Thursday, 5 March 2009

Getting to America – Part 1

If you are a follower or regular visitor to this site then you will have already seen me espouse upon the loose and wondrous virtues of Las Vegas.

Chronologically this post really should have come first, but never mind. This is a saga of several parts, and I'm not quite sure how many as yet but I am keen to keep it in bite size chunks, so bear with me.
To begin at the beginning, I went to Vegas recently. If you have been to the US before you would have been made aware of something called the Visa Waiver program. The Visa Waiver program used to consist of a green slip of paper handed to you on the plane. There were seven important questions on the green slip of paper. These questions are now on a website. Here they are, along with answers and thought processes involved:
Question A: Do you have a communicable disease, physical or mental disorder, or are you a drug abuser or addict?

Drug abuser or addict is reasonably clear, as is communicable disease I suppose. A clear definition of physical or mental disorder would be really helpful at this point. Anyhow, I took a risk and plumped for No.
Question B: Have you ever been arrested or convicted for an offense or crime involving moral turpitude or a violation related to a controlled substance; or have been arrested or convicted for two or more offenses for which the aggregate sentence to confinement was five years or more; or have been a controlled substance trafficker; or are you seeking entry to engage in criminal or immoral activities?
OMG, so many questions in one sentence. I had to look up moral turpitude; simple definition appears to be anything bad that might have involved a conversation with the police. Had a bit of a problem with violations relating to a controlled substance, so I had to click Yes.
Question C: Have you ever been or are you now involved in espionage or sabotage; or in terrorist activities; or genocide; or between 1933 and 1945 were you involved; in any way in persecutions associated with Nazi Germany or its allies?

Interesting that they would ask if you have ever been involved in espionage, as surely one of the prerequisites of the profession is to never talk about it. As for terrorist activities, if anyone was stupid enough to answer Yes to that then Mr Obama should keep Guantanamo open just for them. For me clearly a No.
Question D: Are you seeking to work in the U.S.; or have you ever been excluded and deported; or have been previously removed from the United States; or procured or attempted to procure a visa or entry into the U.S. by fraud or by misrepresentation?

Erm… No.
Question E: Have you ever detained, retained or withheld custody of a child from a U.S. citizen granted custody of the child?

Again, No.
Question F: Have you ever been denied a U.S. visa or entry into the U.S. or had a U.S. visa cancelled? If yes; when and where?
Well, No.
Question G: Have you ever asserted immunity from prosecution?
No, but I would love to know how, where do I sign?
I clicked to submit and was informed, rather abruptly I thought, that I would not be able to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver program. Well, that's a little unfair, I got six out of seven right, that's about 86%, what sort of exam is this? Apparently it's an exam where you have to score 100% every time.
As a consequence I would have to apply for a proper serious Visa. Unfortunately this involves having a more than significant brush with something I have a little bit of trouble dealing with: Bureaucracy.
Bureaucracy has been defined as "the slowness, the ponderousness, the routine, the complication of procedures and the maladapted responses of the bureaucratic organization." As you will soon learn, dear reader, this is in fact an understatement taken to a whole new level. I may need to invent a new word for it.
Anyhoo I certainly wasn't happy. But, I had no choice. I had to do the dance of the pen-pusher, so like Alice and Keanu Reeves I took the red pill and disappeared down the bureaucratic rabbit hole.
To be continued...

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