How I Got Kicked Out Of Romania

How I Got Kicked Out Of Romania

By |2016-07-01T10:23:08-04:00March 16th, 2015|Personal Stuff, Romania|120 Comments

Romania Residency Visa Refused
Peace, I’m out.

That’s exactly what I yelled…okay, maybe I just mumbled it to myself…fine, I only said it in my head…but regardless, it was said as I left Bucharest last week, right after I discovered that my residency visa had suddenly been refused.

The story actually begins back on March 3rd, just after midnight, when I climbed into a van in the Paharganj neighborhood of Delhi, India and went to the airport. My latest Wander Across India Tour had come to an end and so, it was time for me to head to my next destination.

From India I flew to Dubai, changed planes, and continued on to Bucharest, Romania.

Just as the sun was setting the plane touched down at Bucharest’s Otopeni airport and, once inside, I approached the immigration counter as usual. The officer at the counter swiped my passport, looked at his computer screen for a few moments and then said, “You have residency here, where is your residency card?”. To which I replied, “I was told to pick it up in early March so I’m going to pick up the card tomorrow.

All was good. Through immigration I went. It felt great to be back in this city.

Off to Pick Up My Residency Card…

The following afternoon, I was first in line at the main immigration office in the center of Bucharest when the ‘pick up your visa’ counter opened at 1:30pm. I approached the woman behind the counter, handed over my passport and waited while she typed something into her computer. She soon stopped typing, handed back my passport and, to put it simply, told me that my residency visa had been refused.

I explained that it couldn’t be possible since this very same immigration office had told me to pick up my residency card during the first week of March. It also couldn’t be possible because I followed the exact instructions that the immigration office gave me to apply for and obtain this visa.

But, she just repeated that it had been refused and after digging through a box, she handed me a letter. The letter also stated that my visa had been refused and the reason given was “insufficient reason for me to be granted a residency visa”. A bit vague.

Confused was I, especially since they had just let me into the country the day before by noting that, according to the immigration system at the airport, I had a valid residency visa.

So, there I stood. No residency visa.

Not only that, but without the residency visa, that meant I was now in the country illegally since I was well over the “90 days in any 180 day period” that US citizens are allowed to stay. If I didn’t have residency, I had to leave immediately and not come back.

An Explanation Please…

Before leaving the immigration office, however, I needed to have more information and so, with the assistance of a friend who came down to translate, the immigration officer eventually explained the following:

      1. The decision to refuse my visa was made by a team of high ranking immigration officers that only review certain types of visa applications.
      2. Their reasoning was that, since I was trying to get the residency visa based on my blog and the fact that, by writing about my experiences in the country I would help promote Romania, why couldn’t I just promote Romania from outside the country? Why did I have to actually be in the country to write about it?
      3. If Romania needed a blogger to promote their country, they could just go to the unemployment office in Bucharest and find a blogger there who would be willing to write about it.

That’s why they refused my visa apparently. Needless to say, I left the immigration office with my head down.

Off to Italy…

Luckily, I already had a 6-day trip to Italy planned starting the next day and so, after an evening of unexpectedly having to pack up all of my stuff and mentally preparing myself to leave Romania for much longer than anticipated, I flew to Bologna the next morning at 6:50am. Of course, that was after spending a few minutes at airport immigration explaining my whole story so that they wouldn’t fine me for overstaying my tourist visa. In the end, they let me go since they were the ones that let me into the country in the first place, but they did inform me that I would not be allowed back in for at least 3 months.

I then spent 6 days in Italy – Bologna, Florence and Venice – and despite running on fumes at this point, I managed to have a most excellent time.

Bologna, Italy

As that Italy experience came to an end, though, I realized that I needed a plan, but I wasn’t able to think too clearly. So, out of frustration and sheer exhaustion from the previous week’s events, I booked a flight back to the US to visit some family.

Now I’m in Florida.

It’s all a bit of a blur at this point.

India, Dubai, Bucharest, losing my residency, packing up all my stuff, Bologna, Florence, Venice, a short flight to Frankfurt and then a long flight to Miami.

10 Thoughts From the Past 10 Days

What I do know is that ever since I left Delhi just 10 days ago, a lot has been going through my mind. Here’s some of those thoughts:

      1. It’s all about human beings. I’ll repeat it a million times. The main reason I keep on traveling is not because of the sights I see, but because of the people I meet and the interactions we share. When I left for the airport just after midnight back in Delhi, I was expecting there to be two people in that van, myself and one other person from the group whose flight left at a similar time to mine. However, in a never-before-seen act of tour group solidarity, that van was full! The three remaining people from my group, whose flights home weren’t for another day or two, as well as my good Indian friend, Ajay, who helps me organize these tours, all piled into the van as well. Why? They all wanted to spend as much time together as a group as possible, so why say goodbye at the hotel when we could gain another 45 minutes of hanging out during the ride to the airport? I absolutely loved it. How sweet is that? We had a blast on the ride to the airport and waited until we were right there in front of the airport entrance to say farewell. This is what travel is all about.

