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CBP Confirms Plasma Contributions Could Jeopardize Travel Visas

1 month 4 weeks 7 hours ago Monday, December 23 2019 Dec 23, 2019 December 23, 2019 9:18 PM December 23, 2019 in News - Local

HIDALGO – Concerns are surfacing over the possibility of losing travel visas due to plasma sales.

Customs and Border Protection confirmed they have the authority to pull the visas if they believe travelers are not following the rules. 

An immigration attorney we spoke to, Jaime Diez, says these concerns are cyclical. The last time CHANNEL 5 NEWS addressed the concerns was back in June.

The public reported finding wads of bandages ripped from people's arms and being thrown into trash cans in the restrooms by the bridge.

On Monday, after a quick inspection of the trash cans, a lone bandage could be seen inside one of the trash bins outside of the restroom.

Travel visa holders are fearful of revealing their recent plasma donations in centers that pay for their contribution. Their visas are granted to them under the condition they do not study, live or work in the U.S.

CBP officers have the authority to check whether these travelers are holding to the conditions.

Diez explained, "Immigration goes through periods where they start checking people when they come across, and they check their arms when they have border crossing cards. If they see that there are punctures and they figure out that you were selling plasma, they cancel your visa."

CBP sent a statement stating: 

"B1/B2 card holders who cross the border to sell plasma may be in jeopardy of having their document revoked by a CBP officer. The CBP officer has discretion and may handle these situations on a case-by-case basis taking into account all available information present at the time of entry. For further information on B1/B2 and what is allowable please contact the U.S. State Department."

CHANNEL 5 NEWS did contact the State Department. They stated:

"The State Department does not have published guidance on the legality of this specific purpose of travel. Visa adjudication depends on the individual circumstances of every application."

Diez says the lack of clarity is creating problems. He proposes posting signs that educate the public about the possibility of losing a visa to plasma sales.

"But the worst thing about it is if they cancel your visa, is that you probably won't be able to get another visa. Because they're going to put down that you misrepresented your intentions to the government of the United States, that you acted fraudulently, that you told them you were coming to visit but instead you were coming to work," he says. 

For Diez, the risk outweighs the benefit. "I would tell people that I wouldn't sell my plasma if they want to keep their visa," he advised.

That decision can become a gamble for visa holders in search of a quick payoff. 

Diez further explained the visas are not a right. If they are taken away, an appeal is not possible. 

The State Department sent additional information in a follow-up email:

"You may find the public-facing version of the Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual useful. The FAM is the guidance that consular officers overseas use to adjudicate visa applications. The link to the “tourist” nonimmigrant visa section of the FAM is here."

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