After Mysterious Delay, Mysterious Approval of Kurdish Advocate’s Visa

Nearly a year ago, Kerim Yildiz, a prominent advocate for Kurdish rights, applied for a business visa to visit the United States. Then he waited. And then he waited some more.

As the weeks became months, Mr. Yildiz, a British citizen who has been a frequent visitor to the United States for two decades, sought an explanation for the delay but received little more than radio silence in response. His supporters, including the New York-based American Civil Liberties Union, began to wonder whether their friend and colleague was being barred from entry for political reasons. (The New York Times published a story about Mr. Yildiz’s travails late last week.)

But on Monday, the wait suddenly came to an end. In an e-mail, officials at the United States Embassy in London advised Mr. Yildiz that his application had been approved and that they would issue him a visa. The e-mail offered no explanation for the delay, and visa confidentiality laws prohibit the State Department from publicly disclosing details about his case.

“I’m very relieved,” Mr. Yildiz said in a telephone interview from his home in London. “You just sometimes think there’s some kind of suspicion hanging on your shoulders that you’ll never find out about. I’ve tried all my life to be as open as possible.”

He said that he hoped he would receive the visa in time to attend a ceremony on Thursday in Philadelphia, where his human rights organization is to receive a prize from the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, a philanthropic group promoting social justice.

Since the publication of the story in The Times, he said, he had heard from “quite a number of people” who had faced the same sort of delays without explanation. He said that when he arrived in Washington, where he is scheduled to meet with officials at the State Department and on Capitol Hill to discuss Kurdish affairs, he intended to press for an explanation for the delay.

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