24 October 2014

All Dressed Up with Nowhere to Go

Although the denial of my application for VISA to Brazil hurt, the process of attempting to gain approval is proving to be far more painful. In response to my multiple emails confessing bewilderment and asking for clarification -- specifically, the straightforward explanation of what I did "wrong" -- the Brazilian Consulate has found 100 ways to say "Figure it out for yourself."

My packet of documents was returned to me with a form cover letter that includes a checklist of reasons for denial. None of the reasons were checked. A handwritten note on the back side of the form instructs me to apply for a different type VISA -- the type that I actually applied for.

And the rules keep changing. The non-refundable $200 application fee I paid at the beginning of this month has now become $250. The required letter from sponsoring institution verifying invitation and support is now "not enough."

With a few notable exceptions, my dealings with Brazilian people have been marked by a near total disregard for punctuality. More often than not, correspondence is either never acknowledged or the response is late or incomplete. Skype dates are missed; promises broken.

I have taken it in stride. The years spent in New Orleans were excellent training for relaxing my meticulous standards of efficiency and timeliness. And living in Mississippi for two years has offered additional training. I am approaching Mastery status in the art of Meeting People Where They Are (unless I share a house with them...but that's another story for another time).

In light of the tit-for-tat/cat-and-mouse game the Consulate and I are playing, however, the laid-back, noncommittal Brazilian posture begins to look and feel more inconsiderate and thoughtless.

I'm losing sleep. I'm sad. I'm frustrated. I'm suffering and around 4 this morning my anguish yanked sleep away. Hard work to achieve a goal is acceptable. Hard work that boils down to dancing to an insatiable task master is not. The Brazilian Consulate wants something from me but when I write 
What did I fail to send?   Please advise.

The form letter enclosed with my returned materials DID NOT indicate what was missing from the original application packet. 

I am very sorry to seem so dim-witted but I cannot guess the answer.  

Please advise.  Thank you.

they respond
This means that if you send an incomplete application, or an application with wrong information, we will not return your Money-Order, even though not issuing the Visa. Please, read our website twice before sending your application.

Not really a helpful response. Certainly far from a clear, informative explanation that would permit me to rectify the situation.

So I could take a stab, make a guess, buy another money order and send the stuff in...  And be rejected again. (I have heard several stories this week of people who received multiple VISA denials, one of them even after taking a day off work to fly to Atlanta in hopes that a face-to-face meeting was the solution.)

On this bright, crisp morning it doesn't seem worth it. I am disinclined to send more money to the Brazilian Consulate. It feels like a high stakes gambling game. I'm at the wrong table.

I purchased a passport and a (non-refundable) plane ticket because the Consulate required it. And now they won't let me in?

A bit of research reveals that I can fly to Portugal and Spain for lower airfare and a VISA is NOT required for U.S. citizens. I speak Spanish. I speak (am learning) Portuguese. It's looking like time to switch directions.

Brazil is a beautiful and fascinating place but experiencing it firsthand is just not worth this much work, money and heartache to me.