Wander Across India group

      2. India baffles me. Every time I’m about to depart India, I feel so ready to leave that land, but about 48 hours later, I already start to miss it dearly again and start looking forward to my next visit. No other country has this effect on me.
      3. Dubai airport is the most incredible location for people watching. While I’m not a huge fan of Dubai itself, its airport is the most diverse place on earth, in my experience, by a long shot. In the two and a half hours I spent there a week and a half ago, there was not a single region of the world that was not represented in the terminal and I was only in the relatively small Terminal 2, which is solely for the budget airline FlyDubai. I sat at a cafe and just watched and watched and watched the people all around me. Loved it.
      4. Anger never helps. Getting frustrated and angry at things you can’t control doesn’t do any good. I’ll admit, I got quite angry when I was told that my residency visa was refused and even though the immigration officer spoke no English, I started arguing anyway (my basic Romanian isn’t good enough to argue in). It was useless of course at that point. It only made me more upset, it made the immigration officer angry and it didn’t help the situation in any way whatsoever.
      5. Wizz Air is not my favorite airline. I’ve now flown this budget airline twice and while their fares can be absurdly low, I really don’t understand why they, like other budget airlines in Europe, refuse to give seat assignments. There is always chaos at the gate as everyone crowds around and fights to get on the plane as quickly as possible and then everyone continues battling each other once on board as they try to get a decent seat. Then, the plane takes off with a group of angry, frustrated people when a simple organizational system at the gate or seat assignments would solve this immediately.
      6. Bologna has the oldest continuously operating university in the world. Never knew that. It was founded in 1088 AD. And walking around this university, with its endless number of majestically historic buildings, as well as an air of education and youth seeping out of the ancient walls, was something special.
      7. Venice, wow! I loved Venice, Italy and I wasn’t expecting that. I really hope I have a chance to spend some significant time there at some point as my short visit wasn’t enough at all. Wandering the tiny lanes in all of the different neighborhoods is something I could do for weeks on end. One of the most surprising destinations of all my travels.

Venice, Italy

      8. Life can really, really, really surprise you. Just when I thought nothing could surprise me, being told I didn’t have the residency visa and then suddenly having to change my plans in less than 24 hours, completely caught me off guard. Definitely wasn’t expecting that at all. Never imagined this would happen.
      9. There’s nothing wrong with surprises. Sometimes our lives need to be shaken up a bit and this experience certainly did that for me. I’m now in a different part of the world with a different mind frame than I was expecting a week ago. Time for some thinking, perhaps some new plans, and maybe even a new direction in life. Who knows where this one surprise will take me? That’s kind of exciting!
      10. I guess I need a new home base.

How’s your week going? Any visa issues you’ve experienced during your travels or do you have any visa questions?


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120 Comments

  1. […] @ Wandering Earl/ Plansify), un blogger care s-a îndrăgostit de România și București, dar căruia i-a fost refuzată viza de ședere și a fost obligat să plece din țară. El a prezentat câteva experiențe din viața lui, precum cea oferită de South Africa Tourism […]

  2. […] @ Wandering Earl/ Plansify), un blogger care s-a îndrăgostit de România și București, dar căruia i-a fost refuzată viza de ședere și a fost obligat să plece din țară. El a prezentat câteva experiențe din viața lui, precum cea oferită de South Africa Tourism […]

  3. […] in charge ever cared about making the city one that people travel to year after year. So much for Romania not needing bloggers to promote the country abroad. *end of mini […]

  4. […] I recently read the opinion of a rather prolific traveler in regards to how culturally diverse the Dubai airport […]

  5. […] 3. Daca Romania ar avea nevoie de un blogger care sa promoveze tara, atunci si ei ar putea foarte bine sa se duca la oficiul pentru somaj si sa caute un blogger disponibil pentru asa ceva”, sunt experientele relatate de Earl pe blogul sau. […]

  6. Duck.ee March 18, 2015 at 9:32 am

    As a Romanian, I would like to express my support towards all Romanians out there suffering from terrible humiliation when getting a US visa: I’m really sorry for you, I’m sure there are support groups that you can address or maybe “Humiliated Anonymous”…or maybe therapy will help if not.
    This is ridiculous!
    I would really like to hear more details about the humiliation methods. No, really! Because I applied three times for different US visas and got it every time. Went indeed with a 3cm-thick file of documents but they never wanted to see any of it. Being naive, I actually offered to show them. The guy just said “no”. I applied online, paid my fee, chose the day and time of the interview, went there, got a numbered ticket, waited (seated!), went twice to the counter, answered 4-5 questions and that was it.
    I honestly think that most of the ones who mentioned “humiliation” as the theme behind getting a US visa either talk from rumors or maybe from neighbors’ stories from the 90s. I would love to hear a more detailed example.

    Now…let’s talk about how things go when you deal with the Romanian authorities, shall we? Our own people. No matter the reason. How about that for humiliation??? You got it all wrong: it’s your own people that are humiliating you, not the US…
    I’m by no means pro US but I just get furious when I see so much hypocrisy and this “victim complex” that so many Romanians suffer from.
    And, in the end, what does this have to do with the story anyway? Grow up, people!

  7. Bucharest Life March 18, 2015 at 3:01 am

    Get yourself a job with a Romanian company or – what most Americans I know do – set up your own Srl. Easily done. You could also marry a local of course. Otherwise no, you will not get a residence permit. That’s not how it should be of course; Romania should welcome all immigrants: American, Somalian, Syrian or British, but rules is rules.

    • Wandering Earl March 18, 2015 at 3:04 am

      Actually, that’s not necessarily true. I did receive a Romanian residency permit back in 2013. I actually had a meeting with Romanian immigration officials who explained to me exactly what I needed to do in order to get a residency visa as a blogger. I followed their instructions and got the residency visa no problem. This time, I followed their instructions again, was told I had the visa and the it was somehow refused afterwards. There are many foreigners living in Romania who have used this “Other” category, which is the category I was told to apply for by immigration, to get their residency visa.

  8. Clelia March 18, 2015 at 1:42 am

    I wasn’t planning on commenting on this post as I’m sure this turn on the events happened for a good reason, and you’ll make the most out of it as usual.

    I decided to leave a few words after reading some of the comments from Romanian people being pleased that your application was refused… I was honestly puzzled.

