No visa, heartbroken man absent from daughter's funeral in NY

Monday, January 08, 2018

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PAUL Stevens has been denied a United States visitor's visa four times, but the last time hurt the most.

His 21-year-old daughter Rachel was buried yesterday in Bronx, New York, after succumbing to her illness on December 17 last year, and he was not able to attend the funeral.

Rachel, for the past four years, had battled chronic kidney disease. That, along with a medical history of nephritic syndrome, interstitial nephritis, drug-induced diabetes mellitus, edema, and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, had cut the time she had left to live short.

She was on summer break and was visiting her father when she woke up one morning in pain. She was rushed to the hospital for treatment and shortly after taken back to the States for further care.

Stevens, on his last visit to the US Embassy in Kingston, was told that he did not show enough ties to the country.

After all, his children and their mother had become US citizens and were living there, while Stevens remained here as a meat cutter with MegaMart.

He has had no run-ins with the law, he told the Jamaica Observer, and so could not understand why he had, on so many occasions, been denied the opportunity to travel to the States to care for his daughter.

Back in 1998, having worked in the Cayman Islands, he decided to return home and “try” at the embassy. Having been denied the visa, he waited a few more years and returned on November 18, 2015. He was still without luck. On September 10, 2017 he went back to the embassy, having heard that his daughter's condition had worsened. Again, he was denied a visa. The last time he went was on December 27, desperately hoping to “get through”.

“They asked me why I wanted to visit the US and I told them that I wanted to give her (Rachel) one of my kidneys. They still denied me, so I don't know. I went back after she died so that I could attend the funeral and I was still denied,” a distraught Stevens said.

He told the Observer that he had presented Rachel's death and birth certificates, shown proof that she was a citizen of the country, presented her mother's passport and a job letter stating his gross salary.

On an earlier visit, he said he had presented a letter he received from the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York outlining his daughter's condition and urging the embassy to consider allowing him to visit:

“…Rachel is listed for kidney transplant, she requires regular, ongoing medical follow-up for close monitoring of her disease process...In order to provide Rachel with increased longevity and a better quality of life, we are asking that this situation be granted careful consideration in regards to Rachel's father being permitted to enter and remain in the United States for the period necessary to perform a transplant evaluation and post-operative care. If you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact the medical team…” the letter read in part.

On Friday, Stevens told the Observer that he is now battling depression. He believes that he could have saved his daughter's life but was denied that opportunity.

“I cried night and day. When I speak with her mom, she cries too. She keeps asking why they have to be so hard to me knowing that I don't have a bad record. I don't have any criminal record — nothing like that. I just wanted to go and assist my daughter and come back. I didn't want to go and run off like the others,” Stevens, now overcome with grief, wept.

The US consul has said in the past that most applicants who are denied visas have done nothing wrong and that they simply did not qualify for the visa they applied for. United States immigration law (section 214(b)) presumes that applicants for most non-immigrant visa categories actually have immigrant intent. Applicants overcome this presumption by demonstrating strong ties to their home country that will compel them to leave the United States at the end of their temporary stay.

The embassy's definition of strong ties may include job, home ownership, financial resources and family relations.

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