Here's What Happens When You Accidentally Tell the U.S. Government You're a Terrorist on Your Visa Form
A 29-year-old British woman would like to remind everyone of the importance of reading documents very carefully.
While applying for a tourist visa for a bucket list trip to New York City, Mandie Stevenson erroneously ticked off “Yes” on an online travel application asking if she had ever engaged in terrorist activity. Obviously, her travel application was denied.
“At first I thought it was a bad dream and then I realized what I had done,” Stevenson said on BBC radio show “Mornings with Stephen Jardine.” She said she made the mistake while filling out a form on the Department of Homeland Security's Electronic System for Travel Authorization site. The question reads: “Do you seek to engage in or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?”
“I believe I ticked ‘no’ and then when I have scrolled down to click confirm, I think it has nudged and moved. That's the story I'm sticking to,” Stevenson said. “A lot of people have said ‘How on earth could you do that?’ but to me I've done it really easily.”
To fix her error, Stevenson had to go to her nearby U.S. embassy, Mashable reported. At the embassy, Stevenson had to undergo a series of interviews before she was granted a travel visa for her upcoming vacation. The interviews and appointment cost Stevenson $416, and while she was ultimately approved, she had to spend even more money to change her flights and accommodations to a later date.
While pushing back travel dates may seem like a small pain, for Stevenson time is of the essence. As she explained to BBC, she is currently undergoing treatment for cancer and can only travel in specific windows of time.
“I live in 12-weekly cycles because I get scanned every 12 weeks. I book my holidays in very specific times and this New York trip was going to be before I get another set of scan results, so I was really looking forward to it,” she said. “I thought because it was a genuine error it would be quite an easy fix but I was quite wrong.”