    It doesn’t do any good to be happy for something like this, only because some of the Romanian people had to go through a humiliation process when trying to apply for a US Visa. As Earl said, you can’t compare the two countries (Italy has the same policy on immigrants and there is a massive debate on how to deal with this. A debate that literally divides the country in 2 factions, but I’m digressing now).

    All I want to say is that during my travels, I sometimes had conversations with people from less fortunate countries in terms of Visa approval (like the Philippines, Bangladesh, Iran and many others), and in a few occasions I received bitter/sarcastic remarks on how lucky I am to be Italian or even worst, smiles of approval when the immigration officer treats me badly and tries to use his power to “scare” me for no reason (It happened a few times, but everything went smooth in the end). I guess some people find that using their power to treat people badly is a fun activity, and I actually feel sorry for them.

    Luckily, these are rare exceptions, and I’m really surprised at some of the comments in here, as the reasons why Earl was not given the residency were a bit ridiculous, and I think that his staying in Romania would have done a big service to the nation (and how it is sometimes considered “badly” by the rest of the world).
    My two cents. Good luck Earl, looking forward to hearing about your next adventures and where it might lead you this time.

    Life is indeed unpredictable. But I agree with you, that’s maybe the best part of it.

    • Wandering Earl March 18, 2015 at 3:07 am

      Hey Clelia – Thanks for the comment and it’s all a bit absurd some of these comments, especially since I never even complain the post. It’s fine with me, I applied, was refused and so I left, no big deal. And you are very correct that you can’t compare two countries in terms of their immigration policies…it’s not a reasonable argument at all to do so.

      Anyway, I appreciate your well-thought-out comment and here’s to more adventures in the future!

  9. Gustavo March 17, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    Hey! Well at least you had the chance to know Florence, but why you didn’t talk about it? You didn’t like it? I don’t reall like Venice, hehe.
    Maybe it’s just some time to relax.
    Hope you can return there.

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 10:50 pm

      Hey Gustavo – Don’t worry, I thoroughly enjoyed Florence as well!

  10. Katie March 17, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    Wow I bet that was a shock! I guess the Universe is telling you it is time for a change 🙂

  11. Elena March 17, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    As someone who needs visas almost anywhere and who had a lot of hustle with residency application within EU – the official reasoning seems pretty clear to me. You have to provide irresistibly strong reasoning (and quite a lot of $ on your account, along with all sort of other supporting docs) to settle in most countries in the world for over 3 months at a time (or any other amount of days they allow you to stay w/o obtaining resident status). South-East Asia, South/Central America countries are an exception, plus Work-Travel visa programs in Au, NZ, CA and some other countries for US passport holders I believe.

    I’m sorry to hear that it came such a surprise and I hope you can find a new home base pretty soon and have amazing adventures in the meantime.

  12. diana March 17, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Since one of my American friends went trough that I can tell you that having an attorney helps a lot.

  13. Calatoare - 6 - Lipa Lipa March 17, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    […] Povestea lui aici. […]

  14. ruby March 17, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    The reason they gave for refusing your visa was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard! Leave it to a mid-level government official to come up with it.

  15. L. March 17, 2015 at 11:29 am

    I’m a romanian. I totally understand your thoughts regarding WizzAir and I feel the same way. Regarding the fact that your visa for Romania was refused… it seems to me that this happened due to the incompetence of some guys from the huge bureaucratic system from my country. It happens sometimes, especially when you’re dealing with the employees from the public sector. This time, it happened to you – which is unfortunate. For us, the taxpayers from over here, this is even more frustrating sometimes – because after all the employees from the public sector are getting paid from our tax money.
    There is – however – something that you could have done (and as far as I see in your article, you haven’t done it). You could have called your embassy. They’re usually more careful with their own citizens in matters like this one. I’m not saying this would have resolved your problem. I’m just saying that it would have been worth to try this too, before leaving.
    Anyway, I hope you will return one day. My country has lots and lots of beautiful things to offer. And indeed, it’s all about human beings.

  16. Radu March 17, 2015 at 9:24 am

    Immigration officers are the same regardless of their country of origin. I am Romanian and my working permit in Switzerland was rejected because “the salary was too low”. Needless to say that the salary was actually bigger than some of my European peers.

    If I were to guess, I think they just have a percentage of refused files they need to fill.

  17. Liv March 17, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Romania’s loss, Earl!

  18. De'Jav March 17, 2015 at 8:18 am

    The who visa thing sucks needless to say. Being a traveler though thinking on your feet were about to develop a short term solution going somewhere else then regrouping. So what’s on the cards next?

  19. Jo (The Blonde) March 17, 2015 at 8:03 am

    I hate any kind of visa regulations. I get so nervous when I have to renew my visa here, in Thailand. Immigration offices scare me.
    The reason they gave you for refusing the visa is so silly!

  20. […] de trei luni în Asia și nu s-ar mai fi întors de atunci, călătorind în peste 85 de țări, scrie pe blogul său de travelling că a vizitat din nou România la începutul lui martie. Deși obținuse card de […]

  21. Vicus March 17, 2015 at 5:32 am

    Well, Earl, as an EMPLOYED IT professional, travelling to USA for business purposes, I gotta say, I waited for a day in the US embassy to get the Visa. And US Embassy really takes seriously all visa requests. Not sure they allow unemployed individuals with no clear plans to stick around USA (maybe other than border jumpers). So I don’t really understand why any other country should have a different approach? Try Sweden or Switzerland.
    Other than that, thanks for promoting our country! Would be nice to see that visa is not required anymore for Americans and Romanians.

