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New Rule Affects Somalis Seeking Visas to Come to Minnesota

It’s a tricky and often dangerous journey, trying to migrate from Somalia to Minnesota.

Now, due to a change in U.S. policy, it has gotten even trickier.

This could have an effect on immigration to Minnesota and other states from Somalia.

For over two decades, Somalia has lacked a functioning central government. This presents an immediate challenge, right off the bat, in trying to assemble documents to verify the identity of a would-be immigrant.

In recent years, many people seeking to leave Somalia for the U.S. have passed through Kenya. For the past five years, the Kenyan government has required Somali refugees to follow a registration process. Refugees must not only register, but also carry an ID with them.

Many refugees, however, did not understand the registration requirement. Compliance with it was far from universal.

Toward the end of last year, however, the U.S. government began to require application for the I-130 visa to show a refugee ID, as officially issued by Kenya

This insistence on an additional layer of proof of identity has created problems for many Somalis who seek to emigrate to the U.S.

Because of the chaotic circumstances of the civil war in Somalia, U.S. state department officials have often been willing in the past to accept alternative forms of identification. Affidavits given under oath by town or village elders were one way to verify the identities of individuals applying for visas.

Another method is DNA testing. For example, DNA could be used if authorities question whether a visa applicant really is a sibling of a Minnesota Somali, as the individual claims.

Source: “Cultures & immigration beat: Somalis decry new rule on visas,” Allie Shah, Star Tribune, 5-16-12

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