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Re: [Debconf-team] [DC14] Portland team: DebConf in the USA

On 16/03/13 04:07, micah anderson wrote:
> Gunnar Wolf <gwolf@gwolf.org> writes:
>> USA, the eternal debate
>> =======================
>> There is also this tradition we have of not repeating countries. Of
>> course, being the USA such a large country, and being its Debian
>> population so large, I would not give much weight to the argument, but
>> I have seen it mentioned on IRC.
> The west coast of the USA is basically a different country, the only

But the visa nightmare is still the same - if the bid team are willing
to pay for the 0900 calls, I will be happy to set up a WebRTC web-app
that allows people to call the embassy 0900 numbers indirectly (via the
DebConf-team phone account) so participants don't have to lose their own
money on this.

I'm not sure if people are aware of this, but on my last visit to the
US, authorities were systematically fingerprinting everybody who got off
the plane.

I've seen the US problems from both sides of the equation, I am
personally eligible for the Visa Waiver Program and the E-3 working visa
should I ever want to live in the US.  On the other hand, I've worked
with people who have been completely unable to get to the US for
business matters representing their European employers, simply because
they were born in a non-VWP country before coming to Europe.

My own observation in such cases is that the embassy officials ask them
to call an expensive 0900 number, then ask for money in the bank
account, then the person has to take time off work to travel to a US
embassy, they have to pay for a locker at the train station to leave
their mobile phone (because mobile phones are now banned in US
embassies) and then when they finally do go inside for their
appointment, it is like a lottery.

The US visa rejection statistics are quoted in the DC10 wiki, but I
think those statistics are misleading, because many people who feel they
are not rich enough to qualify don't even bother to apply.

It would be very interesting to know if the bid includes a provision to
fully compensate people for all costs involved in this process,
regardless of outcome.

Even after people get a visa, they can be refused at the border.
Technically, the US law says that border agents must assume all visitors
are intending to stay and rejecting them is therefore the `default'
decision.  Europe, for example, says that the border guard can only
refuse somebody if there is evidence of an `imminent threat to
security', and the default is to admit them.  This distinction in the
default action is a very fundamental difference.

The bid itself doesn't specify anything about the above, it just gives a
link to DC10, which leaves me feeling that the bid team has
underestimated the seriousness of these issues.

Just to put another angle on this: people who want to travel with a
spouse, etc, may have further complications if one person is eligible
for VWP and the other person is not.

My own feeling: countries like the US and Australia shouldn't bother
holding major events like DebConf, it would be better to run a big local
event that takes place in addition to the annual DebConf, e.g. a
super-size-mini-DebConf, possibly between DC13 and DC14, but with the
global focus remaining on a destination that welcomes people

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