This is a very personal story of someone who tried to go to United States for a very limited period of time following the most legal way for obtaining the status of Non-Immigrant , but after all previous long term preparations to insure the status and after all financial charges , somehow everything very quickly fell apart and looked like nothing has even happened. I am going to write as detailed as possible how went my process for intending to obtain the Non-Immigrant Visa of the U.S.
Just to underline that my first attempt to get the U.S visa in January 2010 was unsuccessful due to ‘’not so convincing’’ documents I have collected. Well, it was quite shock for me at that time because I frankly hoped I was going to get it and during the interview with someone who worked in the U.S Embassy I was pretty convinced I am just reaching the final moment when he is going to tell me ‘Mr. Miliskovic Your visa has been approved’ within the seconds the employee got very mad toward me with no justified reasons and literary trowed the papers including my passport back to me and said ‘ I am sorry, You are not fulfilling enough conditions to get the visa this time’. I left the Embassy pretty pissed off with no idea what I am going to do next and what is my purpose now for visiting Belgrade in the mid of the winter 2010. So I decided to keep my next visa procedure on stand by mode until I relocate to Germany and insure better and stronger status. I just want to point out that being an emerging artist who btw resides outside of the country of origin , may be extremely difficult to insure some strong connection to the place of origin which , according to the U.S Embassy , may insure that the applicant ( ‘’ potential immigrant – terrorist’’ ) shall return after limited visitation of the U.S.
So, to come back to the point. Somewhere in September 2011 I have been recommended to the Defibrillator Gallery for performance art situated in Chicago and we just have started thinking for the possibilities of coming and staying for 2 weeks on some sort of short residence program. I have expressed very great admiration and wishes to come for the first time on the U.S territory and to show my artistic work I have been doing within the past 10 years. But everything stayed as a sketch until May 2012 when I decided to collect the necessary documents , fly to Belgrade ( the city of my origin and my current passport ) and to apply the second time for a visa. I have got the necessary papers via pdf and it was just a matter of scheduling my trip to Serbia for July 2012. I also talked to the Kulturbehoerde – Ministry of Culture , Hamburg/ Germany and they also expressed good will to support my trip to Chicago claiming the connection between Hamburg and Chicago as the sister cities . Well, I flew to Belgrade and after such annoying procedure to make an appointment for an interview at the U.S Embassy I thought again , it is just a matter of days when I will become eligible for U.S Non-Immigrant visa.
This is my duty to describe You how annoying the procedure for arranging an appointment may be, if it’s meant to be that way.
So, one willing to apply for U.S visa, must firstly go to the Raiffeisen Bank to pay $ 10,00 to be able to get the special telephone code which will allow up to 9 minutes of telephone dialogue with one of the employee in the embassy. For sure, it’s not just $ 10 , it’s more, calculating some other bank charges and the current value of the currency. You have to wait 24 hours until the code is ready for calling. In the meantime , you need to fill up the online form providing in detail all necessary informations. Some of the questions are so insane , like for instance ‘ Do you belong to any of the terroristic groups? or ‘ While visiting U.S do you seek to engage in terrorist activities ?’ that one might not be able to respond without previous lough attack. Once the online form is finished , the applicant gets only the barcode with the photo to be printed out and brought to the interview.
Also, there is a non refundable tax of $ 160,00 which, they claim, is only the cost of visa procedure. Later , I will tell You how ‘complicated’ it is to proceed the application and how long it takes until they tell you the final decision.
The applicant must go again in the Raiffeisen bank to pay an amount of $160,00 which in Serbia regularly may be an average salary or pension , so not easy to collect and even more difficult to lose just like that.
To make an appointment is literary life time consuming process , established on the submissive nature of the applicants , so their motto is : ‘’ if we make it more complicated , our applicants will have no other way but to get more submissive in order to show how much they are ready to drop down to show us how much they would love to visit the territory of the U.S’’.
After almost 5 minutes waiting on the line while the automated lady gives you instructions which button to press , the applicant finally gets the opportunity to have up to 9 minutes of the informal dialogue with some of the employees. When I did so, on July the 13th ( Friday ) I thought that I am done but then the employee told me that it’s not recommended to have printed out pdf documents ( letter of invitation, bank statement … ) but only the originals with regular signature and the stomp if possible, written on the memorandum of the company. I was again absolutely pissed off for getting such a information, due to I already held all necessary papers but just not sent via the post. So I had to postpone my interview and to literary force the partners from Germany and Chicago to send me all those letters again but via regular post , as soon as simply possible.
They did so, which is very nice of them and I am very thankful anyway. The final scheduled appointment for my visa was July the 30th, 2012 at 8:30 a.m , so I got almost all documents before that date and had no fear that something might go wrong.
