Yesterday, I had a visa interview at the US consulate in Amsterdam. I had paid the application- and appointment fee ($200) and there I went, super confident about my plans and in complete flow. When I arrived at the consulate, I was searched and scanned for the obvious security reasons. No phones and other electronic devices were allowed so I left them at home.
The interview with the consul employee took place as follows:
Consul: What are you going to do? Me: I'm going to walk the Pacific Crest Trail, 2600 miles long which will take about 5 months to complete. C: Have you ever done anything like this before? M: I have completed several long distance trails. The longest lasted for 3,5 weeks, I hiked in the French Alps. C: 3.5 weeks and 5 months is a pretty big difference huh? M: I love challenges. C: Are you going to undertake this journey by yourself or with an organization? M: By myself. C: How do you support yourself in those 5 months? M: I have saved money for this trip. C: What do you do for a living? M: I'm a yoga teacher. C: Do you have a steady job? M: I work as a freelancer.
The conversation lasted less than 2 minutes. Yes I was nervous , and yes sometimes I stumbled over my words. The consul employee typed as I talked and indicated she wouldn’t grant me a visa. She shoved a standard letter through the small opening in the window and gave me my passport back . She said: ‘Here everything will be explained. Read it”.
And that was that. A few moments later I was standing outside, with trembling legs and shaking hands.
What just happened …. !
I totally underestimated this. I thought it was just a formality, going in, answering a few questions, that’s it. Now I understand that the U.S. treats every visa applicant as a potential immigrant.
I was rejected on the basis of section 214(b). They do not go into the substance of the context, in their view I don’t have strong bonds with the Netherlands. Yes I ‘m single, and yes I work as a freelancer, and I have a game plan to go trail blazing across the U.S. for 5 months, of course that does not fit into the perfect picture . Regardless I have lived and worked in the Netherlands all my life and have been a respectable citizen, the bonds I have with my home country are not strong enough in their view.
Of course, the employee stated, ‘you may apply for a visa again’ (and pay another $ 200). But what sense does that make if my circumstances won’t change ?
Apparently I’m ‘flagged‘ now which means that if I want to go to the U.S. in the future , even only for one day , I have to apply for a visa again, pay the fee again and have to be interviewed again, with of course the chance of being rejected, again.
It is bizarre that we are not free to be where we want to be and that our governments decide that for us.
As far as my spiritual practice concerns, maybe the Universe is deciding for me right now. Maybe I have to be somewhere else right now. The gate towards the path I thought was mine remains closed. But which gate will open for me now instead?
Well that sounds pretty much as typical US customs. Our Dutch customs should treat US citizen in this way, then the US government will be all over us claiming that it is their right to travel…. Maybe you should try Nepal, Langtang area, very beautiful… Or get married, or buy a house in NL… ;-). Anyway good luck with planning you next trip.
Hi Tim, thanks! I’ve been to Nepal before, it’s beautiful indeed. I’ve bought a house 9 years ago so I am a home owner (and a business owner, which sounds maybe better than stating that you’re a freelancer). Would that make any difference to the consulate?
I am sorry about that. What a dissapointment. Anyway, i believe the US will pay that back somehow. If they treat people like potential threat/terrorists/enemies, that´s what they´ll get back from the people. The famous ´Boomerang effect´.
Viola, you are always welcome here in Spain…Enough challenging things to do down here: Transpyrenees, Camino de Santiago, … and we will recieve you here with open hands. Much cheaper, nicer food, friendly people too. Think about it. :-)
Thank you for your kind words! Would love to come to Spain one day! But first things first. Still got the Pacific Crest Trail on my mind.