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Reuniting Families Across Borders SIS Graduate Jack Bisase Humanizes Immigration

Jack Bisase smiles as he works at a computer to process immigration visas.

Jack Bisase's (SIS/MA '15) favorite thing to do is approve Visas. After all, every approval means a family reunited. A School of International Service (SIS) graduate and Pickering Fellow, Jack is currently serving his first year in the US Foreign Service in the Dominican Republic.

As an immigration officer, he reunites siblings, children and spouses from the Dominican Republic on US soil. As the last step in a long, bureaucratic process, Jack tries to give each applicant a kind, compassionate experience.

A Thoughtful Path

It took Jack some time to find his calling. Eventually, through a travel agency job and avid reading, he discovered the field of international relations. He pursued his bachelor's degree in international studies at the University of North Florida, and it was an undergraduate professor who pointed him toward DC.

"She told me I could achieve anything I wanted in this business, but I'd have to go to DC, and I'd have to go to grad school," Jack says. Thus began his search for master's programs.

A Global Degree

Jack was struck by AU on his visit.

"As I was visiting graduate programs, other schools felt to be in black and white - while AU was in technicolor." It was also the spirit of inclusiveness that attracted him.

"At the Admitted Students of Color Dinner, SIS Dean James Goldgeier came to speak to us. It impressed me the way he talked about diversity, and I felt embraced by the warmth on campus."

While at AU, Jack was a Pickering Fellow, a program that prepares you academically and professionally for a career in the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service.

"That fellowship was life changing," Jack recalls. As part of the program, he worked internships at the State Department and in Hong Kong. He graduated in May 2015, and in September, began training for his first year of foreign service.

Interviewing With Compassion

Working in the world of immigrant Visas, Jack interviews applicants who qualify based on familial connections. The Dominican Republic happens to have one of the busiest immigrant Visa wait lists in the world. To him, that's a big opportunity to make a difference.

"To so many people, Visas are everything," Jack says. And he wants to help demystify the process.

"You've been living apart from your parents, sibling or spouse. And this Visa will bring you together again. The application process until now has been a big bureaucratic machine - cold to the touch.

"Then you meet with the immigration officer - that's me. This interview is the last step, and I'm likely the only human you've talked to the whole way. You're incredibly nervous."

So Jack has made it his goal to humanize this last step. "I really try to give you a great experience."

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