    • Garoto1973 March 17, 2015 at 9:42 am

      I agree. Unfortunately he took the same medicine thousands of well meanening inmigrants take in the US. Actually its refreshing that having an US passport doent guarantee automatic entry or stay in a country. There are many lunatics of any nationality out there! Of course I dont mean Earl and I wish him well maybe you can drop by sunny Costa Rica sometime?

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 10:53 pm

      Hey Vicus – Well, that’s not so bad. I waited 3 days in line at the Romanian immigration office to apply 🙂

      Also, what the US does has nothing to do with this in the end. There really isn’t a long line of people waiting to get into Romania so that they can stay forever illegally. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people that want to come to the US and not leave which is why it is stricter. You can’t really compare the two countries on that front.

      And I’ll be back to Romania I’m sure. It’s still one of my favorite countries on the planet!

      • stationary Edward March 18, 2015 at 2:34 am

        Actullay Earl, there IS a long line of people waiting to get into Romania so they can stay forever ilegally – it’s just that you didn’t saw them.

        • Wandering Earl March 18, 2015 at 3:04 am

          That would be relative. There definitely is not nearly as long of a line of people as you’ll find wanting to get into the US.

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:34 pm

      Hey Vicus – It was my pleasure promoting your country. I still consider it one of my favorites that I’ve ever been to!

      As for the visa, I waited 3 days in line to apply for my Romanian visa, much longer than one day at the US Embassy! Also, I have unemployed Romanian friends who did get a visa for the US without any hassle at all. They didn’t have to show any paperwork, only had to answer a couple of quick questions.

  22. Julia March 17, 2015 at 3:18 am

    Eek, not good. The reason you was refused is one thing but the fact you were allowed into the country to be then told that…oh, I could have been reading your story and swapped ‘Romania’ for ‘Turkey.’

    Hope you can find a new home base soon…or convince Romania you are a worthy resident.

  23. South America Traveller March 17, 2015 at 2:27 am

    Well, getting kicked out of a country is certainly something all hardened travelers might have to go through. Hey, at least it’s a good experience and good story if nothing else!

  24. Brooke March 17, 2015 at 1:11 am

    I’m curious – since you had clearly overstayed your 90 days in the Schengen, how were you able to then spend a week in Italy? Did you have any trouble entering or leaving that country?

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 10:56 pm

      Hey Brooke – Romania isn’t in the Schengen.

      • Paradox Romania March 17, 2015 at 11:39 pm

        Earl,

        You have no idea what you are talking about. Romania has been in negotiations with Brussels and is close to being in Schengen. You can–and will–be banned from the EU without a visa in Schengen.

        • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:50 pm

          Put very simply, “The above Annex II nationals can also enter Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania without a visa for a maximum of 90 days in a 180 day period in each of these countries. The visa-free time restrictions for each of these countries is calculated separately (as well as being separate to the Schengen Area visa-free time restriction).”

  25. Ion March 17, 2015 at 1:03 am

    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?

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 10:58 pm

      Hey Ion – This comparison makes no sense. You can’t compare two countries. You don’t have a ton of people from around the world who want to come to your country to stay forever. Simple as that. There’s a reason why certain countries are more strict than others. As for the ‘pile of papers’ I beg to differ. Everyone I know (10+ friends) in Romanian received a US visa (10 year visa) without any hassle at all. They didn’t have to show their paperwork, they barely had an interview (a few questions at the counter) and that was it. Not one that I’ve asked has said they felt humiliated. They actually said it was a very smooth and easy process.

    • Jk March 18, 2015 at 3:00 am

      Ion, we’re never refused entry, but staying over 90 days can be difficult. The days of leaving the country for a couple days coming back for 90 more are gone.

  26. Brian Hill March 16, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    Earl, the world is your home base! Brian.

  27. Sam March 16, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    Hey Earl,
    Have you considered trying to get residency in India since you love it there?
    What about having your tours based out of India and setting up shop with your friend Ajay to get a business visa/residency?
    Maybe it’s time to do something different.

  28. Mik March 16, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    Unbelieveable what the bureaucrat funariots did to you, SHAME ON THEM…
    an idea would be, if you still consider that part of the globe – to cross the Carpathians and buy a cheap countryside house for a couple thousand. With the house on your name they would be obligated to grant you indefinite residency…

  29. Mihai March 16, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    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?

    As for some people commenting here about “Romanians don’t know travel” and stuff, please don’t label all of us because some idiots, ok? Thank you.

    • Paradox Romania March 17, 2015 at 8:43 pm

      Mihai,

      My Romanian girlfriend easily applied and was granted a 10 year visa to the USA. It’s not that hard. $160 fee and a 5 minute interview at the US Embassy here and we were off to New York.

  30. The chameleon traveller March 16, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    Wow. This all sounds just brilliant. They say that sometimes life needs to shake you up to get you where you should be heading, so enjoy the journey, as always.

  31. Dorothea March 16, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    My God, I cannot believe what happened. And most importantly… the reasons they gave. The reasons are absurd (and so, so sad).

  32. Aleta March 16, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    That is really too bad Earl.. wow.. still can’t believe it … i am sorry it happened to you in Romania ..
    I can so relate to your comment about India.. I miss it before i even land back at home base.. which for me is south Florida… (i would love to meet you)
    I think the same about Dubai.. the airport is probably the best place in that country.. for people watching ..
    I will be waiting to read your next blog..
    All good things ..

  33. Gordon March 16, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Hello Earl,

    Don’t tell me that was your first ever visit to Venice? Is that possible? Arriving in Venice on a beautiful day (as I did, in the springtime) is one of the most spectacular travel destinations in the world.

