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Private Funds to Spur Armenian Emigration

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Times Staff Writer

New procedures have been established to permit the continued emigration of Soviet Armenians to the United States, U.S. Embassy officials announced Friday.

Relatives of Armenians who were scheduled to leave for the United States before Sept. 30 but were prevented from doing so when federal refugee funds for resettlement ran out may sponsor their immigration by guaranteeing financial support, the officials said.

About half of the 3,000 Armenians now waiting to go will probably be able to obtain such private financing, according to embassy officers, and efforts are still under way to find sufficient funds to permit others, particularly those whose Soviet exit visas are expiring, to emigrate with the help of community groups and charities in the United States.

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“It’s not a total solution,” an embassy official said. “It’s not perfect, but it is a step toward resolving the problem. This solution, incidentally, is based largely on the approach taken when other emigrants come to the United States, even for family reunification. . . .

“The difference in the new procedure from that we were following is that no federal funds will be spent for their transport or resettlement. Before, they were treated as refugees, and the federal government paid for almost everything until they were self-supporting in the States.”

Notarized Affidavit Required

Under the new procedures, the Armenian emigrants’ relatives or a sponsoring organization must prepare a notarized affidavit of support, backed by bank statements or other evidence of income, or secure a firm offer of employment.

This will be forwarded to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in Washington for approval.

Arrangements must also be made for the private purchase of an airline ticket, either here or in the United States.

“If they can produce an affidavit of support and a ticket, then we can process their visas, and they will be on their way,” another embassy officer said. “The State Department was caught by an unexpectedly rapid rise in emigration, and at the end of June we ran out of money. The budget problem was decisive. Solve that question, and the other problems were easier.”

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Embassy officials also warned that the emigrants’ families, community groups or churches would have to arrange for transportation within the United States, housing, employment and introduction to the local community--services that the federal government previously financed.

Consular officials, once notified that the financial guarantees have been approved in Washington, will schedule predeparture interviews here, probably starting in mid-August, with those seeking to leave.

Interviews a Crucial Step

These interviews, a crucial step in the long process in securing a U.S. visa, had been scheduled for more than 3,400 when resettlement funds ran out in late June, and Armenian emigration, which had risen to 2,000 a month, was effectively halted until the start of the new fiscal year in October.

Funds were found to finance the travel of 430 people, those whom the embassy had been unable to notify that their departure would be delayed three months, but most of the rest have been in limbo, waiting for new procedures to be worked out.

Only the applications of those scheduled to leave in July, August and September will be processed under these procedures, according to embassy officials, though consideration might later be given to their extension.

Differences between the State Department and the Immigration and Naturalization Service were believed to have delayed the new procedures, which were promised three weeks ago.

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