Blogbox | Visa

Visa struggles, lies and disappointment

By - 06.07.2019

Thoughts from the unwanted corner of Europe.

I need a visa, but I’m so bothered by the entire application procedure and in the end it’s not even certain that you’ll get it. This is the stuff I talk about these days, since my visa has expired and I need to apply for another one. 

The exhausting and time-consuming process, as well as the material expenses, are genuinely making me think twice about applying. But the desire to visit my relatives, or simply to go on holiday, eventually leads me to apply. 

Until now, I’ve gotten visas from the Italian embassy, and I’ve never been rejected. For those visas, which were valid for a few months, I was required to bring a lot of documents, such as proof of employment, a bank statement, the address where I would stay during my visit, and many, many more documents — in addition to having to pay 60 euros for the application. 

She had applied for a one month tourist visa, sent all the necessary documents, including an invitation, and she was rejected.

However, despite the payment and the many documents, the probability of getting rejected is quite high, even for the most minute of reasons. Waiting for the answer is such an unpleasant feeling. You wait outside the main gate of the embassy until the guard calls out your name, and you think to yourself, “I’ve been rejected… or maybe I got the visa,” and the emotional rollercoaster continues until you enter the building to get a definitive answer. 

This situation is discouraging when you consider the fact that all your attempts to get a visa can result in failure. Let alone the cost. It is truly disappointing. 

Although I’ve never been rejected, many other citizens have not been as lucky as I have been. Not only did their visas get rejected, the embassy staff were also disrespectful toward them, even toward elderly people. You hear about bad experiences, from exhausting procedures to eventual rejections, on a daily basis. 

My friend told me about her experience the other day. She applied for a one month tourist visa, sent all the necessary documents, including an invitation, and she was rejected. 

“I was invited by a friend of mine to his wedding in Germany,” she told me. “He stated that I would stay at his place. He is employed and completely legit. I had all the necessary documents and was rejected with the justification that I had no invitation. 

“I didn’t stop there. I sent a complaint to the German Embassy,” she continued. “I attached the invitation to my complaint, the invitation that was in the documents, but I didn’t receive any response for a month, meaning that I was rejected.” 

The continuous problem with visas is also exemplified by another case. Teuta Hoxha-Jahaj, the then director of the Kosovar branch of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, despite having a visa and invitation from high officials in Brussels, had her trip cut short in the airport of Vienna with the justification that she had a single entry Schengen visa. She describes the process of obtaining this visa as exhausting and absurd.

“The process of applying for a visa and going through very absurd procedures is difficult in itself,” she told me during an interview. “The fact that I was invited by institutions in Brussels for a meeting did not facilitate the application process. On the contrary, I still went through the same things. 

“The only facilitation was that the organizer covered the expenses, but it was still uncertain whether I would get the visa,” she said. “This has made for a situation in which the issuing of visas is left to the mercy of the fate of the individual, whereas the submitted documents are irrelevant. Visas also depend on the mood of the embassy staff,” she explained. 

When you see this situation and this treatment, and you consider that we get placed in such a position simply for requesting a visa, and that we remain isolated through no fault of our own, it makes you hope that we might one day enjoy freedom of movement, as it is a fundamental right of all people. 

What we know is that we citizens will continue to wait outside embassies for months to come.

On the other hand, our state officials continue to be the ones to promise us visa liberalization and congratulate us for it. 

It was in 2010 when the prime minister at the time, Hashim Thaçi, promised free movement for our citizens, saying that we would travel toward Europe within 15 months, but this never happened. 

It was in 2016 that we experienced the next visa “victory.” The minister of European integration at the time, Bekim Çollaku, with a champagne bottle at hand, said that Kosovar citizens would go toward Europe within a few weeks, calling it “historic news.” 

These are not the only two cases: we also have Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj who, after his return from the Berlin Summit this year, appeared in a press conference joyfully to announce that he had met the Internal Minister of Germany, and that he received the “Yes” answer for visas. Enthusiastically, the prime minister didn’t hesitate to congratulate the country, saying: “All I can say to Kosovo is — congratulations for liberalization!” 

What we know is that we citizens will continue to wait outside embassies for months to come. On the other hand, any delay in the process is a disappointment for Kosovars, as the only remaining isolated people in Europe.

Feature image: Faton Selani