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:01 pm

      Hey Gordon – Indeed it was my first visit. Won’t be my last though.

  34. Elena March 16, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    I’m very sorry and I feel very ashamed about what happened to you in Romania. As a fellow wanderer, I know how frustrating that can be.
    Unfortunately, Romanian authorities still live in the communist era. I know, because I am a Romanian. They try to create as many troubles as possible, that makes them feel powerful. That is why so many leave Romania. Disgusted, betrayed, disappointed.
    I love my country, but the people that make the decisions, at all levels, are 99% a plague. Just like the church and the clerics (sorry about the church comment, I couldn’t help it 😛 )

    • Til March 17, 2015 at 2:49 am

      Did you ever apply for an American visa, Elena? Try that one and then talk about frustration, humiliation and disappointment.

      And Earl, I bet the immigration officer speaks English. 🙂 He just choose not to 😉

      • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 10:55 pm

        Hey Til – Actually, the officer did not speak any English. I’m quite certain of that. She had to call someone else down at one point who spoke a little. Also, for the American visa, it’s really not so difficult. I have at least 10 Romanian friends who got the visa without any hassle at all…they didn’t have to show any paperwork and their interview was a few minutes at a counter, barely any questions asked. And some of these people didn’t even have jobs.

  35. Nigel March 16, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    Hey Earl! Sorry to hear about your visa issues. Yes I had a problem when I was in India last year. I was doing an internship with an NGO so I had an employment Visa. I was initially told at the start of my internship it would cost $80 if I wanted to extend but then I went to the immigration office and was told it would cost $400! I then traveled to delhi to confirm with ANOTHER office and they confirmed the price. So I had to leave within a week cos my current visa was about to expire.

  36. dan March 16, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    dude, why were you worried of being illegally in romania since you have just arrived one day prior to the unpleasant event? why do you need residency visa to write about our country? ok, maybe 90 days are not enough and you really want to stay a longer period between locals but, like alex said and i totally agree with him, you can not expect to be granted permanent residency in any country you write about. be serious!
    i am pretty sure that being an american you obviously don’t know how is to get through a visa process for the United States, and i’m talking about tourist visa, not residency, but let me tell you this, the fact that the romanian office bothered to give you even just few justification for their decision makes them very gentle and polite.

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:04 pm

      Hey Dan – I actually received a Romanian residency visa back in 2013, so you can get a visa that way. There is an ‘other’ category of residency visa in your country and after having a meeting with your immigration officers, they told me exactly what I should do, as a blogger, to get the residency. I followed their instructions and received the visa back in 2013. So there you go.

      Also, many countries have a ‘freelance visa’ available where people like bloggers and others who work online can get a visa to stay there. Finally, i wasn’t looking for permanent residency…I was only looking for temporary residency 🙂

      Finally, finally…it’s not so difficult for Romanians to get a US visa 🙂 All of my Romanian friends who applied received the visa without any hassle at all, without showing paperwork, without having a real interview. And some of these people didn’t have any jobs. And they received a 10 year tourist visa. Not so hard.

  37. Carlos March 16, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    The mysteries if immigration offices. Don’t read too much into it or beat yourself up over it.

    Can you reapply later on with a different strategy?

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:05 pm

      Hey Carlos – Don’t worry, I’m not upset by it at all. Seems like some Romanian commenters here turned it into a bigger deal than I did 🙂 And yes, I can always reapply for a different category at some point.

  38. Belind March 16, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Gutted for you, Earl! I am in no doubt though that there’s something exciting in store for you instead!

    PS. Agreed on Dubai airport! Fascinating!

  39. Daniel March 16, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    ok, I am a Romanian and hearing your story made me feel proud of my government and,also, it made me feel proud because I am a Romanian. (Well to be sincere you are not the first american to be expelled from Romania…. )
    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.

    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, but, if you do provide the evidence of your income, you’ll have to pay the taxes like all of us (which btw are about 50% of your income) – and please do provide the evidence of your income, if you pay taxes here in Romania you are most welcome.

    Last but not least, we Romanians, work hard, pay our taxes, send our children to school and universities to educate them, take care of our old folks …. Yes, we are not the richest people in the world, but we are proud people, and with all the misery and dust around us, we work hard every day to overcome our misfortunes, we don’t need you here, because you cannot contribute to our economy the way our Engineers, Doctors, Teachers, Economists and many other professionals do, to be more concise we don’t need a self-conceited, arrogant american.

    So, please, leave us, go to your sunny Texas and impress people there, leave us we don’t need you….

  40. Mark March 16, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Yup, had a visa issue today in Bangkok, arrive from Hanoi this AM only to be told my visa had run out February 4th! I explained that I had a double entry and that the expiry date he was looking at was for the first entry? He said no and I politly asked to see his supervisor, at which point he just stamped my passport, and handed it back to me?
    I’m pretty sure I’m in the right but for a few seconds I thougth it was going to cost me!
    Shitty for you Earl, sorry to hear about your cercimanstance. Your mom’s probably happy though

  41. Alex March 16, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Sad but true.
    I mean really, you really expected a residency visa just because you promote Romania on a blog? The immigration officer was right – we have enough bloggers, thank you!
    I really cannot think of a country willing to issue you a residence visa for your motives and purposes.
    As for the US….I am laughing very, very loud! And I bet they will laugh it to my face if I were to ask a residence visa to the US just because I’m a blogger and I will promote the US :)).
    Romania is by no means Germany, but it isn’t Zimbabwe either. We expect you to come visit again on a tourist visa.
    Please don’t take it personally and try to think for 2 seconds when things cool down.
    Best of luck!

    • Carolyn James March 16, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      Let’s see, how many people follow Earl’s blog already right now?

