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

Hi Steve,

On Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 11:27:46AM -0700, Steve Langasek wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 11:29:15AM -0400, Jimmy Kaplowitz wrote:
> > There were of course some visa denials, but way fewer than feared, and we
> > did have approvals even from countries where the worries were strongest
> > (e.g.  Venezuela and Central America).
> I would actually not have thought this a given.  Could you provide some
> statistics, regarding how many visa applications were denied (raw numbers /
> percentage of total visa applications), as well as information about any
> patterns you're aware of in the denied applications?  E.g., people applying
> too late, countries of origin, relatives in the US, prior convictions for
> drug running in Patagonia?

If you want precise DC10 numbers, I'd have to trawl through email from the
relevant period and hope that covers all outcomes; it was a rare enough problem
we didn't track it systematically. If I remember right, the number of denials
was in the single digits, and it was generally related to having relatives
living in the US while the applicant was from a poor Latin American country. I
think one denial was from El Salvador, which is one of the higher-refusal-rate
countries due to drug and illegal immgration patterns, for someone who had a
relative in the US. I think there was at least one Salvadoran approval too,

Despite that, plenty of Latin American applicants got visas issued. In
fairness, I don't know how many decided not to try, but the DC10 final report
lists 20 Latin American attendees plus any Latin Americans among the 82
Unspecified" category.

General info on high-refusal-rate countries:

That list mostly doesn't overlap with Debian developer home countries. (Our
Bosnian and Nicaraguan friends were able to obtain visas and I addressed El
Salvador above.)

While Daniel Pocock is technically right about the structure of US visa law
where the burden is on the applicant to prove nonimmigrant intent, he's wrong
about hard it was overall for DebConf10 visa applicants to overcome that

For certain applicants, the invitation letter may have made the difference.
Another thing our lawyer did is to let the US State Department know about the
event (there's a way to do that), which might have helped visa officers believe
applicants' stated reason for coming to the US.

Apologies for any mistakes in the above - this is all from memory.

- Jimmy Kaplowitz

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