It's hard to say what the specific reasons why some Slovaks are denied
visas. The embassy certainly won't tell you why, other than state
"failure to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent".
My husband's sister was denied a visa to visit us in the US twice.
Why? In her case, probably because she is 24 years old, not married,
doesn't have children, and doesn't own a business or a piece of
valuable property. I suppose she would be considered a high "flight
risk", that she would want to remain in the US. That, of course, does
not interest my sister-in-law. She has a life in Slovakia and is not
interested in moving to the US permanently.
The worst thing about the entire process, she told us later, was how
she was treated at the US embassy in Bratislava, as if she was guilty
of some wrong doing. She was talked down to and treated rudely by the
several people she came in contact to, and the experience left her
very shaken. What can you say to consular staff when they are
predisposed from the beginning to think than applicants are planning
to illegally immigrate? Not only is that demeaning and unfair, it also
insinuates that people's lives in their home country have little
value. She will never consider re-applying for a visa to come visit
us, and none of her family will either.
My husband and I were very upset about all of this, also angry, hurt,
and dismayed. I wrote a letter to the ambassador at the time,
Ambassador Vallee venting my frustration at the unjustness of the
process. I also wrote a similar letter to President Bush explaining
our experience and asking that he consider canceling visa requirements
altogether. Slovaks had already been EU members for more than 2 years.
By chance this was exactly the time when Prime Minister Dzurinda was
traveling to Washington DC to meet with Bush (March 2006) and so I
sent a copy of the letter to Dzurinda's office. I got a very nice
letter from one of Dzurinda's foreign policy advisers. Here's part of it:
"It is important that the implications stemming from the current
policy are explained to the Government of the United States and
members of the US Congress. You have a profound role to play in this
process and I thank you for voicing your concerns with the President
of the United States."
He's right that as Americans we have a "profound role" in this. I
believe we need to be more vocal about our wants and interests in
seeing the visa requirements canceled for all EU member countries.
Things would move along faster if our government thought that we were
concerned about this issue. If we do nothing, they will certainly take
their sweet time, especially if they don't believe it's a priority.
Maybe it isn't a priority for the US government, but for my husband
and I, it means that none of his family will come to visit us.
I didn't tell my sister-in-law that I wrote and sent letters to Bush
and Dzurinda. I also sent a copy to "Sme" newspaper. Boy was she
surprised to see a copy of the letter printed in their editorial
section :) That was nice.
I also did receive responses both from the Ambassador's office and
from the President's office. The letter from the Ambassador's office
was lengthy, explaining the process, but essentially saying that there
was little he could do about it. From the President's office I
received a letter saying that my letter would be forwarded to the
State Department. I received a letter from the State Department later,
also explaining the law and the process again, but not adding to much
beyond that. Next I need to work on sending letters to the
Congressional committee that oversees the visa issue.
I encourage others to send letters. I believe it does help, even if it
is in a very small way. I hope visas for Slovaks will be canceled
within the next few years, as Martin has reported in a previous post.
If not, my husband's family will simply be too old to travel after time.
Margarete Hurn Minar
"The Foreigner's Guide to Living in Slovakia"
--- In Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com
, "Russell McCoy" <mccoy4984@...>
> I really hope they get this resolved soon. This was really a
> sensitive issue with my Slovak friends and I couldn't offer them a
> valid reason for the law's existence.