Please HELP! | Headshot Crew
Al Sali's picture
Protégé

Please HELP!

G'day fellow crew members,

Al here from the Down Under!

As a proud member of this global supportive network of elite creatives I would like to share my current situation with you all and ask for help. So please take a short moment and read through following lines.

I have been a freelance photographer for as long as I remember but I started my portrait photography business and opened my own studio in Melbourne two years ago and ever since Peter has been a great mentor and inspiration to me. Sadly I missed his his workshop in Australia last May due to family emergencies even though I was the first person who booked it 5 months earlier. Then last year again I was amongst first people who registered for the Headshot Mania and paid for my accommodation. I was so excited to finally meet him and other amazing Headshot Crew but I’m not sure anymore if it happens.

I have come to US twice in last 5 years without even needing a visa as an Australian citizen but unfortunately since the new administration I have been asked to apply for a visa simply because I was born in IRAN which is a predominantly an islamic country.

The process takes 5 to 10 days but for some unexplained reasons I’ve been the subject of an unfair discrimination and now it's been 8, yes you heard me right, eight months that they are holding to my application and despite my constant emails and follow ups, not processing it.

10 days ago, Peter graciously sent a powerful email to the US Consulate in Melbourne:

Melbourne Visas,

I’m writing to you to ask if you could expedite application number AA006UE33SI for AL SALI. He’s a protégé member of my Headshot Crew and I need him in California in the month of February for an important training that is taking place.

I’m Peter Hurley, a portrait photographer based in New York and founder of the Headshot Crew www.headshotcrew.com, a worldwide network of Headshot photographers that has over 14,000 members. We are having our world conference outside of Palm Springs, California in a few weeks from Feb 19-22nd. You can see details here: www.headshotcrew.com/mania

AL SALI is one of my valued protégé members and the event wouldn’t be the same without him. I had the opportunity to get together with my Melbourne Headshot Crew members in May of last year when I came to Australia, but unfortunately didn’t get to meet with AL. With HeadshotMania rapidly approaching I’d be grateful if you could look at his application and help him through the approval process. If there is anything that I can do please let me know. I know how much AL would value the trip and his fellow Headshot Crew team members would be so thankful to have him there.

Sincerely,
Peter

But every time they respond with this typical email:

"The status of your case has been reviewed, however, additional administrative processing is continuing. The time necessary to complete the additional processing varies by case, and unfortunately we are unable to offer a timeline for issuance.“

Unfortunately I’m not the first person who has been stereotyped by the new administration’s discriminating policy however everytime a pressure from the public or an expensive lawyer has helped expediting the process.

So now that we have only 10 days left to the Mania, I’m asking all my friends here in Headshot Crew to kindly send a line to the US Consulate in Melbourne using the following details and make me forever grateful.

Email address: MelbourneVisas@state.gov
Name: AL SALI
Application ID: AA006UE33SI

Let’s show them the power of unity and remind them that we are above and beyond race or colour or nationality.

Hopefully I get to meet and connect with you all in Palm Springs on 19th of February 2018!

Yours

Al

34 Comments

Alana Lee's picture
Associate

Are you attempting to apply for a regular visa? Could you not enter through the Visa Waiver Program as an Australian citizen even though you were born in Iran? https://au.usembassy.gov/visas/visa-waiver-program/

Al Sali's picture
Protégé

Not any more Alana. It used to be the case before Trump. That's how I visited twice. It's B1.

Michael McCoy's picture
BFAS

I'll reach out to my networks and see what we can do.

Al Sali's picture
Protégé

Really appreciate it Michael

Mike Nakamura's picture
BFAS

I emailed a former ambassador and will let you know if I receive a response since my inquiry may be inappropriate. For the same reason, I am not identifying the ambassador to which I made the inquiry.

Al Sali's picture
Protégé

Thank you very much Mike, it means a lot

Mike Nakamura's picture
BFAS

Nothing, so I don't think I'll be able to offer help.

Al Sali's picture
Protégé

You did try and it means a lot to me. Thank you

Mike Nakamura's picture
BFAS

Sucks. I was hoping the ambassador would be willing to help; however, we're not really close friends. My other friend is very active in middle-East to US relations and nothing from her either.

Some of the other government officials with whom I've worked may recognize me if I worked with them again; however, I do not have their personal email or mobile phone number.