    • Duck.ee March 16, 2015 at 8:33 pm

      Actually, if you read through his older posts you’ll see that the same country issued him a residency visa a while ago so …think again! I’m pretty sure that if he got it the first time he went through the same legal steps…
      And please, as from one Romanian to another, spare us with this overemphasized (and ridiculous) sense of pride “Romania is by no means Germany, but it isn’t Zimbabwe either”…No disrespect towards Zimbabwe but probably their officials would be able to come up with a better, more professional answer than the Romanian ones did. Probably in English too.

      • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 10:59 pm

        Thanks for pointing that out about the previous residency visa I received!

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:06 pm

      Hey Alex – I know of one country – Romania. Back in 2013 I did receive a residency visa based on this for your country. And the reason I received that visa is because I had an audience with the immigration officials and they told me exactly what to do to get the visa as a blogger 🙂 So there you go.

  42. Mark Mercer March 16, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Sorry about the residency denial. Their reasons are hilariously wrongheaded in some ways. But as somebody in the residency process in another country, I do somewhat get why. My new country, Uruguay, started refusing residency a few years ago to people who just want a “base”, as opposed to living in the country more or less permanently. Many other countries may be starting to crack down on the “residency of convenience” type of easy access, in part due to the excessive hype of the “expat-industrial complex”. I know that now, here, you better actually have an ongoing place to live even before you apply for residency – they really no longer want the “fly in, do paperwork, come here sometimes” types.

    Add to that, many countries still don’t get the concept of freelance, online, digital-nomads type income, and the denial does make some sense. Even though they were stupid to do it given your influence in the travel, blogging, and expat worlds.

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:07 pm

      Hey Mark – It’s alright, doesn’t bother me much at all. It happens. I actually had a residency permit from Romania in 2013 for being a blogger…based on the instructions that the immigration office there gave to me on how to apply. For some reason, they just said no this time. No big deal though. Just thought it would be a good story 🙂

  43. Aleah | SolitaryWanderer.com March 16, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    “why couldn’t I just promote Romania from outside the country?” This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. They should even thank you for promoting their country for free!

  44. Ioan Mihai March 16, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Oh man! I am sorry for what happen and I kinda feel ashamed by this situation. If you ever come back to Romania (Bucharest) let me know. Like your said, it’s all about the people. Your event here will sadly create some fights, but this is good. Maybe out “key shitty people” will get smarter after this.

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:08 pm

      Hey Ioan – Thanks for that. It seems that the fights were created by some commenters on here. I’m okay with it all, just wanted to tell the story.

  45. Kim March 16, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    What part of Florida are you visiting? I’d like to buy you a beer or three. You’ve had a rough couple of weeks!

  46. Judy McLarty March 16, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Holy smoke! A big shock for you. And yet, you are able to write such a detailed, nuanced, fascinating and entertaining piece. Sounds like Romania cut off its nose to spite its face. From the replies to your post, it seems you had already done much service to Romania by introducing the country to so many travelers who may otherwise never have visited, and it sounds like many were attending some sort of travel event in Romania, partially to meet you! So ROMANIA, you do NOT understand what you have done – you have rejected one of your country’s biggest, international boosters. I too LOVED Venice – wandering the alleyways and bridges, canals and cafes. Italy calls my heart. I’ve collected some amazing ceramic pieces made in Sicily that take me back there every time I look at them. My last trip was to Rome and the Amalfi Coast – the land of Limoncello and gorgeous hill towns stacked up beside the sea. Can hardly wait to hear your next move. Cheers and all the BEST!

    • Pop March 17, 2015 at 12:36 am

      I’ts all about the people. Not Romania kicked him out. Just some frustrated employees. I’m a Romanian and I had similar experience in other country. You cannot blame a whole country for some individuals actions. Is just not fair to be labeled luke that. Sorry, but I couldn’t help myself.

  47. Karen McCann March 16, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Romania has no idea what it just lost by kicking you out. It’s a sad day for a country that could use positive press. Good luck with your continued search for a home base!

  48. Matthew Maggy March 16, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    When I read this I knew exactly what you were feeling when faced with this information: the heart drop. That feeling that you get when something that you took for granted, but is the key to your plans for the next while all of the sudden is gone and your heart sinks down into your belly and feels like a million pounds just before panick and anger set in. My heart goes out to you man.

    I couldn’t believe that response from the visa office! I hope it all works out. Come visit Richmond, VA while you’re here! Good luck.

  49. A Bulgarian March 16, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    I’m sorry to hear about the problems you had with the Romanian residency visa.

    I’ll take the chance to shamelessly promote my own country, Bulgaria. I think you haven’t been to Sofia, the capital city, which is really about the only truly European city in Bulgaria, and there’s a reason why roughly a quarter to a third of Bulgaria’s population lives in Sofia . Bulgaria also is very cheap compared to Western Europe, about as expensive as Romania, and the dollar is really strong right now!

    The only bad thing is that this March has been unexpectedly cold, but it’ll get better soon enough.

    Good luck in your travels!

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:10 pm

      I’ve actually been to Sofia a couple of times, was there for New Years a few months ago! I do enjoy it over there as well!

  50. Nomadic Hayward March 16, 2015 at 11:50 am

    You’ve got to admit though that the following reason for not letting you in is pretty funny (or at least will be once you’ve calmed down): ” If Romania needed a blogger to promote their country, they could just go to the unemployment office in Bucharest and find a blogger there who would be willing to write about it. ” – Thug life!

