Dear United States Citizenship and Immigration Services,

I came to the US in 2003. I earned my Ph.D. from one of the top university systems in the world. I’ve since worked at two startups. Aren’t these small businesses the engines that drive the US economy? Would you disagree that I have made meaningful contributions to the wealth, the economy and the intellectual property of this nation?

My wife is an artist. She earned her Master in Arts & Technology from one of the finest art schools in the world (and bore much of the financial burden of attending a private school). She has since created art that has been displayed and recognized all around the world. Would you disagree that she has made meaningful contributions to this society?

As law-abiding (non-permanent) residents, is it too much to expect that our families will visit us, once in a while?

Every parent wants to see the lives of their children; it gives them comfort knowing that their child has a good, fulfilling life. My parents have already visited us many times. And always returned back to India before the expiration of the authorized duration of their stay.

But my wife’s parents have never ever been outside India. Not surprising then, that she has been dreaming and planning about them visiting her ever since her first day in the United States.

It all sounds so simple. So natural. Of course, they want to visit!

And yet, you rejected their visa application. On grounds that they did not demonstrate “strong ties to India”?! We tried hard to clarify, to explain something which should have been so obvious, and it was like talking to a wall. So let me make another attempt here.

My in-laws run a successful, family owned, 30-years old pharmaceutical company. They live in a joint family, many members of which are still quite dependent on them for support. Their entire life is based in India. There are kids to look after. There are elderly to take care of. They own property in India. You think they want to uproot all of that and intend to permanently immigrate to the US? For what? In fact, neither me nor my wife have any immediate family in the US!

Why is this so complicated? They are just parents who want to spend some time with their kids. They are not criminals. They are not terrorists. They do not mean any harm. They don’t even know why their visa got rejected!

I realize that the volume of applicants from India is so high that you’ve had to put a lot of process in place, to go through that volume in an efficient manner. But, this process does NOT work. Somewhere between the forms, the rules, the lines, the terse, cold interviews, you forget that not everyone is trying to “game the system”. These are just regular people, wanting nothing but to spend some time with their loved ones. The process has sucked the humanity out of the system — we are all just application IDs.

This arrogance, this helplessness … well, it is cruel.

Being able to see your loved ones should be a right, not a privilege


  1. R Mehta

    I so much agree to Mr. Gupta…the system is filled with cold blooded human beings who keep questioning cruelly .. I don’t mind when you question us harshly.. but please have some respect for our parents at least. I can’t see my parents getting insulted by these filthy rags…
    I hate USCIS.

  2. Arley Lewis

    It’s a shame our immigration system has become so fear-driven. Try calling the local office of the US Senator or Representative for the district where you live, and ask them if they can prepare a cover letter and fax it to the consulate where the application is being made. I’ve heard of that helping.

  3. Deep

    I am in US from last 5 years, going thru usual root of F1 then OPT then H1 with no dreams to settle down in US. but USCIS is so cruel they rejected my widow mother’s VISA twice & my wife’s visa twice with no reason once & once a reason of no ties to India. I will be going back to India but I will remember the world is hypocrite where system is trying hard to make illegal Mexican as legal but we can’t expect our parents, dear one to see us.

  4. Matt Simpson

    A plane ticket should cost the same either direction. Go home and visit them and count your blessings you are allowed to work in the USA. There are lot of unemployed US citizens.

  5. Ulesseys

    There are a lot of people who get tourist visas to the US and never leave (they become illegals). I think that this is what the INS is worried about.

    The rules are opaque and I have seen little published on them. For example, I’ve been wondering if the US has made it more difficult for people from Pakistan to come to the US (this would be a reasonable policy, in my view). However, the INS publishes nothing on this.

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