Today was different than any other day because we visited the US Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City instead of visiting with a company. The mission statement of the consulate has five pillars: security, trade and economics, promoting human rights, people to people ties, and environment. One of the main functions of the consulate is to process visa applications submitted by the Vietnamese people in the hope of traveling to the United States. The process of receiving a visa includes lots of paperwork and an in-person interview. One of the speakers informed us that on a typical day, each employee that is tasked with conducting interviews will conduct 100 interview with Vietnamese citizens that wish to receive a visa. We also found out that the amount of time it takes to receive a visa is very variable depending on the type of visa you are applying for. If they Vietnamese citizen is applying for a non-immigration visa, the entire process may take up to 12 years to receive a visa. On the other hand, if the Vietnamese citizen is applying for an immigration visa, it may only take a few days to review the application.
I also found out that another main function of the US Consulate of Ho Chi Minh city is to provide resources for the Vietnamese citizens. For example, they will put on programs that will aid people in their visa applications. Additionally, they will put on programs that have no relation to visa applications but serve one of the pillars of the mission statement.
Questions about why the US would be interested in this work in Ho Chi Minh City came up multiple times. It turns out that a strong Vietnam benefits the US. Foremost, strong trade relations between the US and Vietnam would mean it is less likely for conflict to break out between the two countries. Additionally, the US has a lot of money invested in Vietnamese businesses. It is beneficial for the US if Vietnam is successful. This interdependency of the governments surprised me a lot.
After our lunch, we headed back to UEF for a culture and language class. I had a lot of fun learning with my friends in class. My friend named Alice drew a picture of me. I thought it was cool so I shared it here on my blog. Thanks for reading!