Is basing Visa policies on nationality unfair?
This article comes from something very relevant in my life right now. The painful process of applying for a Visa for travelling. I am not the only one, Ernesto Guevara also complained about it while setting off for his motorcycle adventure!
Every time a person applies for a Visa, the country of destination is anxious to ensure that the person is not going to overstay his Visa and try to immigrate illegally, is not going to become a burden financially for the country and is going to behave in a way that does not harm the people and property of the country. For these three objectives, there are three broad categories of documents to be submitted. Firstly, proof of employment in home country and evidence to support purpose of visit such as an invitation letter, secondly, travel arrangements, insurance and proof of finances for the stay and thirdly, past records of travel abroad and history of any criminal offenses in home country.
While the process seems fair, there’s a twist. This process is applicable to me, an Indian who is planning to travel for leisure to Europe but not to an American passport holder who is planning to do the same. I, as an individual, might meet all the three objectives satisfactorily yet I will be subjected to more scrutiny, to painful process and be charged for the process.
While nationality doesn’t guarantee good intentions, countries use probability to reduce their costs associated with the process. Because probably more Indians have, historically, immigrated illegally than Americans. On a side note, granting Visa is also used in negotiating diplomatic deals between countries. However, if we look at what the former represents, it is potentially a form of racism.
Everyone should be put through the same comfort or distress. But here, some people have won a lottery by birth. We all have so much that we have won by birth- it is lucky and it is unfair. But everyone has opportunities to get education, money and a clean criminal record. But how can one get a nationality by birth? Life is unfair, but we should correct that wherever we can.
Doesn’t this make you uncomfortable somewhere? If it is true for granting a Visa, it is also true for providing employment or for giving a table at a restaurant.
Deciding who enters a country is totally the prerogative of the country but whether they can decide basis nationality is a debate we should have at an international level.
Time to strike the hornet’s nest?