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Afghan Girls Robotics Team Was Denied Visas to Travel to the United States

By Peek & Toland on December 15, 2017

Concerns about denied visas to travel to the United States have spiked during the Trump administration and there have been some high profile examples of people barred from traveling.

In July, an all-girls robotics team from Afghanistan that was selected for an international robotics competition in Washington, D.C. was denied visas by the U.S. State Department, reported ABC News.

The team was twice denied visas. However, the girls were eventually allowed to compete in the competition after a backlash.

Afghan team was denied visas to travel

The Afghan girls robotics team was initially denied visas to travel

The team was made up of six teen girls from Herat in Afghanistan. They were hoping to take part in the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge. The event was a high tech challenge in which teams of young men and women from around the world got the chance to showcase robots they built.

The team’s bio on the competition’s website stated:

“As a dedicated group of students, mentors, and volunteers, we aim to transform the culture of our community through the STEAM program and become some of the young leaders of science and technology.”

They were reported to be devastated after being denied visas to travel to the United States. The reasons for the denial and subsequent approval were unclear.

The State Department told ABC News visas are evaluated on a case-by-case method and it could not comment on individual visa applications.

Sestak speculated the war in Afghanistan may have been a factor leading to the initial visa denials.

Another possible motive may have been the fear the girls would not return home.

The Washington Post noted a brain drain from war torn Afghanistan.

Afghan and U.S. officials said teachers, scholarship students, and others who receive temporary visas to visit the United States frequently disappear into immigrant communities instead of returning to the Middle East.

It may explain the few visas that are being granted to people from Afghanistan.

Statistics from the State Department revealed a mere 112 business visas were granted to visitors from Afghanistan in the 2017 financial year.

In contrast, Syrians received 256, Iraqis 780 and Iranians 1,091. While Syria and Iran are on a list of majority Muslim countries in Donald Trump’s travel ban which is to be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, Afghanistan is not.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get visas to visit the United States if you are from certain countries. A Texas visa attorney can help you with your application and minimize your chances of rejection. Call Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 or see our resources on visas here.

 

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