US denying visas to Iraqi scholars and others caught up in bureaucratic nightmare

Historians in the News

Dear friends and colleagues,

As some of you know I have been trying to get back to school for the last three months after completing my fieldwork last August in London. Last October, I managed to get an interview at the American Consulate in Montreal, where I am currently residing. The consulate informed me that my application needed to go through security clearance at the US State Department. My minimum wait was supposed to be 3 weeks. Three months later (three days ago), I received a phone call from the embassy, telling me that they have approved my visa application, but cannot issue it on my current passport. I was told that since the beginning of January 2007, the US Homeland Security is not accepting any Iraqi passport that does not carry the 'G' series number on it (this is the most recent series of Iraqi passports issued by the current Iraqi government). I have the N series passport that is still valid and is accepted by the Iraqi government and consulates abroad. However, it is not accepted anymore by the US and the UK (and probably some other European countries). I spoke to the Iraqi consulate in Ottawa to schedule an appointment to renew my passport. They informed me that they don't issue the new G series passport and that the only way to get this new and 'valid' passport is to go personally to Baghdad and apply for one!
The Iraqi consulates in north America has been writing to the US State Department about this issue and has only received the deaf ear. This is not only affecting me personally but also millions of Iraqis who are stuck abroad; who have fled the sectarian violence in Iraq and cannot return back to Iraq.

The US State Department has declared bureaucratic war on Iraqi citizens. The message is that we are not welcome anymore, even when we have legitimate and formal reasons, such as being students at respectable universities. I have no idea when, that is if,I will be able to return to school. It is so humiliating and degrading. I wanted you all to know what is going on because I am really sick of being docile and having to internalize this form of mistreatment and violence. I call on you, my friends, to try to vocalize and communicate this issue to let it be widely known to people in the Harvard community. I am not really sure what to do right now. I am debating going to the media here to make this story more public. Also I am trying to speak with Canadian immigration officers to try to apply for some form of canadian travel documents, through declaring a 'stateless' status.
I need all the support and help that I can get.
Yours ever,

Omar Dewachi
Ph.D. Candidate, Social Anthropology
Harvard University

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