United States embassy officials yesterday downplayed fears that a new American immigration rule would cause huge delays for expatriates trying to obtain alien relative visas.
Starting on August 15, American citizens living in Cambodia will have to send visa applications for non-American spouses and children to Chicago, rather than their nearest embassy or consulate. The American Immigration Lawyers Association, a group of 11,000 attorneys and law professors, has expressed concern about the change, saying it could separate families.
The US embassy in Phnom Penh, however, sought yesterday to calm fears expressed by worried expats at a meeting in the capital on Tuesday.
“This change is only affecting the filing and initial processing of petitions,” embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh said. “Being that the embassy in Phnom Penh has a small caseload, we believe this change will have a minimal effect on processing times.”
The American Cambodian Business Council is scheduled to discuss the issue at a meeting with Ambassador Carol Rodley this morning. An American woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was still uncertain about the change.
“My husband is Cambodian and I’ve raised his daughter like she was my own since she was young, but I haven’t formally adopted her, so I’m concerned about what this will mean for our family,” she said.
The chairman of Democrats Abroad Cambodia, Wayne Weightman, said that publicity for the change was poorly managed. But MacIntosh said it had been disseminated in the appropriate manner.