Visas… Passports… and American Ignorance

First off, a huge apology. Man I tell you I’ve been slacking on these blog posts. I’ve been so busy thoroughly Effing the 24-7, that I haven’t had much time to write. But back at it today!

Since my last post there have been 4 more trips to Costa Rica, Denver for a baseball game, a trip out west to Phoenix, the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree and Laguna Beach, a short trip to Vegas, a run back home to Michigan for my favorite classic car show of the year, the Wildwood Music Festival in Atlanta, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Pittsburgh for a baseball game, Panama, and finally a nice run out to Seattle with my dad and uncle for my final baseball park. I finally did it. All 30 parks!. A goal I set when I was 18. All of that is to say there is lots to catch up on in the coming weeks!

Stay tuned!

PASSPORTS AND VISAS – DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE?

The conversation usually goes something like this:

Person: When is Gabriela coming to visit the states?

Me: She would like to, but was denied her Visa.

Person: Oh that stinks, does she have a passport?

Me: Yes.

Person: Well why doesn’t she just visit??

Confused Dog

My initial response was just a quick explanation – no worries. Then the 2nd, 3rd and 4th times this happened, the frustration grew. At this point I’ve had to explain the difference to at least 15 people. The poor person who was the last to ask, gets the built up frustration of all the others. I need to work on that. 

I have a pretty diverse, well educated, group of friends. Some are even pretty well traveled. But even they didn’t know the difference.

Why?

I’M ‘MERICAN, LET ME IN!!

Why? Because we are from the United States. We can go damn near anywhere we want in this world without first applying for a visa to that country. We just show up at the airport with our ‘Merica trucker cap on and they let us in. But that little stamp you get in your passport, most of the time, IS your visa. It’s your “ticket” to enter said country. Your passport is just your identification. 

There are a few exceptions to this if you are a US citizen. The following countries can be difficult to get in to:

  • Iran
  • Saudi Arabia
  • North Korea
  • Angola
  • Algeria
  • Cuba
  • Syria
  • Somalia
  • Afghanistan
  • Iraq

WE LET YOU IN, NOW I CAN’T COME VISIT?… WHAT GIVES?

The inverse is true if you are trying to get IN to the United States. There are only a handful of countries that we allow in without a specific visa. Mostly European and Asian countries. These are “visa waiver” countries.

Visa Waiver Countries

THIS INCLUDES THE AIRPORT

Fun Fact: You can’t even fly through Miami or New York on your way to another country that DOES let you in! You need a visa for that too, a “transit visa”. Remember when you got off the plane from your last island vacation? You queued in the line for immigration first, they make sure you’re allowed to enter the country. Then you went through customs, and told them about your couple bags of coffee you bought, and that liquor for your brother in law you can only get in the Dominican. Only then did you grab your bags and make your way to your connecting flight. At this point you are inside the United States. You could walk out the door and breathe freedom. 

Screen Shot 2017-10-22 at 8.44.33 AM

Photo Credit: 10 Sure-Fire Ways To Spot An American Tourist

SO NOW YOU KNOW… BUT DON’T ASSUME IT MAKES SENSE!

There is no rhyme or reason to who they let in or don’t, and for what reason. Costa Rica doesn’t even have an army, it was abolished in 1948. While most countries have monuments symbolizing their military leaders and victories, Costa Rica has monuments symbolizing peace. Pura Vida. You could say it’s one of the most docile of the Latin American countries.

Costa Rica Peace Monuments

Yet, poor Gabriela was STILL denied entry to the United States. And they don’t tell you why. Just that you can re-apply in a month and spend another $160 and 4 hour trip to San Jose…..

On the flip side, I know a fella that was illegal in the US for 10 years, came back to Costa Rica for 6, applied for a 10 year travel visa and….. boom! Approved!

No rhyme. No reason.

Buena Suerte!!!

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