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Reader feedback: Enjoyable bureaucracy

Re: Tongue-tied and twisted, Volume 11, Number 32, August 22 - 28, 2005

The visa regime is really not as "horrible" as everyone seems to think. Success depends on producing the information required by the [US] embassy. I've had two friends from Slovakia visit recently and both easily secured visas. In Daniela's case, we signed an affidavit stating that we would pay for all her expenses in the US, and supplied evidence in the form of bank statements that we had the funds available to cover those costs. It was that simple. Daniela was in and out of the embassy in 10 minutes. Far from being stressful, she enjoyed going to Bratislava for the visa appointment and found the staff at the embassy to be very polite and courteous.

At Dulles, customs did ask her to step into a room for a more comprehensive document check but this was more for her safety than for any other reason. Customs wanted to be sure that this minor, travelling alone, was not going to be exploited in any way upon arrival to the US. Our invitation letter explained everything and customs let her through with no hassles.

At the end of her trip, she was extremely excited to return to Slovakia to see her friends and family, eat Slovak food again, and begin her course of studies at Gymnázium Detva. Yes, she wants to return to the US next year to take a more advanced English course but she's made it very clear that America is not for her and that her future lies Slovakia.

John Sherwood,
Washington, DC, USA

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