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(#117-12/16/99)

Letter from Santa


Dear Kevin:

Please help me. Last December I was traveling throughout the United States delivering presents to children. Assisting me with this job, which I love to do each year, were my 9 co-workers. Their names are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph. Much to my surprise, towards the end of my trip on the way from San Diego to Los Angeles, my co-workers and I were asked by someone in an INS uniform to show proof that we were allowed to be in the United States. We have been making this annual trip for many years and we have never been asked to provide such documentation anywhere in the world ever before. Of course we had no proof with us. In fact, we don't even have passports

I told the INS officer that we only intended to stay in the US for one night and our mission was to deliver presents to all of the good children in America. Of course the officer did not believe us. He said he had never heard of someone coming to visit the United States for only one night. He gave my co-workers and me each a piece of paper which accused us of the following:

  1. Not being a US citizen,
  2. entering the United States without being inspected by an INS officer, and
  3. working in the United States without permission.

It indicated that we were supposed to see a judge in January. Then he released us. We never showed up to court because we had already left the country and we were busy making toys for this year's trip.

Do you think that we will have trouble delivering presents this year given the fact that we did not show up in court as the officer told us to do? Also, is there a visa that you can recommend that we get for our purpose?

Thank you for your help.
Santa


Answer: Dear Santa,

I am sorry for the trouble your co-workers and you experienced last year. Normally foreign nationals need to obtain visas to visit the United States. Our country allows some foreign nationals, like those from Japan, to visit the US for short periods without a visa under a special program called Visa Waiver. Those people must carry a passport. Since you are not a national of any country you will not be able to obtain a passport. This makes it very difficult. I think you will need to either take your chances again this year, or, if you want to be safe, write a letter to President Clinton and ask him for some sort of a travel letter.

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