British Celebrities Caught In US Immigration Hell

The interesting thing when you are an immigrant to the United States, regardless of your the stage in your journey and how many years you have been here, you quickly realize how clueless most Americans are about Immigration.

At best the average local might know about the political landscape surrounding Immigration which largely focuses on illegal immigration in the media and maybe their own family’s immigration story coming through Ellis Island or in the post war boom migration periods. However usually their knowledge is largely misguided and just assumes a foreigner can just find a job and get approval to stay and then become a citizen one day.

The interesting thing is many locals first awareness of anything Immigration related is if they have a friend, colleague or family member have to go through hassles in their own situation maybe causing them to remain out of country for longer than planned, be on wait lists, complain about fees or lack of job mobility, etc.

However just as often this first experience with the dysfunction of US Immigration comes because of a celebrity they adore. Two such celebrities from the UK in recent times have spoken of their Immigration troubles despite the fact they had the best legal minds, money and advice on their cases not to mention they are clear big names in their respective fields and from the “non-threatening” land of Britain.

We chose these two celebrities because they come from two completely different areas of the entertainment world with vastly different demographics of viewers so likely most people have probably heard of one them at least. The first is John Oliver of The Daily Show fame on Comedy Central. The other is Wade Barrett from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) on the USA and Spike networks.

John Oliver spoke in an in-depth interview with Charlie Rose how after first moving to New York in 2006 he had to go back to the UK every year to be interrogated in US Consulate interviews to get a new work visa for 12 months. He said he always lived in fear of denial and not being able to continue his life in America and on one trip back to the US he was actually told by the USCIS border agent at the airport as to why she should allow back in someone who spends his days ridiculing her country and her president. She later said she was joking but John Oliver took a while to recover from that. As he like all foreigners know that those border agents are a law unto themselves and can deny entry if they “feel” someone’s credibility, visa, circumstance is not right. This is regardless of prior visa approvals and interrogations by US Immigration and Labor departments in the US and Consular approvals overseas.

Wade Barrett is actually currently stranded in the UK because of additional processing of his visa renewal by the US Embassy in London. He was expected to be out of the US for 2 weeks during this period and is now still away 4 weeks later which has caused him to miss many television tapings and two lucrative WWE pay per views. Like John Oliver, Wade Barrett is watched by millions every week on TV in the US and many more millions around the globe so is clearly of economic value to the US economy both for the company he works for and the taxes he pays. He is also near the top of an elite exclusive field in the world so also could not be considered just a generic talent in his field. Despite all that pedigree and the high priced immigration lawyers the WWE is no doubt employing for his case, he is stuck in the UK probably in a immigration process limbo known as administrative processing.

So there you have it no matter where you sit in the foreigner step ladder, you can still experience Immigration hell and the reality is it is not until enough Americans become aware of this that things will ever change as things like the proposed US Immigration Reform of 2013 will become law.

Cj

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