Almost eight months after the Department of State denied a visa to Rafi Khetab, a student accepted into the School of Foreign Service class of 2012, Khetab remains barred from entry into the country and has yet to begin his freshman year at Georgetown.

“When I last applied for a student visa at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan [it] was the fall of last year and unfortunately the visa didn’t come through – or in other words wasn’t approved,” he said.

In September, Khetab said that U.S. officials’ fears that he would not return to Afghanistan after the visa expired were unfounded.

“I do not have that intention; I want to come home and serve my people and serve my family. I have a huge family of 15 people that I am responsible for here in Kabul,” he said.

Since his first application, Khetab said that he has been in touch with Georgetown officials, specifically at OIP.

“From the first time I was denied a visa up until now, I’ve been fully in touch with officials at Georgetown University, especially from the OIP,” Khetab said. “After the last visa denial, I sent a deferral request to OIP and the [Office of Admissions], which was happily approved for fall 2009 entry.”

“We’re hoping that he will be here this fall. He’s a very promising student,” said Melanie Buser, an international student adviser in the Office of International Programs.

She added that now that Khetab can apply for a visa within his own country, rather than travel to Pakistan, Buser is hopeful that this will help him gain entry into the United States.

Khetab noted that traveling to Pakistan to apply for a visa did make things difficult last year.

“Until last year, all Afghan applicants had to travel all the way to Pakistan, a neighboring country to Afghanistan, for a U.S. visa, because the American Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan wasn’t operational and thus was not issuing any student visas,” he said. “Now, as of February 2009, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan started issuing student visas and the next time I’ll be applying for a visa will be here in Kabul for fall 2009.”

Buser said that OIP will be sending Khetab a visa application in April, 120 days before the start of school, which is the soonest he can apply for a visa.

“As soon as I have the ability to generate a new form for him in the spring I will send it to him along with a letter of support,” she said.

Despite all these troubles, Khetab said that he is still hopeful that he will be able to attend Georgetown in the fall.

“I still haven’t given up and will do my best to secure a student visa for this fall and start school at [Georgetown] soon and I am really looking forward to it,” he said. “I will not give up as getting an American education has been my childhood dream and am going to work hard steadfastly on getting this dream realized, again with your support.”

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