Romanian visa - flowers

Reactions to My Romanian Visa Post (and my response)

Derek Personal Stuff, Romania 135 Comments

Romanian visa - flowers

This is a post I wasn’t expecting to write. But I’m writing it because my last post – the one about having my Romanian residency visa refused – certainly went in an unexpected direction.

Let me recap what that post on Tuesday was all about:

I applied for a 1-year temporary residency visa in Romania, the visa was refused and so I left the country.

That was it.

Yet somehow, a controversy was created. The fascinating part is that the controversy was created, not by myself, but by a few angry commenters who seemed to interpret my post in their own interesting way.

I received nasty comments and emails from people who were bringing up points that, not only were incorrect or just absurd, but had absolutely nothing at all to do with what I wrote in the post.

Let’s take a closer look…

Um, I’m Not Upset

At no time whatsoever in that last post did I state that I was upset right now about my Romanian visa situation. Yes, I did mention my initial anger at being told my visa was rejected after I had already been told it was accepted by immigration. But that anger lasted about 5 minutes. After that, I left the immigration office, packed up my stuff and left the country the next day.

In my post, I didn’t complain, I didn’t say it was a crime that I wasn’t given the visa. I don’t expect anyone to be compassionate about this situation. I don’t blame anyone in Romania or the Romanian government. I never talk negatively about Romania as a country or about the immigration authorities or about anyone at all.

I just told the story of what took place.

Things happen, so it goes, no big deal. I’ll survive just fine. I’m really not too upset about it all.

But it’s incredible to see how fired up people get about things I didn’t even say. It’s as if some were waiting for the first opportunity to express their own anger at something, at life, and I apparently, and inadvertently, provided it. And so I think a few things need discussing at this point…and here’s a good place to start.

Break My Legs? Nice.

For some reason, a few of you got the idea (without knowing me or doing any research on my site at all of course), that I just showed up at the Romanian immigration office and said, “I’m a cool blogger, give me residency.

Well, sorry to disappoint you but that’s far from the case. I followed the rules just like anyone. I actually followed exactly what the Romanian immigration authorities told me to do in order to be granted the residency visa. I stood in line for 3 days to apply for my visa, dealing with complete chaos at the immigration office each day. I purchased health insurance, got my notarized documents, had my proof of accommodation, did everything I was told. Oh well.

So, based on all of this, I really can’t understand why one of you would write this comment:

Ohh, a story so sad, I’m very sorry, when back in Bucharest, let me know, we drink a beer together and after I will break your legs, go back where you came from! 😉 That is for your hypocritical story.

As much as that comment made me laugh, it’s a bit, well, absurd? Immature, maybe? I can certainly understand why you didn’t use your real name when submitting that comment. Good call my friend.

Let’s move on to a couple of the other ‘points’ that some upset commenters brought up, often ever-so-colorfully, in response to my last post.

US Immigration

A few people seemed stuck on the US immigration issue, with such comments as:

Honestly, I am really happy that it happened! It is first time in my life I heard an American was refused a visa to stay in Bucharest. It is a good opportunity to remind you that hundreds of thousands of Romanians have been refused a visa by the US Embassy regardless of their status, business, education etc. Do you know the pile of papers one needs to apply for a visa to the US Embassy? Do you know that US Embassy does not speak to you with regard to the refusal reasons as the Romanian immigration officer did with you? Do you know how humiliated Romanians feel because of that?

Sorry to hear about this but don’t forget the fact that for me, a Romanian, getting a US visa means going to an interview, feeling humiliated, gather a ton of dollars to prove I’m not some homeless and more. Which is why US is out of my travel list for good. So I can’t even get to step on American soil for 1 second. Is a great thing, right?

But, why am I so proud, well first of all because as a Romanian I cannot enter USA without a visa and to get that visa I have to humiliate myself: I have to go to Bucharest (6-8h by train) wait in line for another 5-6 hours, pass an interview (which I am not sure I will be able to pass) and so on…This is just to enter the country, eat a big mac and get out of the country, moreover just to pay for my plane ticket I have to work 3 months on minimum wage here in Romania. In other words, the way US gov. treats Romanians, the same way should Romanian government treat you – to humiliate you.

Okay, wait a minute.

First, this comparison is completely irrelevant to my post and to my situation so those things you said above aren’t really things you wanted to say to me. I have nothing to do with US immigration policy (about as much as you have to do with the Romanian immigration policy) so there’s really no sense in blaming me or bringing that into the discussion. But with that said, I think we’re talking about somewhat different scales here as I have a feeling there are slightly more people that US immigration must deal with than the Romanian immigration. There are reasons the US needs to be stricter. Again, I’m not qualified to discuss immigration policy but I think it’s a bit more complex than countries just trying to humiliate other people.

