S. is so intent on achieving this that they’re threatening (through FATCA’s provisions on gross proceeds withholding) to confiscate 30% of U.S. assets owned by residents of other countries if those countries don’t look at you as an American for tax & banking purposes — even if that violates their own laws, and even if you have another passport and emigrated from the U.S. long ago.
Mr. Nouman goes on to point out:
Punishing all Pakistan-origin people for one person’s crime resolves nothing except walling off India’s vibrant society from the world. Thousands of Pakistani-origin US nationals have visited India, without ever being accused or found guilty of harming India in any way. Yet those thousands of goodwill ambassadors are all seen as David Headleys.
Even those who renounce their Pakistan citizenship, or are born US citizens to Pakistani origin parents or even grandparents, have to undergo a different visa process than other US nationals and are rarely issued visas with durations that are reserved for US nationals. The US State Department has never stood publicly with half a million US nationals of Pakistani origin.
Of course, the U.S. is already well-known for its promotion of national origin discrimination against Americans abroad, so one more case shouldn’t be that surprising. Washington accedes to New Delhi’s collective punishment against people who emigrated from Pakistan, while New Delhi lays plans to accede to Washington’s collective punishment against people who emigrated from the United States.
On the bright side, as a U.S. citizen abroad, Mr. Nouman can still go back and forth to the U.S. as he pleases … unless of course they put him on the “no-fly list” as revenge for speaking out. Is one Pakistani American out of five hundred thousand a terrorist? Is one Overseas American out of seven million a tax evader? Well then, punish the whole lot of them! Out the window with Blackstone, we have a War on Terrorism & Money Laundering to fight!
In an inspiring and somewhat related story, David wins against Goliath in the lawsuit brought against a Canadian retailer who resells Trader Joe’s products here in Canada, Pirate Joe’s.
Trader Joe’s: “While we are disappointed and disagree with the Court’s determination that it could not exercise jurisdiction over the defendant’s activities in Canada, we will continue to do everything in our power to protect our trademarks and the integrity of our products for our customers.”
Pingback: State Department: “We cannot make India look at you as an American” | The Freedom Watch
Turns out the DC woman who Secret Service shot yesterday was unarmed. What brave men and women who work for the Federal government!
But this Trader Joe’s story is hilarious. Pirate Joe’s is their best Canadian customer, and they tried to sue him for re-selling their products in Canada in a US Federal court and plan next to take it to a Washington State court, as if that will make any difference. These Americans are simply delusional and unbelievably stupid. It’s just like FATCA–except this is the US government cutting off its nose to spite its face.
But the Indian story, now that’s usable. The US finally admitting that they can’t make any country treat you as an American. So someone should send this to Jim Flaherty and Justin Trudeau. Obviously, Canada can decide whether its going to treat her own citizens as American or as Canadians. Duh.
On the story of Mr. Nouman, every country reserves to itself the right to decide if and how foreign nationals enter their country.
@northernshrike – I don’t think anyone was suggesting that the US should interfere with the running of another country, quite the contrary. I think the key words relevant to FATCA are “we cannot make India look at you as an American”. This combined with FATCA, in which the US is doing exactly that – trying to force other countries to view their citizens as Americans – simply highlights how effed up the US is.
Let’s substitute Canada for India in that sentence – wouldn’t that solve many of my/our FATCA problems?
Methinks that Canada should review how US persons enter Canada now that it’s determined that we are Trojan Horses for the USG.
Good point – For the USG you’re American regardless of the other country’s laws for taxes, but not when apply for visa. Hypocrisy pure and simple
Two different branches of the poison tree.
Pingback: Citizenship and the freedom of travel from and travel to other countries | U.S. Persons Abroad - Members of a Unique Tax, Form and Penalty Club
India has begun to recognize the potential of its diaspora. The Indian government under Modi is reaching out to the Indian diaspora of 25 million and wants to turn them into global ambassadors for India:
“India wants to turn 25 million in the diaspora into global ambassadors
India’s new government views expatriates as a key asset in foreign policy and development at home. (MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
By Rama Lakshmi February 18
NEW DELHI — For years, Indians viewed their countrymen who emigrated abroad for better opportunities with suspicion — as if they’d somehow betrayed the motherland.
But with roughly 25 million people of Indian origin now scattered across the globe — including more than 3 million in the United States — attitudes about the Indian diaspora are changing dramatically. And the country’s new government is looking at the huge expatriate population — second only to China’s — as a valuable component of India’s foreign policy, in much the same way the Jewish diaspora in the United States influences international opinion and policy on Israel.
“We are changing the contours of diplomacy and looking at new ways of strengthening India’s interests abroad,” said Ram Madhav, general secretary of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). “They can be India’s voice even while being loyal citizens in those countries. That is the long-term goal behind the diaspora diplomacy. It is like the way the Jewish community looks out for Israel’s interests in the United States.” ”
Contrast India’s mature approach to its diaspora with the US government under the Obama administration.
There is irony in Obama encouraging the Indian diaspora in the US to improve trade between the US and India while his administration ramps up threats against its own diaspora.
” Obama enlists help of Indian diaspora in US to bolster stronger economic ties
White House announces new fund to channel investment and believes thriving Indian community in US could be key to unlocking greater economic integration
The three million-strong Indian American diaspora in the US is being enlisted to help kickstart relatively lacklustre economic ties between the two countries.
Despite all the political warmth surrounding Barack Obama’s visit to Delhi this week, India is the source of only 2% of American imports and the destination of only 1% of its exports.
But the White House believes the thriving Indian community in the US could be the key to unlocking greater economic integration and has announced a new fund to channel investment to parts of India’s economy most in need of development.
“I am proud to announce a new public private partnership to help millions of proud Indian Americans directly invest in India’s future,” Obama told business leaders in Delhi. ”
Obama’s got some nerve trying to take advantage of any good will the Indian diaspora has for the Indian homeland when he treats the US’s diaspora like such garbage.
Meanwhile the US’s diaspora is renouncing in record numbers because of US policy! Shame on Obama!
If those “proud Indian-Americans” actually invest any money back in India they had better remember to file their FBARs and 8938s. Their Indian business partners are going to be mighty pissed off when they discover their business now must be reported annually to the IRS because they took on a partner with a US taint.
Once the word gets out about the implications of having a US tax resident for a business partner I don’t expect anyone in India will touch this program with a 10 foot pole.