Press Releases

CAIR-Columbus Files Suit Against U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem Over ‘Extreme Visa Delay’

chapter logos ohio(COLUMBUS, OHIO, 1/19/17) – The Columbus, Ohio, chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Columbus) today announced today the filing of a federal lawsuit against the US Consulate in Jerusalem for unreasonably delaying an immigrant visa for a Palestinian-Muslim applicant for almost nine years.

The plaintiff, Ahmad Abughalia, applied for an immigrant visa in 2007 based on his marriage to a United States citizen. He was interviewed by consular officers in Jerusalem in 2008 and again in early 2014, but to date the consulate has refused to adjudicate his application stating that it is still in “administrative processing.â€

“There is simply no justifiable reason for the consulate to delay the application and keep this family apart for nearly nine years,†said CAIR-Columbus Jennifer Nimer who is one of Mr. Abughalia’s attorneys.  “We believe that consulates have the habit of using the excuse of ‘administrative processing’ whenever they don’t have grounds to deny an application but for some reason they want to delay it indefinitely.  Like many other discriminatory immigration practices, most of the people affected by extreme administrative processing delays are Muslims.â€

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, requests the Court to order the Consulate to immediately issue a decision on the pending visa application and requests attorney fees and damages.

Background of the Case:

Over the course of the almost nine-year period that the application has remained pending, Mr. Abughalia has only seen his wife sporadically when she was able to travel to visit him. They have since had four children together, the youngest of whom Mr. Abughalia has never even met.

“I couldn't be with my wife each time she gave birth, nor with my children on their birthdays. I couldn't bring my oldest son on his first day to school. He goes into his mother's room, and when he doesn't find her starts to cry, believing that she disappeared, like I did (in his eyes). My second son asks me on the phone, when will I come, and every time I tell them ‘soon.’  When my third son left for the US, he could not yet talk, now he is in elementary school. I have never even met my youngest child, who is almost 4 now,†said Mr. Abughalia.  “This is so difficult this for all of us. Apart from the pain the separation causes, it has a negative impact on the development of my children.”

In addition to being separated from his family, Mr. Abughalia had to forgo a full scholarship to a university in the United States to obtain his PhD in Psychology as a Senior International Fellow.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: CAIR-Columbus Director Jennifer Nimer, 614-451-3232 or

Share on facebook
Share on twitter