Chasing A Dream: The Tourist Visa In Peru

AuthorJuan Andres Fuentes

    Juan Andres Fuentes= Juan Andres Fuentes earned his J.D. from Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru (2000) and is a member of the Lima Bar. He also has a M.A. in Law from McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific. "Infinite thanks to my parents Juan and Milta for their love and support. Heloise, je suis fois pour toi."

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Eran las cinco de la manana un seminarista, un obrero con mil papeles de solvencia que no le dan para ser sinceros. Eran las siete de la manana y unopor uno al matadero pues cada cual tiene suprecio buscando visa para una suefio. El sol quemdndoles la entrana, un formulario de consuelo con una foto 214 que se derrite en el silencio. Eran las nueve de la manana con la paciencia que se acaba pues ya no hay visa para una suefio. Buscando visa para un suefio: la razon de ser, buscando visa para no volver 1

Peru, a democratic nation with a rich ethnic mix and an astounding variety of climates and ecosystems,2 has suffered one of the greatest economic crises of its entire history. Politicians have increased their fortunes at the expense of the national treasury. Terrorist groups, who thought violence was the way to establish a new social order, have created disorder and scared away domestic and foreign investment.

Many Peruvians have looked for a way to leave the country.3 Millions of foreign nationals enter the United States each year with non-Page 200immigrant visas, the great majority of them as visitors.4 The non-immigrant visitor classification is known as the tourist visa, covering business activities as well as pleasure and tourism.

In Peru, this visa can be obtained only at the United States embassy in Lima. When I was in Lima, I used to pass by the embassy on my way to the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru, where I studied. It was common to see an endless line of people in front of the Embassy, waiting to be called, to face the interview of their lives. Every applicant must pay a $100 fee,5 fill out the OF-156 Form, present two color photos (37 X 37 square mms), and have a valid unexpired passport.6 The presumption is that every person applying for a B visa intends to live in the United States.

It is recommended that an applicant traveling for pleasure present a letter of invitation from his or her hosts. Alternatively, the applicant may present a statement from a travel agency stating that its customer is participating in a specific tour or cruise. If an applicant does not have sufficient funds to cover his or her travel expenses, it is necessary to show that someone in the United States is going to pay for the applicant's travel, for example, by presenting a notarized affidavit to that effect. A person seeking admission to the United States for medical reasons should present a statement from a private doctor or a medical institution explaining the medical treatment needed. The applicant must prove that he or she plans to stay for a "specific and limited" period of time by providing airplane tickets, a copy of the contract with a travel agency, or a copy of the airline reservation.

The applicant must prove that he or she has "strong or binding ties" to his or her homeland by documenting marriage or children, current enrollment as a student, or a business requiring daily attention. However, the officials also look for economic solvency of the applicant.7

[M]any consuls employ a three suit rule .... When you apply for a visa you must present a photograph. You also have to have a passport, which contains a second photograph, and you also, in most countriesPage 201must appear at the consulate in person. If the man standing before the consul has a different suit [in the photograph] in the visa application and a third suit [in the photograph] in the passport, he's got three suits, and that means he's got the one word that means that [he] will be issued a non-immigrant visa, "money."8

In 2000, Dante Vidarte Polar, a twenty-five-year-old from Lima, wanted a tourist visa. He was an...

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