Click on a label to read posts from that part of the world.
Nov 26th 2009 9:50PM There are many politically motivated and security conscious visa rules. But when it all comes down to it, it is usually economic circumstances that dictate whether a visa will be granted or not. An American passport is a good passport to hold because the U.S. is still largely considered to be a rich country internationally. Despite some shocking poverty levels and third-world-esque health, education and welfare statistics in some parts of the country, the U.S. still has a high overall per person GDP and it is usually assumed that the small percentage of Americans with passports are probably the wealthier segment of the population. Most countries around the world, even Iran and North Korea (for 3-4 months of the year during the mass games), will allow Americans to visit because they usually have a look around, spend money and then leave. In almost all circumstances it has nothing to do with genuine hospitality or uncorrupted humanity, but cold hard cash.
Some countries respond to obnoxious American policies with high reciprocal visa fees, slow processing, complicated requirements or mandatory tour group participation. This is an attempt to maintain some sort of national/diplomatic dignity and pride in an unfair and unequal system. But, with few exceptions, a determined American will be admitted almost anywhere if they are able to prove some financial means and are willing to navigate the bureaucratic hurdles. On the contrary, a determined Nigerian, Afghan or Zimbabwean passport holder will often find that the odds of having visas approved are stacked against them and they may not be able to have a visa granted at all no matter how determined they are. It is not that those places have mostly bad people in them, but because they are poor countries and their citizens will be suspected of violating the terms of their visa. It is this exact sentiment that caused the U.S. to remove Argentina from the visa waiver country list during their 2001 financial crisis. The unfortunate moral in all this is that wealth and global freedom of movement are more intimately linked than most of us would like to believe or admit.