Fear of Al-Shabaab Leaves US Based Somali Wife in Matrimonial Limbo


Amina Awnur has been trying for five years to get the State Department to issue her husband a visa so he can leave Africa and join her

Somalilandsun – For four years, Awnur has been trying to get U.S. authorities to allow her husband to come to Minnesota from Kenya. He has repeatedly gone to the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi with documents, but officials tell him they need more.

“I am really frustrated and very tired, because it has taken so long,” she said through an interpreter.

The 30-year-old Somali-born woman, who now is a U.S. citizen, is among ¬hundreds of refugees whose family ¬members are hung up in Africa, struggling to prove to the State Department that they are who they say they are.

Waiting sometimes for years to have their visas approved, they are children, parents, siblings and spouses displaced by the continuing upheaval in Somalia. Stuck in Kenya, they have been unable to provide satisfactory paperwork establishing their identity, according to immigration lawyers in the Twin Cities.

“It’s a huge problem,” says Leslie Karam, whose firm recently filed a lawsuit against a State Department official in Nairobi on behalf of a Minnesota man who is trying to get his wife out of Kenya. “The U.S. consulate in Nairobi has indicated their administrative processing can take several months,” the lawsuit says. “It has been almost two years.”

Local immigration attorneys say that while a lot of Somalis are getting into the United States, hundreds more have visa applications hung up in Kenya. The exact number is unknown because the State Department has declined to provide data on delayed applications, while cases here are spread among many attorneys.

The problem stems from the lack of basic records in Somalia — like birth certificates and passports. U.S. authorities want applicants to produce them when they apply for a visa, said Brian Aust, another local immigration attorney.

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