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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Getting a visa doesn't have to be a gigantic ordeal

Getting a visa doesn't have to be a gigantic ordeal


Agents say acceptance is all about presentation – and they’re here to aid in that particular chore

“Anyone can get a visa to come to Cambodia, but just try getting out!” says Rasmey Sokmongkol.

He makes it his business to understand Cambodians’ struggles to complete applications for Western visas. His company, East West Visa Services, eases the confusion of this process. It shows clients that often the barrier to a foreign visa lies not in a personal situation, but in its presentation.

Part detective, part storyteller and part guidance counselor, Rasmey Sokmongkol sifts through clients’ lives to find proof of visa suitability. Alongside his co-workers, he locates evidence, organises facts into compelling narratives and drills his clients by preparing them for embassy interviews.

Rasmey Sokmongkol considers foreign visas crucial for the overflowing Cambodian workforce.

“In Cambodia you’ve got 10,000 jobs for 50,000 job-seekers,” he says. In addition to temporary visas, EWVS works to place skilled Cambodian workers in long-term foreign jobs.

“We try to connect them with leading employers,” Rasmey Sokmongkol says. “Guarantees are unethical, but we are working hard toward job placements for high-end university graduates.”

For some Cambodians, EWVS provides help in situations that seem impossible.
Sokna Rankry sought an Australian visa to live with her new husband.

“I love my husband, I want to be with him.... So many things to think about, and so many things can go wrong,” she says.

All Cambodian travellers are categorised as high flight risks when travelling to Western nations. Laws assume that Cambodian citizens automatically improve their quality of life by moving to a Western nation. Wealthy countries, therefore, consider all Cambodian visa applicants to be potential flight risks and future illegal immigrants, until proved otherwise. This is where EWVS comes in to fill the gaps between immigration authorities and those planning on migration for employment. Case specialists assemble tangible evidence for the existence of a client’s job, family and active bank account – ties strong enough to assure that visas will not be abused.

Even romantic relationships and marriages must be proved genuine and ongoing.

By assembling phone records, emails, past visit visas and statements from old friends, EWVS can even validate love.

According to EWVS United States specialist Damon Kennedy, the single most common cause for visa rejection is a lack of guidance, or harmful guidance. Some rogue visa agents cheat clients and weigh them down with false evidence – but even these obstacles can be overcome by telling the truth, he said.

Rasmey Sokmongkol has operated in Cambodia for eight years and won respect in a business sector populated by dishonest agents. EWVS relies on carefully written contracts.

It only accepts client money if a case pre-qualifies as likely to succeed, and it offers a full refund if an embassy indicates EWVS services as a cause for rejection. Case fees range from $500 to $1,000 for first-time applicants.

“People denied think they’ll never get a visa,” says Kennedy. “They go back to their home, and never get to travel.” Standard reorganisation of a case, he emphasises, makes all the difference for foreign employment, education, or simple tourism.

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