“Dear Government… I’m going to have a serious talk with you if I ever find anyone to talk to.”

Last night the rains were torrential. When the dog barked and woke me up, I could hear the rain beating on the roof. I called Gracie back upstairs, and she came but was unsettled. She doesn’t mind rain or thunder so I figured she had rung her bells to go out, and I hadn’t heard. The barks were her next hope of waking me. We went downstairs, and I opened the back door. The rain was in sheets and so heavy I could barely see the yard. Gracie poked her head out then right back in again. I insisted she go out, and she did for far longer than I expected. I had translated well Gracie’s barks. When she came inside, she was soaked so I used a towel to dry her. It was 1:30. We both went upstairs. Gracie jumped on the bed and immediately fell asleep. I did not so I started reading and did so for about an hour before I could fall back to sleep. It is still raining but only slightly. Gracie is asleep.

Yesterday Grace, my former student, not to be confused with Gracie, called and said she had been denied a visitor’s visa. I was devastated as I have been so excited about Grace coming to visit in August. For her visa, we had researched everything she needed to bring to the embassy for the interview, including a letter of invitation from me. She even brought a picture of the two of us together plus a deed to her house, copies of her bank account and several other pieces of documentation proving she has ties to Ghana and will return. Not a single piece of all that documentation was read. She was asked a few questions including whether I lived alone and whether she was married. She is and had a letter from her husband supporting her vacation. Visa denied ten minutes later. No reason was given. I am so furious I can’t speak without spitting. I wrote a letter to the embassy with a copy to the State Department visa section, but I suspect that was an exercise in futility. I spent the morning going from US official site to site, made a few phone calls and listened to each menu none of which addressed my need. I’m stymied. We had all our ducks in a row, and the woman at the embassy didn’t care or even notice. I’m not stopping until I find a way for Grace to be heard!

Okay, I feel a bit better for having ranted a bit, but I just don’t get it. We did everything right, and it didn’t matter. Grace and I are but small voices crying in a sea of bureaucracy, and I am bound and gagged by red tape, compliments of the American Embassy in Accra. (Okay I admit those last two might have been a bit over the top!).

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22 Comments on ““Dear Government… I’m going to have a serious talk with you if I ever find anyone to talk to.””

  1. sprite Says:

    Kat, there’s no other way to put it: that totally sucks.

  2. olof1 Says:

    I’m so sorry that she didn’t get a visa! Why couldn’t they at least tell her why? But authorities works in their own way and it’s impossible to understand how and why they act like they do. I’ve always wondered if I would get a visa to the US since I am a consientious objector, I know that has been a problam before.

    26,6F here thios morning and foggy too, I wish I wouldn’t have had to go to work because it was a beautiful morning. But way to coold to be homest. It still feels chilly in my cottage so I will most likely start a radiator or two tonight.

    Keep fighting those authorities!
    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      Petty people in authority seem to thrive by lording it over other people. Grace had everything required and more yet that didn’t matter.

      It has been raining most of the day and only just now stopped. I was glad for all that rain as we really needed it.

      I will keep fighting!

      Have a wonderful evening!

  3. Birgit Says:

    So sorry. This denial doesn’t make any sense, hope you will find a way to revise it. Are workarounds possible? Like a student visa, business visa or a collaboration with the school you worked at or a Peace Corps invitation, anything official they can’t deny? If nothing helps, it’s one more reason you’ll have to visit Ghana again.

    • katry Says:

      Birgit,
      She would have to prove acceptance by a school, but Grace is a retired teacher who is 60. I suspect that would be seen right through by the embassy. I wish there was a way to use Peace Corps to help but there isn’t. PC works the other way: getting visas to countries other than the US. I will probably call my congressman and see if he has any suggestions. He’s good guy.

      I’ll have Grace try again in a month then on to my congressman. I have already sent a copy to the state department though I really don’t expect much. I’m not giving up!

      I did post for help on the PC Ghana volunteer site, but none of the had any suggestions which we could use.

  4. Bob Says:

    Welcome the to wonderful world of bureaucracy. Probably the Department of State has a handbook which sets the policy guidance required to understand and implement the regulation. If there is such a handbook don’t get too excited about its contents because each inspector, or what ever embassy officers are called, can and will interpret the policy guidance according to their own whims. In 1994 I went to Oklahoma City to attend the FAAs designated flight examiner school. This was a three day course that the FAA had crammed into five days. One inspector was pontificating on the regulations when I raised my hand to ask a question. I asked him how he could have completely ignored a clause among a series that refereed back to the subject in a regulation. That particular clause was very ambiguous at best and has since been removed from the regulation. I said that his explanation made no sense. He smiled and replied in his Mississippi drawl that the FAA doesn’t have to make sense because they make policy. The FAA has about 3,300 safety inspectors and I believe that there are at least 3,300 versions of the regulations and the policy guidance 🙂

    Sometimes logic doesn’t apply.

