I was born in the era of Nehruvian Socialism when everything was rationed, even US Visas. Those days, my friends had to stand in mile-long midnight queues at the US Consulate to get an immigration interview the next day. If you didn’t get called by sundown, you failed in that attempt.
Today, to get an interview, you need to fill a questionnaire on the internet, 13 –odd pages long! It would appear that immigrants fall into 5 categories: (1) Terrorist (2) Illegal job-seeker (3) Political Refugee (4) Business and (5) Other. In the olden days it was easier: everybody was classified under “Unnecessary Other”. Originally I thought this new categorization was to improve opportunities for unemployed US statisticians; now I realize that there are secret quotas for every category. Ration Raj is alive and well!!! The questions are cleverly interspersed, but if you are smart you can recognize your own category. If you are smarter, you can project yourself in the right category. Here’s an actual live sample (questions are in bold type):
1. Terrorist: Most preferred category since 9-11. Republicans prefer having them locally than sending the Army to engage with them in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.
• Do you have specialized training in nuclear, biological and chemical experiences ? (I reckon they are referring to smoking pot?)
• Have you attended a public school after Nov 1996, without reimbursing the school fee?
• Have you worked for any social or charitable organization?
2. Illegal job seeker: Second most preferred category. Obama prefers them to be in the US instead of competing from BPOs in India or Bangladesh.
• Do you seek to engage in Terrorist activities while in the US? (“Yes” is a good answer—they don’t like outsourcing anything overseas)
• Do you seek to indulge in espionage, sabotage while in the US? (No-brainer— If you did it outside the US you would already be employed with the CIA, right?)
3. Political Refugee: Fun guys. Those on Facebook and Twitter get priority.
• Are you married?
• Were you previously employed?
4. Business: Much-in-demand guys after the sub-prime crisis. Notice the helpful questions below: surely, commercialized vice beats economic recession any day!
• Are you coming to the US to engage in prostitution or commercialized vice?
• Have you ever renounced US citizenship for the purpose of avoiding Tax?
• Do you seek to indulge in money laundering?
• Are you an alien in transit? (If “Yes”, you get invited to eat Earth Food with the “Men in Black” at Nevada)
What’s special about “5.Other”? Well, somebody has to stand in queues, can’t you see that? I stood in the queue: I was not smart enough.
I was fully armed: Auditor’s certificates, Employer Testimonials, Membership of Professional Associations and a sworn Affidavit by my American brother-in-law commending my sterling qualities. I prayed, “God, send me a kind officer who asks easy questions, P-l-e-a-s-e?”
There were 10 queues, but the interrogator in my line was the toughest cookie. He grilled guys like he owned Kebab Korner. The aspirant in front of me was a pompous IT worker (aren’t they all?).
Interviewer: “Why is your company sending you to the US?”
Aspirant: (with pretentious American accent) “For data cleansing”
Interviewer: “So why did the data get dirty ?”
Aspirant: “Escoos me Saar, I don’t know, I didint do yit. ” (Where did the accent go?)
I thought to myself “if this fool — who cannot explain ‘data cleansing’ in one sentence — could go to USA, I can too!”
Next, my turn.
Interviewer: “Why are you going to the US”
Me: “On holiday, to meet my son who is doing his MS”
Interviewer: (looking at my wife) “She is going with you?”
Interviewer: “Collect your Visa in 3 days. Enjoy your trip”
Huh? No tough questions? Was it my wife’s charm? Or God responding to my prayer?
Pity, the US Government will never discover my sterling qualities from my brother-in-law’s unopened affidavit. Never mind, I love the new Visa Rules!
1. Nehruvian Socialism = An ill-advised economic policy of India’s first Prime Minister, loosely based on the Soviet model
2. Ration Raj = Resource allocation by Government quotas rather than by free-market forces
3. Kebab = A vegetable or meat dish roasted or grilled on a skewer