23 Feb 2013

Stateless man still facing bureacracy in American Samoa

8:58 am on 23 February 2013

A stateless man stuck in American Samoa says he's being refused entry to Samoa to pick up travel documents just ten days after he thought he was free to leave.

Mikhail Sebastian became stateless when the former Soviet Union collapsed.

He had lived in the United States for 16 years, but after visiting American Samoa and Samoa he was prevented from returning on the grounds that he had deported himself.

He says he was overwhelmed with joy on 11 February when given approval to return to the United States on humanitarian grounds but now he says he's having a hard time again.

He says immigration authorities in Apia now want an official letter of explanation from US State Department explaining why he needs to travel to Apia to collect travel documents.

He says he can't understand why he's having to go through another wheel of bureaucracy and says the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service should have simply couriered his travel documents to him directly in American Samoa.

Mikhail Sebastian has previously had help with his plight from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.