    Good luck with your future adventures dood 🙂

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:11 pm

      Don’t worry, it was amusing from the start. I wasn’t too upset. I was angry at first since they had just let me into the country based on having a residency visa. But in the end, it’s no big deal at all, I’ll survive 🙂

  51. yara Coelho March 16, 2015 at 11:22 am

    Oh no….. That was totally unexpected. I’m so sorry you got your residency denied, I know how it feels having visa limitations.

    I’m also really sad because so many people told me I was going to love meeting you in Romania for the travel bloggers conference thing.

    Hang on and think “the Universe” or whatever has different plans for you 🙂 Better ones! “Home” might be somewhere else.

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:11 pm

      Hey Yara – Should be a great conference though! Enjoy yourself over there and I wish I could be there as well!

  52. […] By Wandering Earl […]

  53. Kathleen March 16, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Earl – so sorry to hear you had this happen. I have to say though, you wrote a very entertaining story – the opening lines were so funny and engaging as are many of your posts! Your words of wisdom can pertain to many areas of life – not just travel.
    Have you written a book (or booklets) yet? If not, please do!
    I think of you as a “Rick Steeves” (the travel writer, travel tv show host in US) for the free spirited traveler” – lots of opportunity here should you care to pursue it!
    Wishing you much luck in all future endeavors and please keep us posted!
    Kathleen

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:12 pm

      Hey Kathleen – Thanks for that, glad you enjoyed the post 🙂 And I shall definitely keep you posted with where I end up!

  54. Jamila March 16, 2015 at 11:03 am

    I’ve been flying with wizzair for 8 years and the rush to get a seat annoys me everytime! And Romania never fails to surprise me! What a place! X

  55. Chris March 16, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Unlucky Earl!

    At least you have such a good attitude, you didn’t (at least from what I read) let it make you angry or get you down.

    Happy travels, makes for the best travels…

    Now we (Sarah & I) have to head to a bank in Peru and try to explain why we’re returning a counterfeit note that their ATM dispensed…

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:13 pm

      Hey Chris – Thanks for noticing that, seems like quite a few people missed that point that I didn’t let this situation get me down. I was just trying to tell a story. It’s not really a big deal at all to me. They told me it was refused, I packed my stuff and I left the country…so it goes. On to the next adventure…

      Good luck with that Peruvian bank issue…hope it was resolved easily??!!

  56. Melyssa March 16, 2015 at 10:52 am

    Posts like this is why love your blog. I can’t travel much right now, but I love hearing about your experiences.

  57. Lavinia March 16, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Wow, this is almost unbelievable! As a Romanian resident, I can assure you that your case is not at all singular. In the matter of fact, something similar just happened to me today. Your post came in perfect accordance to this event, actually. Kind of scary.
    I got expelled from my university today on account of not paying my taxes in time, how beautiful is that? It was (and still is) a great shock for me but to be honest, I’m not sad at all. My life just changed 180 degrees with this decision that wasn’t even mine, but I’m determined to make it a good thing in my life.
    I wish you all the best and great fun on your travels, also I hope that Bucharest will be good to you in the future.

    Cheers!

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:14 pm

      Hey Lavinia – Sorry to hear about that! The key is to stay positive and just welcome the next stage of life, wherever it takes you. Of course, if you can do something to get back into school, that might work as well but either way, stay positive!

  58. Adriana March 16, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Sorry to hear this story! I am a romanian, living in Madrid. Unfortunatelly some of the people in key position don’t understand basic things, like you promoting dor free a country, bringing in tourists and implicit money, all for free…hope this will not make you to mad on Romania, always remember the great people and places. I’m sure there were lots of them. Let me know in case you get around Madrid, could share some romanian hospitality abroad! All the best

  59. Helen March 16, 2015 at 10:39 am

    I am gutted for you Earl, your descriptions of Romania have made me want to go there to see it for myself so you were obviously doing well at promoting Romania as a destination, if only the authorities could have realised that… So short sighted. You will bounce back though, onwards to the next adventure!

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:15 pm

      Thanks Helen!

  60. Geoff March 16, 2015 at 10:38 am

    That sucks Earl! Go for the freelancer visa in the Czech Republic and come live in Prague!

  61. sardar March 16, 2015 at 10:38 am

    come back to iraqi Kurdistan 🙂

  62. Chris March 16, 2015 at 10:30 am

    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. It seems to me that they made the correct decision.

  63. Ford March 16, 2015 at 10:20 am

    Told you man, you were not Wandering enough. This puts you back on the road where you belong.

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:16 pm

      Hey Ford – Ha…maybe so!

  64. Dani March 16, 2015 at 10:17 am

    I love your list and people watching at the airport is my absolute favorite so now I must get to Dubai’s airport. I am a true believer that everything happens at a certain time for a certain reason, I am excited to see where your next home base is! Good luck!!

  65. Debby March 16, 2015 at 10:11 am

    Now that’s a story! Too bad man, I feel sorry for you. I can imagine what that would have felt like, I hope Nicaragua won’t refuse me :’). I like your positivism, on to the next adventure. Good luck!

  66. Mad March 16, 2015 at 10:08 am

    I’m sorry you didn’t get the visa and I want to thank you for your effort in promoting my country. You shouldn’t be that surprised thought, getting a visa is a complicated matter. For example, most Romanians can’t get one for USA, regardless of their status, business, education etc. It’s surprising that this happens between two strategic partners. And what’s worse, we don’t get any explication in return. I hope one day there we will live in a society that would grant us the same freedom birds have 🙂

  67. Carola March 16, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Shoot! So sorry to hear you lost your home base!
    Still, a) luckily there’s the family in ‘merica to pick you up (…emotionally…) and
    b) I second to Raz: maybe it is a sign!
    A good American (travel crazy) friend tells me that Poland is easy to get a residency permit for US citizens to outstay the old 90 in 180.

