Visa process leaves lives in limbo post 9/11

Visa process leaves lives in limbo post 9/11

AUSTIN - Government suspicions won’t stop Omar Eid from building a life with his wife.

“We got along really nicely, really quickly and we knew that we wanted each other,” said Eid.

He met his wife, Sara, online through mutual family friends.

“We were sending two-to-300 text messages a day,” said Eid.  “We shared every moment.”

His wife is from Lebanon, and she's never been to the United States.  Omar said he wanted them to build a life where he was born, in Austin.

“He was in love with her. I knew that. So, we encouraged it,” said Maaz Eid, Omar’s father.

However, they didn’t know Omar and Sara’s wedding would impact their future.

The couple was married Aug. 19, 2015, but Omar’s parents weren’t there. They were in Virginia for the birth of the family’s first grandson. 

Their plan was to have a celebration ceremony a year later when Sara was finished with college and ready to come to the United States.

Unfortunately, the celebration was marred because Sara’s paperwork was red-flagged.

“It’s tough. It’s tough, but we’re being patient,” said Omar.

The family said it’s because Omar’s parents missed his wedding.  The United States Consulate’s Office suspected their marriage was fake.

“Since 9/11 there has been tremendous change,” said Fred Burton, Vice President for Intelligence at Stratfor.

Burton cites better collaboration among government agencies and better technology in the last 15 years.

“One of the processes when looking at visas is you’re trying to keep out criminal elements as well as looking at espionage, too,” said Burton.

The enhanced process creates delays for many people; cases, like Eid’s, sometimes need more proof.

“The biggest complaint is not that they’re checking security concerns, of course, they should. The biggest concern that I have is that it seems to me it’s taking too long,” said William Jang, Immigration Attorney based in Austin.

Authorities said the way a person gets allowed into the United States requires more work because of 9/11.

Following the attacks, the government scrutinized how the hijackers got into the country. They heightened calls for how to screen immigrants because a majority of the hijackers were here on tourist visas. One person was had a business visa while another was here on a student visa. Four of the visas were expired.

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The attackers prompted changed to the entire system, including how to petition for a spouse, but flaws still exist.

“Mistakes do happen. Human error does occur. You’re relying a lot on technology today,” said Burton.

The FBI admitted certain programs, like the Visa Waiver program, could put the country at risk.  Burton adds a foreign government-backed application opens any country to spies.

“My son has been a very good boy. He’s never got in trouble with anything,” said Maaz.

Sara’s visa application is now under another review. The family said they still have hope for their future, for their life, for their love.

The KVUE Defenders dug into crime records to see what’s changed in the 15 years since the attacks. They found According to an analysis from the American Immigration Council, higher immigration lowers crime. The people who enter the U.S to live are also less likely to be arrested, and less likely to commit crimes.

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It’s a trend that’s remained steady over many decades.

U.S. Incarceration rates are much lower for people who weren't born in the United States. For more information on the 9/11 hijackers and how the visa process works visit the following links below: 

  1. 9/11 and terrorist travel
  2. The 9/11 commission report
  3. Entry of the 9/11 hijackers into the United States
  4. U.S. citizenship and immigration services
  5. U.S. Department of State: Bureau of Consular Affairs

(© 2016 KVUE)


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