Phone Ahead to Seek US Visa

The US embassy now requires all people applying for nonimmigrant visas to make an appointment by telephone rather than wait in line at the embassy, officials said.

The policy, which took effect last week, was instituted to make it easier and more convenient for people seeking US nonimmigrant visas, the em­bassy said. An official said the new policy would not be an added burden because most people who live in or come to Phnom Penh to apply for visas have access to personal phones or street vendors’ phones.

When asked how many operators are staffing the phone lines, the official said, “enough,” adding that it was not embassy policy to disclose employment information.

More than 60 percent of applicants have been denied non-immigrant visas since the US Em­bassy reinstated its visa policy in 1997, allowing tourists, businessmen, students and others to visit the US, officials have said previously. The rate can be as high as 80 per­cent during some months, of­ficials said.

Between February 2000 and January 2001, more than 8,000 Cam­bo­dians applied for tourist visas. An estimated 4,800 request were denied, officials said.

The embassy did not provide figures showing how many people applied for nonimmigrant visas since January 2001.


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