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Parents of young entertainers appeal to government for help after being denied visas to enter the United States – SABC News

The parents of ten young performers from Inanda, north of Durban, have made a last-minute appeal to President Cyril Ramaphosa and the South African government to step in and make it possible for them to attend the World Performing Arts Championships in Los Angeles next week.

This happens after the ten members of Go! The Durban Academy of Musical Theater qualified for the world championships but was denied a visa to enter the United States. A total of seventeen members of the fifty-six South African team were refused visas.

In an open letter to the president, the parents say their VISA applications were denied based on their lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

Academy project manager Des Govender said: “We are devastated. These children hold the hopes not only of their own dreams, but of their families, their community, where they come from, the entire city of Durban. So it’s incredibly devastating to have such a hope and a dream and to be told, unfortunately, that you can’t even leave your own country to represent and fly the flag.”

Meanwhile, US Embassy spokesman David Feldman says all VISA applications are confidential and the reason for the decision is not being disclosed. He adds that these decisions are reviewed at a higher level in the embassy and even in Washington.

“So when a South African or an Indian or a person from China or even from the United Kingdom or France seeks a VISA or wants to enter the United States, there is a presumption of immigrant intent. The U.S. consular officer at the VISA window or at the airport at the port of entry must assume that the person intends to immigrate to the United States. It is the responsibility of that individual, not the institution with which he or she is affiliated, to overcome that presumption of immigrant intent,” Feldman further explained.

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