Three American cultural beliefs I hold led me to a wrong conclusion that I recently became aware of through our friend Gabi’s experience.
- If you want to sneak in or out of the U.S., Canada is your best staging ground.
- If you want to sneak in and find work, come from Mexico where it’s easy.
- If you want to study in the U.S. it must be easy, given the high numbers of foreign professors I had in college.
From all this I had the impression that getting into the U.S. was relatively easy. Nothing could be further from the truth – at least if you try coming in the front door.
Our friend, Gabi, subjected herself to more intense personal scrutiny than a bank would require for a large home mortgage – only to be denied a visa to come to the U.S. as a tourist. This has also been the experience of our language teacher.
I suppose that is a very natural reaction for a country to have after sustaining an attack on your own soil by foreign invaders who obtained visas.
Nevertheless I have learned that the visa process for any country is not so much about a country’s willingness to allow people in as much as it is the means of keeping people out.
Our visit today to the Hungarian Immigration Office for application for a visa to stay another year came on the same day as Gabi’s news. It put the relative inconvenience and expense of obtaining a residence permit into better perspective knowing this.