Holiday in the United States? Not this time

A good friend of mine, Juan, was denied a tourist visa to the United States this week. It’s technically known as a B-2 visa. Juan’s girlfriend is from the U.S, and he wanted to travel with her to her home state later this year to attend her sister’s wedding and to meet her parents for the first time.

A home-owner (he bought the house thanks to a finance scheme through the Government) and Mexico City Government employee for the last five years, he did things the way that the United States want Mexicans who want to come to the U.S to do things.

That involves making a visa interview appointment at the fortress-like U.S Embassy building on Mexico City’s Reforma. Then filling out the DS-156 – you can see it here on the internet – which asks the purpose of the trip, how long he’s planning to stay, and who’s paying for the flight, as well as whether he has a wife, son / daughter, father/mother or fiancée currently in the U.S. All this costs US$131.

He and Lena arrived at the embassy half an hour before Juan’s 8:30 am appointment, and joined the line of already hundreds of Mexicans lining the side of the building. There are hundreds of Mexicans lining up outside the embassy every weekday morning. Some of them had been there from as early as 6 a.m, when the appointment slots start. Juan had donned his Sunday best – pressed white trousers and short-sleeved shirt, dark blue with white stripes. He had been nervous the night before.

How am I going to convince them that I don’t want to stay there? That I just want to go for a holiday? Juan has never been out of Mexico. He went to the Mexican coast for the first time in his 33 years last year, with Lena.

‘Well, you can prove you own a house here, right,’?


‘That you have a job, you get paid, and that you have had that job for a while.’


Juan is Government City employee and has worked in the same office for the last five years.

I’ve been told by Mexican friends that sometimes it helps if you don’t speak English. Or that sometimes it helps if you DO speak English. That you have to have at least $10,000 pesos in the bank to be taken seriously. Some say you need more. That it looks better if you don’t have family living in the United States. That it doesn’t make any difference.

It was 11a.m. before Juan went into his interview. It lasted five minutes. He was refused. Like all of those who don’t make it through, he was handed a piece of paper that informed him that should his life circumstances change – should he get a different (better paid?) job, should he have children or marry in Mexico, then he should reapply.

Better luck next time.


2 Responses

  1. His visa denial does not surprise me. I am an American who has a Chinese girlfriend (I used to work in China). She is college educated, speaks fluent English and is a professor at one of the most prestigious English language schools in southern China. My girlfriend has been to America and left on time. She had a round trip plane ticket for this summer. The immigration officer asked her if she missed me. When she replied that she did, he immediately denied her visa application.

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