Millions of people travel to the United States from all over the world every year. However, entry to the country is not guaranteed. Arrivals from many countries require a visitor visa. Recently, an influential supporter of the Clinton Foundation was denied a visitor visa because of perceived links to terror organizations.
Gilbert Chagoury donated millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation. Six years ago, he pledged $1 billion to the Clinton Global Initiative. His wealth and influence apparently meant little to immigration authorities. They denied him a visitor visa last summer because of his ties in Lebanon to Hezbollah, the Los Angeles Times reported.
In 2015, when the Nigerian billionaire wanted to fly to Los Angeles, he applied at the U.S. embassy in Paris for a visitor’s visa. He was turned down, according to the report.
The Los Angeles Times reported the refusal was based on terrorism grounds and followed claims from intelligence and law enforcement sources. Terrorism-related grounds is a broad category. It can be used against anyone who is believed to have helped a terrorist group in any way, including providing funds.
The report said Chagoury donated $1 million to $5 million to the Clinton Foundation. It cited its list of donors.
He fell under suspicion in 2010 when he was taken off a private jet in New Jersey and questioned for hours. Chagoury was on the no-fly list maintained by the Department of Homeland Security. He was later removed from the list and categorized as a “selectee,” Homeland Security papers revealed. The status meant he could fly with extra scrutiny.
In 2013, an FBI intelligence report claimed Chagoury sent money to Michel Aoun, a Lebanese Christian politician. The FBI report mentioned a source which claimed Aoun was “facilitating fundraising for Hezbollah,” a terrorist organization. The Los Angeles Times report said this raw information was not verified. However, U.S. authorities put the billionaire in a database used to screen arrivals for possible terrorism links.
When You Need a Visitor Visa
Many countries such as France, the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Spain, Japan, and Sweden have a relationship with the US that allows visitors to access the United States with their passport alone if they plan to stay for less than 90 days. Here’s a full list of countries on the visa waiver program.
If you plan to stay for more than 90 days or are not from a country that’s part of the visa waiver program, you will need to apply for a B-2 visitor visa.
You cannot use a visitor visa if you are planning to work here or study unless you are enrolled in a short study course. It cannot lead to a degree qualification. It can be used for social gatherings, family visits or amateur participation in sporting events.
To obtain a visitor visa you must show you have adequate funding to cover your trip. Although this was not an issue for Chagoury, his refusal to be issued with a visitor visa shows how seriously the U.S. authorities take any perceived link to terrorism.
You can read more about eligibility for a visitor visa on our website.
If you are planning to apply for a B-2 visitor visa you may hit many unexpected hurdles along the way. It makes sense to consult with an experienced Texas visa and immigration attorney. Call us at (512) 474-4445.