I’m not saying that it’s fair for those who genuinely want to visit and I’m not saying that Romanians want to go and stay there illegally either. But some commenters made it seem as if the US is picking on Romanians specifically. Sorry, but that’s not the case. Most countries in the world have to go through a visa process to get into the US, that’s just how it goes given the circumstances, which are, again, circumstances that Romania doesn’t face in terms of immigration, hence the difference in procedure.

But, and this is purely for discussion sake since it also doesn’t have to do with my last post at all, let’s talk about the “getting a US visa means going to an interview, feeling humiliated, gather a ton of dollars to prove I’m not some homeless and more” and “In other words, the way US gov. treats Romanians, the same way should Romanian government treat you – to humiliate you” part.

I’m sorry, but that’s not true from the information I’ve received. Perhaps some of you have been rejected for a US tourist visa but out of all the Romanians I’ve met who have applied for a US tourist visa (at least 15 people I’ve talked to now that I think about it), they all:

  • 1. Received the 10 year tourist visa
  • 2. Never had to show much paperwork or bank statements or proof of employment even though they brought that paperwork with them (in fact, some of these people were unemployed when they applied)
  • 3. Had an ‘interview’ that consisted of 2 or 3 quick questions at the counter
  • 4. Were not humiliated in any way at all

In fact, while some might complain about waiting for 5-6 hours in line to get your US visa, let me remind you that I waited for three days to apply for my Romanian visa, three crazy days. So that 1 day isn’t so bad considering the amount of applications they process and from what I hear, it’s quite organized inside the US Embassy, something that the Romanian immigration office is not unfortunately.

This whole ‘humiliation’ thing doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. I really can’t find, and believe me I tried to tonight, someone who had a humiliating or extremely difficult experience when trying to get a US tourist visa. I’m sure some of you will say you did, and that is unfortunate for sure, but it doesn’t seem like all Romanians are having a really tough time with this.

Just Because I Have a Blog?

I mean really, you really expected a residency visa just because you promote Romania on a blog?…I really cannot think of a country willing to issue you a residence visa for your motives and purposes.

Actually, I can think of one. It’s called Romania. As a couple of commenters pointed out on the last post, I was already given a Romanian temporary residency visa in 2012 for these very motives and purposes. In fact, I had a meeting back then with the Romanian immigration officials (they have weekly audiences where you can talk to them and ask questions) and they actually told me exactly what I needed to do to get the visa based on being a blogger. I followed their instructions, which involved a contract with a Romanian organization, and I was given the residency visa. So there you go.

No Intention of Paying Taxes

I don’t know why you are surprised that they did not give a visa to someone who has no intention of paying taxes in the country.

Romania has a category of temporary residency visa called “Other” and this is the category that the immigration officers, during my meeting with them, told me to apply for. This category is used for applicants who want to stay in the country but who will not be working or studying there. It’s for, and I quote from the Romanian immigration website, “Other activities which are not contrary to the Romanian laws“.

So, I followed the rules for that category as instructed by Romanian immigration officials, and applied, again, receiving the visa back in 2012 without any issue. Also, during my meeting with officials, it was brought up that I was a good candidate for the temporary residency visa because I didn’t use any government resources and yet I spend a lot of money in the country.

Another Unemployed Man

Also, by writing a blog, you do not provide sufficient evidence that you can sustain yourself in Romania and another unemployed man to sustain is not what we as Romanians desire.

Fair enough, if I was unemployed. However, I am employed (I run two companies) and I earn a good salary and I was actually told, by the immigration officer, when applying for my visa, that American applicants do not need to show proof of income or any bank statements. I had the statements printed out and ready to hand in but the officer handed them back to me when I applied and said they didn’t need them. If they did look at them, I’m quite certain they would have found the numbers to be more than sufficient evidence that I can sustain myself.

Three Final Notes

  • 1. I didn’t approve every comment that I received on my last post. Those with profanity, those that included threats to either myself or others and those that were just extremely rude were deleted.
  • 2. It’s a bit disappointing how people tend to judge so quickly, to form an opinion based on very little information. And sometimes, this comes from the very same people who like to be judged as individuals themselves and not based on stereotypes. Quite a few people were ready to blurt out their conclusion and to be so nasty about it, without ever asking any questions or taking time to learn more about the situation. It’s unfortunate and a good reminder that there are always more angles to every story than what we initially might think.
  • 3. Without a doubt, I still love Romania, I still think it’s a wonderful destination to visit with so much to offer and I still love the people that I’ve met all over the country. Thank you to every one of you who made my time in your country so rewarding and an absolute highlight of my 15 years of travel…I’m sure I shall see you again!

