Guyana Post Office failed to deliver mail from US Department of State relating to a visa

Dear Editor,

The US Embassy in Guyana should, in good faith, reinstate registration that was cancelled after Guyanese failed to apply for visas, due to pervasive problems created by our postal service. Indeed, this problem with mail delivery creates ‘circumstances beyond their control.’

I write this as the attorney for a US citizen whose petition for a US immigrant visa for a sister living in Lusignan, on the East Coast Demerara, has recently been cancelled, pursuant to Section 203 (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA 203 (g)).

INA 203 (g) says that a US Secretary of State “shall terminate the registration of any alien who fails to apply for an immigrant visa within one year following notification to the alien of the availability of such visa…” However, it also says that a secretary of state “shall reinstate the registration of any such alien who establishes within 2 years following the date of notification of the availability of such visa that such failure to apply was due to circumstances beyond the alien’s control.” In this case, let us say my client sister’s name is SC. The US Department of State wrote to SC on or about April 6, 2013, and informed her that she may apply for a visa within one year. But SC never did, because she never received this letter from the US government.

In a follow-up letter dated April 12, 2014 (attached in a redacted form), the US Department of State served notice that they terminated her registration for a visa, with one year left to reinstate it, if she can show her failure to apply was due to circumstances beyond her control. Although dated April 12, 2014, this follow-up mail was not delivered until January 26, 2015.

This is some 9 months later. Sadly, this reflects the endemic mail-delivery problem that exists in Guyana. Indeed, last December, I had cause to write the National Visa Center (NVA) (linked with the US Department of State), to verify SC’s address, after it claimed that it was getting undelivered mails sent to SC, possibly due to an “old or bad mailing address.” SC has lived at her legitimate postal address in Lusignan for over 35 years. It is unclear why the Guyana Post Office Corporation is not delivering mail from the US government, or doing so very late, thereby affecting people’s visa applications. One believes others also suffer from this problem. The US Embassy in Guyana ought to regard this postal-service problem as placing Guyanese (eg, SC of Lusignan) in ‘circumstances beyond their control’ (see INA 203 (g)). It should therefore, in good faith, reinstate visa registrations that were cancelled because people failed to apply for visas, since they may not have received mails from the US government in the first place.

 Yours faithfully,

Rakesh Rampertab

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