    Today is cloudy and very humid. It feels like I have been transported directly to Houston. Houston is the perspiration capitol of Texas.

    • katry Says:

      Bob,
      Ghana itself is mired in bureaucracy but I expected that. I didn’t expect such an off-handed dismissal for Grace by the US embassy. I read all of the requirements before a visa could be given, and Grace met them all and had copies of everything they requested plus more. We made sure of that before she even went to the embassy.

      Sadly you are right about logic not applying!

      Chilly and rainy all day today, but I didn’t mind. The chill felt good and the rain was needed.

      • Bob Says:

        Maybe she should return on a different day to the US Embassy. She isn’t traveling until August. A different officer and maybe a better outcome.

      • katry Says:

        Thanks, Bob, that’s what I’m hoping. Knowing Grace she didn’t present the papers she had but just answered the questions. I’m going to coach her a bit about the start of the interview and have her begin by handing the supporting documents to the consular officer.

  5. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    Well, that sucks. Definitely sucks.
    All you can do is to keep trying to find a real human to speak to. I hope Grace gets an answer but a visa would be much better.

    It’s murky up here again. No pouring rain. Just odd droplets that fall in a desultory fashion and don’t even get anything wet. It’s like the weather is bored. 🙂

    I noticed more tiny grass plants growing where I threw down seed. I feel so horticultural. 😀

    Enjoy the rest of the day.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      It most decidedly sucks!

      I will keep trying and have Grace continue to assail the embassy. I’m a great letter writer and I’ll be glad to compose and compose!

      We had heavy rain earlier but it has stopped. I think we’re supposed to have more later, and the weather is supposed to get colder.

      You are a true gardener!!

      Have a great evening!!

      • Caryn Says:

        I had another thought. Well two thoughts. The London terrorist attack has Nigerian connections and that might have something to do with it. Nigeria is not Ghana but hey…we’re Americans and we don’t know geography. 🙂
        Also, when you listen to a menu that doesn’t include an option that addresses your issue just start yelling into the phone that you want to talk to a human. Sometimes one will answer. I have had to do that with BofA when the menu was giving me things like “If you want blank press 12”. Twelve?!?!? Seriously? Not #12 or *12? Nope. 12. Of course, as soon as I hit the 1, it went to option 1. Quelle surprise. 🙂

      • katry Says:

        Caryn,
        I can’t think that Ghana would be compared at all to Nigeria. The US has enjoyed nothing but wonderful a wonderful relationship with Ghana. The President was there in 2009 and even did a bit of touring. Peace Corps has been there longer than in any other country.

        I haven’t called but I sent a letter to the consul in charge of non-immigration visas. I suspect, though, that it might never be read. Grace’s experience was cursory at best.

        Have a great evening!

  6. im6 Says:

    I’ve read (and it’s worked for businesses) that if you wish to bypass all those menus, press “0”. Continuously. That usually gets me a recording that my call is being transferred to a service representative… and I usually am. Once you get a person, be super super super nice and that seems to help. But I’m sure you know that. Good luck!

    • katry Says:

      im6,
      If I call, I’ll remember the pressing of 0 until my finger hurts.

      I always got what I needed in Ghana, like a visa to Togo, when no one else got one. It was the same with a re-admit permit. I knew exactly how to smooth talk to get what I wanted.

  7. minicapt Says:

    You should not have mentioned the Tea Party you planned to host during her visit.

    Cheers


  8. I’m wondering if a bit of dash might have been expected somewhere in the process as is common in some African countries. It might be that simple, as terrible as it is.

    We are always one day behind you in our weather. Because I read you early morning the day after you write it always seems like you are describing my weather at the time. It is raining for the weekend here.

    • katry Says:

      Cuidado,
      I never had to dash anyone in Accra, in the Ghanaian government for anything having to do with my passport, but everyone else was always open to a little money, especially police. Some even had the nerve to ask for a dash. I think the US embassy is one of the no dash spots. That’s a job killer in places like that.

      Thanks, anyway, for the suggestion. Most places that would work!

      Raining until Monday here.

  9. Erin Says:

    She should try again on a different day when a different official might be there. It’s all so subjective. I’m so sorry to Kat!

    • katry Says:

      Thanks, Erin,

      Grace called this morning and we planned another try at the visa. I gave her an approach where she thrusts, gently of course, all her documentation and names each one as she puts it on the desk. I also wrote a letter to the embassy. We’ll give it three weeks or so before we try again.


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