Al Sali's picture
Protégé

Mike, you and Peter went over and beyond for me. I will never forget

Mike Nakamura's picture
BFAS

Heard from one person. Here is her message.
How frustrating! I can’t get a hold of Aneelah from MAPS but I know they have a rapid response defense team. I also know MELAW has a law clinic that does legal work for people from the Middle East but probably the best bet is to contact the folks at ACLU or NWIRP. I texted both contacts to you. I’ve been trying to find a single lawyer contact and this is where everyone has sent me to when others have asked me.

Keep me posted!
Cathia

Mike's notes: I'm not optimistic this will help as NWIRP doesn't seem to align with this situation, nor does ACLU. Plus time is short.

Mike Nakamura's picture
BFAS

I'm sending message to Aneelak at Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS). I am not optimistic it will help; however, I am doing my best. Having photographed many officials it does not connect me enough to really make a personal plea.

Al Sali's picture
Protégé

Thank you Mike, I have reached out to someone very influential and he suggested to contact my local Member of Parliament, and he will go through senator of the state. Apparently they have a system in place for similar cases.

Mike Nakamura's picture
BFAS

To clarify, Al is a Australian citizen, correct?

Al Sali's picture
Protégé

Correct

Peter Hurley's picture
The Man

Any help would be appreciated guys! Let's get this guy here.

Al Sali's picture
Protégé

Thanks Peter, can't even imagine the Mania without me 🙈

Jen Kelly's picture
Associate

I am sorry that there is nothing I can do to help, Al. But I would like to apologize on behalf of all of the rational citizens of the U.S. who realize how idiotic our current policies are!!! We can only hope that the nightmare of our administration with be over sooner vs. later. Best of luck!

Al Sali's picture
Protégé

Thank you Jen. I'm sure a short email would be very powerful.

Tony Taafe's picture
Associate

Any update on this, Al? I know it’s monday in Aus right now so hoping our emails made some difference and you’re waking up to some good news today mate

Al Sali's picture
Protégé

Hi Tony, thanks for following up. I just woke up and haven't received anything yet.
Yesterday I wrote emails to Julie Bishop the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the local Member of Parliament as well as few state Senators. I need to wait and see what happens by the end of the day.

Mike Nakamura's picture
BFAS
Al Sali's picture
Protégé

At least mine hasn't been rejected yet

Sam Oster's picture
BFAS

Hello Al
I'm so sorry to hear about this awful delay and discrimination. What a great idea to get people involved to try to help. Hopefully this will help to get you over the line. How crazy is this situation?! Have you heard back from Julie Bishop? I really hope this gets resolved for you soon.

Al Sali's picture
Protégé

Hi Sam,
This was Peter's idea. No I haven't heard from her yet. Malcolm Turnbull said last year that this issue has resolved yet here I am.
Thanks for your wishes.

Sam Oster's picture
BFAS

Oh that's just crazy. I hope things work out with this issue. I'm just down the road in Adelaide - hopefully we will get a chance to catch up some time! :)

Al Sali's picture
Protégé

I would love that. Please let me know if you were coming my way too :-)

Al Sali's picture
Protégé

Good evening everyone, Friday evening in US and and I didn't get what I need to be with you all.

I guess it's official now. I won't be attending the Headshot Mania this year.

Many large and international organisations such as BNI are pulling their global seminars out of US because of the same reason.

I'm really grateful to all specially Peter, Michael McCoy and Mike Nakamura for going out of their ways to help.

I will continue pursuing the matter I would love to see you all next time.

Best
Al

Mike Nakamura's picture
BFAS

Sorry we will not see you next week. Hopefully at a different meeting in the future.

Al Sali's picture
Protégé

I'm sure we will Mike, just keep in contact now that I found a good friend.

Kathryn Costello's picture
Associate

I'm sorry Al. This administration is an embarrassment.

Al Sali's picture
Protégé

Thanks Kathryn, they're simply incompetent, they put a ban on people who were born in countries which not only never done any terrorist attack in US soil but also never been to a war with US :-D

Kathryn Costello's picture
Associate

I emailed on your behalf. I hope it doesn't fall on deaf ears.

Al Sali's picture
Protégé

I'm sure it will but I really appreciate your kind support, it means a lot