A recent article in Bloomberg highlighted the reason behind the dwindling tourism in the United States from other countries – the horrendous application for travel visas.
And while it is an interesting read, I found myself far more interested in the email conversation that followed on The Daily Dish with readers sharing their take and experiences on applying for visas and re-entering the US.
A couple of comments stood out. The first from The Dish’s author, a UK citizen who lives in the US as a permanent resident:
Most Dishheads are American citizens, so they don’t fully see what it is like to enter the US as a non-citizen. It’s a grueling, off-putting, frightening, and often brutal process.
And another from a US citizen who lives overseas on what it is like to merely visit family:
I’m a US citizen who has lived outside of the US since 1998. My least favourite country to travel to is the US. While I’m sure that my experience is not as brutal as yours or as others who apply for visas, it can also be brutal for US citizens going home.
A year ago at Christmas my family (my wife and daughter are also American) was traveling home to be with our extended family. The border agent – I think this was at LAX – after asking us many questions about where we worked and what we did then asked us why we were coming to America. I wanted to tell him to fuck off as it was none of his business why I wanted to come home to my own country. Of course all I could do was smile and answer or else suffer the pain of being pulled into an interrogation room for hours. Previously to this he’d subtly changed our answers and repeated the same question back to us to try and catch us out as he appeared to assume we were lying.
Most of us have stories or know someone who has a story about the paranoid and sometimes semi-Gestapo attitudes of US Custom and Border officials, and yes, this is a bit off the FATCA wagon, but with about 81% of countries around the world required to have a visa before visiting the USA, how long can it be before no one does anymore? And when even being a citizen of the US isn’t enough to keep you from being a suspect simply because you chose to live elsewhere, tell me why again that the US is allowed to dictate the domestic policy of other sovereign nations? Nations that the US clearly thinks little of if they treatment of those nations citizens is any criteria by which to judge them.