There you have it. That’s my response to the accidental ‘controversy’ created by my last post. And that’s also the last I’ll talk about it since, once again, it was just a story.

It was just a story about what happened to me this month, nothing more.

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Comments 135

  1. Anita verma

    I read your story. Really quite rude and harsh behavior of immigration officers. sometimes a person feels why to be here. I am an Indian and I am here officially by Indian government to teach in the university along with my husband. I had to face a lot for getting temporary one year visa even though me and my husband both are having official passports. Till now my husband could not get the family reunification visa. He is still in india waiting for visa for last six months. I visited many countries before and till now I have American 10years tourist visa.
    You wrote very well about your sufferings and problems you faced in Romania. Looking forward to read more about you.

  2. Gillian

    I didn’t see the original post, but I want to commend you for such a measured, articulate, and objective report on the controversy that some of your readers created. I guess Americans haven’t cornered the market on snap judgments, rudeness, and trolling. I think these sorts of responses just go to show how quickly some people want to assume the worst of others. I am going to guess the people who responded to you so rudely haven’t done much traveling themselves, since getting to know strangers is the best way to learn that the best that lies within us also lies within others, and we should always give people the benefit of the doubt. In this case, I’m going to give those people who were so rude to you the benefit of the doubt and say that, while there’s no excuse for how they treated you, they must have some particular pain in their lives that makes them strike out that way. I was very moved by this comment above from Liviu, “Maybe 50 years of communism had make ourselves gray on the inside as well as the buildings outside? I hope not.” I hope not too, Liviu. As mystifying as public nastiness is to me, I offer my compassion to those hotheads and hope they one day overcome the suffering that no-doubt plagues them.

  3. Liviu

    Earl, I am Romanian and I found this article after 2 day reading your adventures in Romania. I didn’t expect that. I didn’t expect that your VISA would be refused. And for sure I didn’t expect to hear about some angry comments from Romanian readers. For that, I am sorry.
    You’ve seen a lot of this world and now you are one step closer to understand Romanians as a nation. We do have a wonderful country. We do have wonderful people. And we do have our lowest human empathy sometimes. You said in post few years ago that we do have an certain apathy. Maybe frustration. That is true. Maybe 50 years of communism had make ourselves gray on the inside as well as the buildings outside? I hope not. Well, at least nobody blew himself out yet in Romania and tourists will come anyway, even without a VISA for more than 90 days.

    Next time in Bucharest, give me a sign.
    I’ll provide the beer (Weiss Beer Garden Bucharest), the friends (all of them), the BBQ (mici), a country house (1 hour away), a fishing day (near country house), a drift car (Toyota Soarer) and a huge empty parking lot (Corsarul A1 km30).
    Maybe Romania will make up to you a little.


    PS – You didn’t saw Delta Dunarii yet, so…. 🙂

    1. Post

      Hey Liviu – Thanks for that comment and I will definitely let you know the next time I’m in Bucharest. Would be great to meet up for sure and yes, I really do need to get to the Danube Delta, that I know!

      And the good news about Romania is that those who visit, do love the country. I just finished my latest Wander Across Romania tour the other day and everyone on the trip had such a great time and truly enjoyed every place we visited. This is great news of course and I can only think that more and more foreigners will want to travel there in the near future.

      It really is a country that has everything a person could possibly want/need!

  4. Miro

    My fellow Romanians can get a bit carried away on the internet so I’m not exactly shocked by the comments you received from them.

    Anyhow, I hope you’ll be back soon, my brother and I always talk about how cool it would be to grab a drink with you and maybe share some travel stories.

  5. Ioan_ro

    Love your blog earl!
    Back then i remember, your visa issue articol was linked in a national kind of online tabloid read of course by specific just hate & argue sth consumers. Those people inavded your blog with comments without even reading the full story, having no ideea about your work or of what thrives us here, the passion for tourism. The diplomacy you handled the ackwardness of the situation was indeed that of a high rang experienced polititon :))

  6. George

    You must visit Romania again. You dont know what are you missing. I hope you will visit lovely Transylvania county with faimous Bran Castle (Dracula),stunning Maramures with Meerly Cemetery,briliant Mocanita railway,wood monastery, finest food ever in country side, also you must see Bucovina with painted monastery, no doubt miraculous Danube Delta the wildest place from Europe where you will find wild horses, thousands species of fishes and birds,a unique land in world. You really Must see Macin mountains-the oldest from Europe, Carpathian mountains with thermal water, with the best road in world Transfagarasan highway.
    I hope you try again to take a visa for a long time. Dont worry about the bad comments you should understand about Romania for romanians means a land of all possibilities and opportunities not USA.
    Romania is the best start for every global traveler because of the best prices for Europe it’s coming with the amazing nature, with combination between new and old, capitalism and socialism, a “ugly” bureaucracy , one of five romanians speak english and/or other language, medieval cities like Sibiu, Sighisioara, Brasov, Cluj Napoca as known such as Silicon Valley from Europe, smart, simple and hospitable people.

