With just days to go until they walk down the aisle, a North Texas couple says they’re running out of hope that they’ll get the bride’s parents here from Vietnam. It comes following months of paperwork, meetings and costly applications. They sat down with Allie Spillyards after learning just how difficult it can be for some to visit the U.S.
In just two weeks, Andrew Onorato and Thuong Nguyen will say “I do.” But over the last couple of months, the excitement surrounding their nuptials has been overshadowed by the reality that Nguyen’s parents won’t be there.
“Of course, having my dad walk me is my only wish, but I’m going to walk by myself,” said Nguyen.
Nguyen, who came to the U.S. from Vietnam on a student visa six years ago, said her parents have been denied not once, but twice for visitor visas to attend the wedding.
“I thought there was no way they would deny parents coming to the U.S. for a wedding. And then the first time they were denied, I thought OK, maybe the paperwork wasn’t right, or we didn’t have a roundtrip ticket yet,” said Onorato.
That was in early March. In April, Nguyen’s parents applied again.
This time, the couple purchased roundtrip airfare to DFW. They also verified all of the paperwork before Nguyen’s parents made the seven-hour roundtrip journey to the American consulate in Ho Chi Minh City.
Between the two applications, they paid more than $600 in fees.
Still, their application was denied.
When NBC 5 reached out to the State Department about the rejections, a spokesperson responded saying, it couldn’t discuss Nguyen’s parents’ case as visa records are confidential.
“Whenever an individual applies for a U.S. visa, a consular officer reviews the facts of the case and determines whether the applicant is eligible for that visa based on U.S. law.
Consular officers deny visa applications if an applicant is found ineligible under the INA or other provisions of U.S. law, and the applicant is generally provided a reason for the denial at the time of the interview.“
But according to Nguyen, her parents didn’t receive a reason for either denial.
According to immigration attorney Pallavi Ahluwalia, that’s not uncommon.
“Oftentimes, it’s very disappointing for people because they just apply for a visa and they’re denied and there are no reasons given. Sometimes it just may say 214(b), and that just means you haven’t met the criteria they have set up in that one second time they meet with you,” said Ahluwalia.
Throughout this process, Aluwhalia said the burden is on the person applying to prove their financial and emotional ties to their homeland along with their reason for traveling, essentially proving they have a need to return home.
Nguyen said her parents tried, documenting four other children who remain in Vietnam, a parent with Alzheimer’s, whom they care for, and a farm they run.
She said it’s information that was seemingly ignored.
“I understand what they’re doing. But the thing is, we’re not lying. You know, they come here for a reason, and they come back,” said Nguyen.
Onorato said calls to his congressman along with the consulate haven’t opened any doors.
Rather than apply again, the couple is altering their wedding plans.
That includes canceling a traditional Vietnamese tea ceremony in which Nguyen hoped to thank her parents for all they’ve sacrificed for her.
“That’s what I really want to do, but we’re not going to do that,” she said.
And though they’re making plans to visit Nguyen’s family on Vietnamese soil, the couple’s left wondering if her parents will ever see the life she’s building here in North Texas.
This article, under no circumstances, acts as legal advice; therefore, for any immigration questions, please contact your Attorney or the Ahluwalia Law Offices, P.C. (Team ALO).