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Stop Chewing Qat If You Want To Immigrate To US, Yemenis Told
Sana'a, March 30, 2008 – The US embassy in Sana'a said on Sunday it will not allow Yemenis who are addicted to qat, to enter the United States as immigrants.
The immigrant visa applicants should prove they have stopped using qat three years ago at least, if they want to be eligible applicants, a diplomatic source told Gulf News.
It is worth mentioning that many Americans based in Yemen, including diplomats, use qat during Majlis (social gatherings).
This measure will not be applied to those who go to the US for a visit, and not for immigration, the sources said. "Qat has two chemical components, cathine and cathinone, legally defined as drugs by the US Centre for Disease Control and the US Controlled Substances Act," the sources said.
"Cathine is a Schedule IV drug and cathinone is a Schedule I drug. Schedule I drugs are considered to have a high potential for abuse and for which there are currently no accepted medical uses."
Abuse of Schedule I drugs is considered a "Class A" medical ineligibility under the Immigration and Nationality Act. So, the sources said, applicants for immigrant visas who are medically found to have used a Schedule I drug beyond simple experimentation (ie a single use), must be found ineligible for a visa.
Former users of qat that can medically prove that they have not used it for at least three years may be found to have a "Class B" medical condition.
According to the INA, "sustained, full remission of addiction or abuse of specific substances" reduces the Class A medical ineligibility to a Class B medical condition, which does not render the applicant ineligible for an immigrant visa.
About 60 per cent of Yemenis including women and children use qat as an stimulant. Students use it to help them stay awake during exams.
Those who support qat say it helps them relax from strains and stresses of work. Qat sessions in Yemen bring together people from different social, political and economic backgrounds.
Women have their own qat sessions.
What is qat: Natural stimulant
Qat is a natural stimulant from the Catha Edulis plant found in east Africa and southern Arabia. The shrub reaches heights of up to 20 feet.
Qat leaves contain psychoactive ingredients known as cathinone and cathine, a milder form of cathinone. Fresh qat leaves, which are typically chewed, produce a mild euphoria.
Source: Gulf News