    I am sure you will have the power to came back and to discover Romania. I am waiting forward to see a post about new journery. One year for see Romania It’s not enough.
    Romania is lifetime journery.

    keep travelling

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey George – Thanks for the comment and don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll be back in Romania. I actually used Romania as my base for 3 years so I’ve been to the country around 30 times and have traveled all over the place. And I’ve loved every experience I had which is why I know I’ll be back again!

  7. Chris

    Sorry to hear there have been others who I can only assume took this opportunity to vent frustration from their own problems on you.

    Very diplomatically handled… happy travels!

  8. Nee

    ‘It’s as if some were waiting for the first opportunity to express their own anger at something, at life, and I apparently, and inadvertently, provided it.’

    Very true. I ve once asked about how to fill in the first and last name for air ticket booking in a forum. I had already stated i was booking for a friend and since her name is a combination of Christian and chinese name, i didn’t know what should i fill up for her first name.

    I got plenty of aggresive replies like “go to a registrar and change your name, idiot”, “since you hated your friend’s name so much, unfriend her”. Yet, all i asked was “what’s to fill in for first name”. Amazing right?

  9. Camy

    Hi Earl,

    I accidentally came across to your blog and found this…..I sincerely apologise for all my silly compatriots! Including for those who didn’t give you the residence permit. Ridiculous.
    Keep travelling and sharing your stories!

    All the best,

  10. Kevin

    Nice post Earl.

    I think the lesson here that people need to learn is, people are not their governments! Almost all governments are FUBR and not worthy of defending, whether you happen to be born on their dirt or not.

    Yes the US government does some ridiculous things to people wanting a visa. In fact the esta visa is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard of- you literally can just be transferring plans, and the dopey government requires some people to get a visa for that 2 hours they are sitting in the airport.

    And the Romanian government is no better. I’ve never been to Romania but I’m sure, based on Earl’s and other posts I’ve read about it, it’s an amazing place filled with amazing people.

    But the government is another story, and I don’t conflate the two.

    Let’s just judge each person as an individual, especially when it comes to Earl simply telling a story. Earl has no more in common with the US bureaucrats stopping people from getting visas than he does the Romanian ones.

    Getting angry about a post like this seems to be to go against the spirit of this blog anyway.

    Keep wandering everyone!

  11. Monica

    Earl, sorry you received nasty comments. Hope you didn’t let any of the nonsense affect you. I appreciate all that you share on your blog. You seem to be very well spoken and your sentiments seemed well thought through before sharing. Best of luck to your endeavors; and I remain a loyal fan to your blog and your business. Never let the negativity bias get the best of you!

  12. K.

    in support of your point about immigration rules: even Canadians, who share a large border with the USA, don’t go through an easy process if they want to work or stay an extended period of time in the USA. Entry (and exit) for short term visiting purposes is decent but can be subject to a full on-the-spot search and investigation at the discretion of the boarder agent (there is even a television show about this). As you mentioned, the volume is quite significant and I think this may be part of why processes are made more elaborate: they want to make sure the high volume doesn’t represent something bad. Anyways Im sad that you had to defend yourself, but i wish you happy travels!

  13. Damon and Jo

    Ouch! This sounds like the typical visa/immigration/customs headache. I can’t think of one time all of it was ever a seamless, fun, and friendly experience! But you go Earl, you show Romania who’s boss!

  14. Rebi Cimpean

    Hello there Earl. I found out about your blog from another romanian blogger who described the reactions you got from my fellow romanians of whom I am ashamed, but not too much since I don’t resemble them at all. Too bad that post is in romanian so you wouldn’t be able to understand it. It is good to see this yucky experience (nicely said) didn’t make you have a negative outlook on the country itself and its people. I’m sure your work brought Romania and the whole world much benefits, everything that comes from sincerity, with honesty, beautiful intent can’t produce anything but goodness in the end.

  15. Rafael

    Earl, you didn’t even have to make this post explaining yourself. not worth the time. like you said, these are just people looking for an excuse to vent their frustrations. You are not a US immigration official and are not accountable for how the US Government deals with visa applications. It is true, applying for a US visa is a nightmare, but I understand why it can be so hard. The US has the worst problems with immigration, so they must be strict. Then again, interviews are pretty random. Sometimes they won’t even look at your papers, other times they will ask for your grandma’s neighbor’s cat’s name. In the end, haters gonna hate, so just keep living the good life! 🙂

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