25 October 2010

Family stuck in Canada awaiting US Visa decision

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A Canadian family has been stuck in Canada while waiting for their US Visas to be renewed, despite having lived and operated a successfull business in the United States for five years.

Masud Hasan, a Bangladeshi with Canadian citizenship, has lived in the United States for five years under a US Visa available to foreigners who invest in businesses and provide jobs for Americans. Mr Husan has been in the US for more than a decade, first with student then working visas before buying Healthquest Chiropractic in Bellevue.

When his E-2 investor visa expired in July, Mr Hasan, 44, traveled to Toronto with his Canadian wife and American-born daughter, to wait its renewal – a process that can be expected to take up to six weeks.

The family is still stranded north of the border 15 weeks later, because despite Hasan's Canadian citizenship his country of birth may be subjecting him to deeper security scrutiny – although the US State Department denies that, saying no one is subject to special review because of where they were born.

The couple are falling deeper into debt, and Mr Hasan is scrambling to keep the Bellevue business afloat. Mr Husan’s six employees also face uncertainty.

"We're counting hours and days while my practice suffers, our house sits idly by and our debt grows," he said. "If we were told the answer is yes or no, then we could plan for it. Worst of all, every day my 6-year-old daughter asks, 'When are we going back home, Baba?'"

Nearly 167,000 investors and their spouses and children were granted E-2 visas in 2009, up from 117,000 at the start of the decade. On its own, the visa does not lead to any kind of permanent residency and investors must renew it every five years.

The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their ESTA application to the US Embassy.

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