Visa Problems

[A true story that happened a couple years ago. The names have been changed]

“The first thing I would like to know is how long have you known Sveta?”

John was sitting in the office of a friend named Sergei. His friend had asked him to come to his office early in the morning. Incidentally, John’s visa had expired a couple days before, and “Sveta” was the person who was helping to extend his visa. Sergei has a travel firm and a large part of his business is to help people obtain visas. John would have asked Sergei for help, but thought his office administrator, Sveta, would be able to help.

“I’ve known her for fourteen years. She worked for another organization, and has lately been working for us.”

“OK,” Sergei answered, “I now realize that Sveta is not an evil person trying to have you deported from our country….”

John’s heart dropped into his stomach

“…but a novice who is ignorant of how to work with the OVIR (Office of Visa Registration).”

“So, what did she do? She assured me that everything was fine with my visa, even though my previous visa has expired.”

“John,” my friend said, “Sveta never actually went to the OVIR. She went to another travel agent, who took your passport to the OVIR. She offered a sum of money that was too small, and the OVIR agent refused to extend your visa. Then she went to second travel agent and asked for his help. He came back from OVIR with the same refusal….all in all, John, your visa was submitted to the same officer at OVIR on no less than four occasions. In fact, there is only one officer who deals with the business of visa extension. So, this officer saw your passport at least four times over a few days, and he is wondering, ‘who is this American, John? And why is he giving me a difficult time over this visa extension?'”

John was stunned. “I had trusted Sveta. She assured me that she knew what she was doing, and obviously, she doesn’t. And she has been lying to me…”

Sergei grinned, “John, you have not forgotten which country you are living in have you?”

“…she told me that the visa extension had been approved, but there were no visa stickers in the OVIR.”

“John, your visa has not been approved, and you are in danger of being blacklisted and deported.”

“But don’t worry. I am your friend, and I will help. Sveta came to us in desperation, yesterday, and asked for our help. I will send my wife with Sveta to the OVIR and get this straightened out. And I will charge you nothing for this. Sveta has asked for my help in the past and I have helped her, but I do not trust her judgment, and so I will no longer help her.”

And the next day, Sveta gave John his passport with the extended visa. She mentioned nothing about the ordeal. She just asked him to remember her, next time.

Oh, he’ll remember her, for certain!

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