Afghan students denied US visa to attend robot competition

KABUL, Afghanistan — Six female students from war-torn Afghanistan who had hoped to participate in an international robotics competition in the United States this month will have to watch via video link after their visas were denied  not once, but twice.

The girls wanted to show the world that Afghans can also construct a hand-made robot, but out of 162 teams participating, the Afghan team was the only one to be denied visas.

Fourteen-year-old Sumaya Farooqi says when they were first rejected _ after having made the 800-kilometer (500-mile) journey to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul _ they “applied again for the U.S. visa and we were rejected again.”

The U.S. State Department declined to comment on why the girls’ visa applications were denied, citing a provision that prohibits discussing individual cases.

Rep. Joe Courtney and Suzanne Bonamici sent a letter signed by 53 members of the House of Representatives to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to issue visas for the six Afghan high school girls to travel to the United States to represent their country in an international robotics challenge.

You can read the full letter here.