Now I will describe how the process at the U.S Embassy in Belgrade exactly looks like because it’s absolutely prohibited to bring inside any of the electronic equipment if desired to record. Waiting in front of the Embassy immediately looks like waiting for an execution. 15 Minutes before the interview, one of the employee is inviting the applicants based on the list and telling them to form a line for easier ‘’execution’ . When you are in front of the door, the employee is giving you instructions what to prepare and what to leave at the entrance. Your papers were given to the lady in front of the door who check what is inside and what is important and less important, while on the second side , you must be inspected and pass the detector , like at the airport , leaving cell phone, electronic devices, even flash memories at the entrance. So, afterwards you have to pass literary through some corridors and 5 doors , with no daily light and with no fresh air. In front of each door there is one of the security officers who shows you the way. Inside the waiting room, the nature of the space is so sterile and disgusting that no pot plant may survive. Now, due to highly individual approach I must talk in my name. I was waiting to be invited following the number given to me at the entrance. The first shelter , the blond lady with visibly broken Serbian , took my papers , asked me literary one question , what I am going to do in the U.S and told me quickly to wait , while the next shelter for fingerprints is ready. Inside of the hall there were about 30 applicants alternating from shelter to shelter , answering on some of the most ridiculous questions like for instance :
What are you going to do in the U.S ?
How long You are intending to stay there?
Do you have the original statement that You are the owner of that and that company?
How many employees ?
Is it the only surname you have had since you were born ?
Why do You want to visit U.S ?… and numbness other non human questions …
Finally I was invited to give the fingerprints , 4 from the left hand, 4 from the right hand and 2 thumbs. Immediately after I was told to wait and that my name will be invited soon.
About 10 minutes later , my name was invited indeed , so I picked up my documentation and showed up in front of the shelter with 10 cm fat glass protection. The nameless , visibly young officer in her 30s , expressing no emotion, asked me in some very strange Serbian for the reason of my trip and now I ‘ll write in a form of a dialogue, to make this real story even more realistic :
Officer : Mr. Miliskovic, what is the reason of your trip to United States ?
Me : I was invited from Defibrillator Gallery situated in Chicago , IL , to come in October 2012 for a short residence program.
Officer : How did you get in contact with this gallery?
Me : I am performing within the network of Live Art so they saw my work and invited me.
Officer : Mr.Miliskovic , You are student in Germany , how do You support Your living expenses there ?
Me : I work part time , earn some money while performing throughout the Europe and my relatives are supporting me from time to time.
Officer : Mr. Miliskovic, Your German visa has been inspired ( while passing through my passport ).
Me : Yes, that was just a temporary visa stick , but I have my residence permit , plastic card , and I showed to her.
Officer : What is the job of Your parents ?
Me : My mother works as a book keeper and my father is a craftsman.
Then she continued passing through my documents , typing something on her desktop and literary within the seconds , when I was again so naive to believe that I am finally eligible, she brought back to me all the papers including my passport and said with no emotions : ‘’ Mr.Miliskovic , I am very sorry but ‘’today’’ You are not eligible for visa’’ !!!
I just said : But why !!?? and she raised her voice and told me :’’ Mister , everything has been explained in the rejection !!! ‘’ ( BTW, the rejection is a plain sheet of paper with already stated reasons of possible rejection ).
I mean, I felt so ashamed and discriminated knowing that some married couple just before me , who applied for touristic visa , easily gotta a permit , claiming they are going to visit NYC and Disneyland. Again completely devastated , I lost again $ 180, 00 , the entire plans of mine I have been planning for nearly 2 years dropped to the water within the few minutes.
For those who never applied for U.S visa, I need to correct up their illusions toward the process claiming that your papers are not being considered and reviewed by some honourable Consul , but it depends only and really only of the current mental conditions of the consular officer working at the moment of Your interview. No addresses , telephone numbers, emails, names, inviters , bank statements, student status or whatsoever plays the role in this hellish process. Also, You are not eligible to complain , You do not have any possibilities to do so, not even engaging the Lawyer is an option. There is no telephone service, they don’t answer on their email for those matters , under any circumstances, They can reject You for literary any reason and it’s not that this can be insured by collecting enough documents. It might depend of current mental conditions of the consular officer , how you behave in front of them, are you insecure, afraid of being refused, how you look like, do you look like someone who might fit to the schema of possible terrorist and so forth…
I have been usually confronted with some questions from the people who claim that their son or daughter got U.S visa with absolutely no problem , applying via some authorised agencies for so called ‘work&travel’ in the U.S , went there to work as a track drivers or the beach security service for limited period of time 3-6 months and never returned.
Obviously there is no clear rule who gets and who don’t . I even believe that there is some sort of internal agreement by which 10 % of all applicant may get visa and the rest shall be refused for no evident reason. The thing is that you, as an applicant , are so pushed down and unable to complain, literary raped and robbed from the institution and your mouth and hands tied giving you no possibility to confront. In case You dare to do so, the Honourable assistant of the Consul , may put You on the list of BANNED INDIVIDUALS.