By Vilma ZENELAJ/
All seems to be going well for the Ymeraj family, an Albanian family of four living abroad in a rural part of Rome since the late 1990’s. Avni, 50’s, the husband/father and self employed carpenter, has been able to provide for his family, regardless of the ups and downs of the Italian economy where it is very difficult to get a stable job let alone have your own small business and be successful. Orders come in daily for this craftsmanship artisan, but he is careful to chose who he will work for. Not everyone, it seems, pays for the work done and unfortunately Avni has experienced few dishonest customers, but hey life goes on and with that other opportunities like winning the diversity visa lottery of 2014.
Mirsada, the wife/mother of two sons, was excited for this unexpected news, after all almost everyone in Eastern Europe and also Western Europe would give it all for the American Dream especially with the economic hiccups of Europe. The news seemed almost unreal for all, but the fact that they won started to settle in their hearts. Raul, 11, the youngest son had been involved in theatre at his school and enjoys the performing arts. Who knows, coming to US would give him the opportunity to be the next Leo DiCaprio. He was looking forward moving to Los Angeles, where mom’s cousin currently resides and taking acting acting classes as well as an agent. Endi, 16, the oldest son was looking forward to going to college in US and studying science. Not sure which subject yet, but the sky is the limit. And Avni and Mirsada were looking forward to working hard, getting a nice small place and retire.
After completing every paperwork required from the INS, the day of the interview was set, money for the visa was paid, doctor’s visit were done and finally the interview happened on April 23rd, 2014. Everyone got excited, except the immigration officer who conducted the interview. Apparently to him, unless Avni answered what subjects in detail he had studied the last semester of high school, which was over 30 years ago, and logically how can anyone remember each subject studies that long, Avni would not qualify.
Avni answered to the best of his knowledge, that even he was surprised how well he remembered, but that did not satisfy the officer who knows nothing about wood. The family showed papers that Avni is a self employed/installer carpenter, a profession very desired according the the visa lottery web site, www.onetonline.org, but the officer refused to see any papers. The fear set in, the family was confused, feeling more like criminals in question that what should have been a simple procedure of verifying papers, individuals and documentations.
How can anyone argue with an authority figure that refuses to see the evidence? It seemed unfair. Very unfair. The officer even had the decency to apologize smiling under his breath stating “you’re such a nice family, I’m sorry!” The family did not accept his apology and they are appealing for a second hearing because of the fact that the immigration officer seemed to disregard DV qualifications which clearly state on their site:
“Work Experience: If you are qualifying with work experience, you must have two years of experience in the last five years, in an occupation which, by U.S. Department of Labor definitions, requires at least two years of training or experience that is designated as Job Zone 4 or 5, classified in a Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) rating of 7.0 or higher.”
Source from http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/immigrate/diversity-visa/if-you-are-selected/confirm-your-qualifications.html.
Also Job Description: Wages & Employment Trends
Median wages (2013) $17.66 hourly, $36,740 annual
Employment (2012) 160,000 employees
Projected growth (2012-2022) Average (8% to 14%)
Projected job openings (2012-2022) 40,800
Top industries (2012) Self-Employed
Administrative and Support Services
Taken from: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/49-9099.00
The family doesn’t know why the officer denied the visa and acted the way he did and can care less. What matters is that they will appeal and if the appeal fails they will seek legal advise to the fullest extent of the law. After hearing from family and friends similar cases happen to fellow Albanians and how when they appealed they were granted the Diversity Visa Lottery, the family got encouraged.
After all winning a visa lottery is not an everyday occurrence and the right to move to US legally is something everyone would fight for.