    I am currently on my way to Italy for a few months. So good to read it’s totally worth it even in it’s most touristic places.

    Happy travels,
    C

  68. Corinne March 16, 2015 at 10:03 am

    Wow! What a story. Sorry. Like you said, though, surprises just help you find something new!

  69. Irina March 16, 2015 at 9:59 am

    Very sorry to hear this, Earl

    Getting one’s visa refused is one of the worst experiences ever.

    Good for you to bring this up though. You know that you don’t need visas for most countries. Imagine what it’s like for people who requires visas for almost all countries even if they want to take a 5-day vacation AND even then there is a chance of refusal if you don’t show enough money or ‘ties to your home country’ like property or kids or marriage. Sucks. I do really feel for you Earl, this is highly upsetting, but imagine if this wouldn’t be an extraordinary occassion for you, but a regular one.

  70. Erick March 16, 2015 at 9:57 am

    DUDE!!!! So you won’t be at the Bucharest event!!!!! Finally meeting up was once of the main reasons I switched my plans. lol. Romania for you man. Love it and hate it.

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:17 pm

      Hey Erick – Nope, won’t be there anymore unfortunately. Sorry about that! We’ll have to meet up elsewhere. Definitely bummed I won’t be attending.

  71. Charles McCool March 16, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Interesting adventure. Glad everything has worked out.

  72. Gigi March 16, 2015 at 9:29 am

    So sorry to hear it! It’s so upsetting to be displaced unexpectedly. I’ve had it happen a couple times now – first when British immigration refused me entry (because the immigration officer had decided randomly that she thought I was trying to move there, even though I’d never been to London before) and the second when I had to move out of my Swiss apartment unexpectedly with just a few days notice. Both left me reeling for months.

    Anyway, I am so sorry to hear it and I sympathize and I hope you’re able to have a little down time to figure out your next move.

  73. Priya March 16, 2015 at 9:25 am

    OK, that sucks. Like, really sucks. But good for you for not letting your anger get the best of you ( I think my anger would have gotten the best of me…).

    I’ve never heard of Wizz Air but I could just picture a group of people fighting for a good seat. And, now, I really want to go to Italy. OK, fine, I’ve always really want to go to Italy.

  74. Tim March 16, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Seems awfully short-sighted on the Romanians’ part. First of all, you already have a following of loyal subscribers, something that doesn’t happen easily or overnight for any new blogger. Secondly, you write well, which in this day of texting and Twitter is becoming more and more rare. And finally, you have the credibility of NOT being employed by the government, so you have a credibility that a government-supported tourism blogger would not.

    Surely, there are more reasonable decision-makers somewhere in Romania. Call their tourism office. Someone there has to know something about marketing, and be able to grease the wheels with the higher-ups.

    Good luck, and if it doesn’t work, I agree with the previous commenter about Lisbon. Went there in February, and can’t wait to go back!

  75. Simona March 16, 2015 at 9:21 am

    I am very very sorry. Is it something I can do in order to help you?

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:18 pm

      Hey Simona – Thanks for the offer but it’s okay. It’s actually not too big of a deal. I just thought it would be a good story…it’s a shame of course but that’s how things go sometimes!

  76. Alex March 16, 2015 at 9:16 am

    I can appreciate your setimate about leaving India. I woke up a couple weeks ago with an email from my tenants saying they were leaving so booked a flight home that day. I felt ready to leave as I always do in India. But as you say here with in a couple of days I missed it and know I will be back sooner than later.

  77. Alex Farca March 16, 2015 at 9:14 am

    “If Romania needed a blogger to promote their country, they could just go to the unemployment office in Bucharest and find a blogger there who would be willing to write about it”

    Idiots, what can I say, sorry for that :(.

  78. Raz March 16, 2015 at 9:13 am

    Wow. Nice story Earl…
    România is def a place where things can happen for no particular reason and even more, with no precise explanation… so far no big deal, it becomes something more particular when this happens with the “authorities”…

    So pardon me for speaking blunt, I’m not sad because of it… maybe it’s a sign?

    What I am very curious about is what is you next home base…

    Share the feelings about Italy, as Venice is such a popular touristy destination, I was expecting to be disappointed and avoided it for a long time but when I finally went I was surprised and then I went again and again… and I would go again

    Greece is also surprisingly beautiful as it is touristic… and especially the islands

    Cheers

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:21 pm

      Hey Raz – Don’t worry, I’m not too sad either. These things happen! As for Venice, I had the same experience…I was expecting it to be more of a ‘circus’ and solely based on tourism but it wasn’t so hard to end up in neighborhoods where there weren’t any tourists around at all. And then the atmosphere in those parts, in those lanes and tiny squares that pop up around a random corner, made me want to just keep on walking forever!

  79. Nina Travels March 16, 2015 at 9:12 am

    Oh waw – I had to read the reasons for not getting a visa two times to believe them. I guess Romanians don’t relly get travel blogging yet.

  80. Luisa March 16, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Give Lisbon a try 🙂 Very dynamic city, with more and more people from different counties arriving and taking residency, good food, great weather, cheap, full os history and truly beautiful!

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:22 pm

      Hey Luisa – Several people have mentioned Lisbon actually, maybe I should check it out again 🙂

  81. Nate March 16, 2015 at 9:03 am

    Dubai airport – reminds me of an old episode of Star Trek – so many distinct cultures and looks.

    Hope you’re well buddy!

    • Wandering Earl March 17, 2015 at 11:23 pm

      Hey Nate – Good analogy there! I’m doing well overall, hope you guys are too!

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