Not Welcome

August 9th, 2003

Danny continues to provide interesting coverage of the real life issues dealing with visas, and passports in our new security state. Including the new, amazingly invasive DS-157 form.

A friend of mine was going to drop by while on a trip to San Francisco in a few months. Not anymore. He’s a french citizen living in the UK…And from October the 1st, the US is refusing visa-waivers to anyone without one. You have to get a normal visa. Male visa applicants aged between 16-45 also have to fill in this new extra form, DS-157.

Questions on the new form include:

  • Mother and father’s full name.
  • All the countries you have entered in the last ten years (with year)
  • Your last two employers (with address, telephone number and supervisor name)
  • All professional, social and charitable organisations to which you belong or have belonged, contribute or have contributed or with which you work (or have worked)
  • All educational institutions you attend or have attended (excluding elementary school)
  • A list of specific locations you will visit in the US
Understandably, he objects to filling in this form.

This a gross invasion of privacy, made more shocking by the fact that I probably never would have known it was out there, being an American citizen who can breezily blow through other peoples’ custom lines. (flying in the U.S. is a bit more tricky, involving unpacking every bag I bring, and nearly stripping after being “randomly extra security screening”)

However my first, selfish thought was, “This is going to make it even worse to travel as an American.” We can only abuse other the citizens of other countries so long, before an American passport stops being the gold currency for travelling, and advantage which I’ve always enjoyed. Currently the one downside of travelling as an American is our total lack of decent health care system in this country, which makes it nearly impossible to get health care from overseas providers who know wisely steer away from getting embroiled in the scam that pass for US health insurance. I think its going to get worse though.

Feels like a concerted effort to roll back the positive gains that globalization has made; people travelling and communicating, and learning about their neighbors is bad, only capital should be allowed to see the world.

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