Immigration blues (and greens)

6. Have you ever been a member of, or in any way affiliated with, the Communist Party or any other totalitarian party?

I am filling out my Green Card application and am somewhat surprised this question persists. What happens if someone answers “Yes”?

For the record, I have never been a Communist or a member of any totalitarian party. Nor, my application shows, have I plotted to overthrow the US government. I do not plan to practice polygamy, and I have not committed genocide. The purpose of my immigration is most definitely not espionage.

That’s probably spy test number one at the KGB. They bet on which newbie answers “yes” to the espionage question.

Not that I would know.

11 thoughts on “Immigration blues (and greens)

  1. From Alan Lee Q&A: (http://www.alanleelaw.com/english/qa/QA2007-09-23.htm)

    Membership in the Communist Party is a bar to immigration to the U.S.. There are exceptions for involuntary membership, persons who have terminated membership or affiliation for at least five years and are not threats to the security of the United States, and for those who are close family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents that the Attorney General in his discretion decides to admit for humanitarian purposes, family unity or when it is otherwise in the public interest if they are not threats to the nation’s security. Your fiancee’s withdrawal from the Party at this time would not affect the bar. For the moment, she will have to wait until the time that the consulate finishes its internal processing of her case including background checks.

    I would have thought the US would have removed this back when.

  2. The genocide question was probably my favorite on my husband’s application. They ask you it in the interview, too, at least if you’re applying for a green card through family.

    I also appreciated the fact that my wonderful nation spent money to double-check my husband’s biometrics on our two year review. ‘Cause, you know, his fingerprints and retina might have changed.

  3. Ha, I thought the same thing when I was filling out my citizenship application. It asks whether you’ve been an SS officer or associated with Nazi Germany in any way as well. Not sure about the Green Card forms, but the citizenship ones have a ton of questions like that. One of my favorites: “Have you ever been a habitual drunkard?”

  4. Congress, in its wisdom, put in these requirements to keep undesirables out of the US. However, the questions do serve a useful function as no one answers honestly if doing so would bar entry. If the person subsequently does something the government objects to, and they can prove that the person lied on the application, even if the government cannot prove anything else beyond a reasonable doubt, it can revoke your Green card or citizenship and expel you from the country.

    Similarly, if you lie on your resume on any part of your application to grad school, the university can expel you from grad school, even if you have not flunked out, or have not been caught in some unambiguously provable ethics violation.

  5. Some of these are exactly the same questions they ask on security clearances. I’ve spent a good ten years pondering who answers “yes” to the “Have you ever advocated for the violent overthrow of the United States government?” question.

  6. Similar set of questions I had when I was ordering my Dell computer online (sidenote: worst customer service in the world)
    The questions included “Are you planning on using this computer to plot a nuclear attack on American soil?”

    I nearly wanted to answer “nope, your machine isn’t good enough” .

  7. These questions really aren’t that dumb. As acad wrote, the point is not to get truthful answers, it’s to make people loosely affiliated with things the US doesn’t like easily deportable. If someone was a guard in an Nazi camp, for example, this makes it much easier to kick him out (e.g. J.I. Demyanyuk), if they had ties to a militant group somewhere, but can’t be proven to have been a terrorist, this makes their immigration void.

  8. Many people (though not myself) were at some point interested in extreme left or right wing politics as young people and eventually leave such beliefs behind them. Asking about political affiliations on a visa or green card form simply indicates to immigrants and tourists that the US’ protection of free speech and free beliefs does not extend to foreigners on their soil. It is Orwellian and a little laughable.

  9. I know quite a few people who answered yes’ to this question. They are international diplomats who had indeed been members of communist parties. They answered yes thinking surely the person asking saw how ridiculous it all was. In other words, underestimating the stupidity of Americans. After some hours of pretty brutal handling that violated international law, they had to get out their diplomatic passports / UN laissez-passer to get out, and so none of them saw the whole sordid tale to its end out of fear for their own health and safety.
    Doris Lessing has often been asked by US fans and journalists why she won’t come to the US, and has writtne briliantly abot teh conversations that have ensued. She of course joined teh Communist party in Rhodesia.

  10. Oops, I see I should have specified that this was when the question was asked on visiting the US, not in a Green Card Application. None f these people would ever want a Green Card.

  11. I have recently married the woman I love — a Chinese national who, as a condition for her employment with the government as a college instructor, had to join the Chinese Communist party. She is absolutely apolitical and as un-communist as I am. We live together now in the US. Will answering ‘Yes” on the I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status doom her application? I am hoping we can explain this as a humanitarian exception.