How I Got Kicked Out Of Romania

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    Derek

    “Peace, I’m out.”

    That’s exactly what I yelled…okay, maybe I just mumbled it to myself…fine, I only said it in my head…but regardless, it was said as I left Bucharest last week, right after I discovered that my residency visa had suddenly been refused.

    The story actually begins back on March 3rd, just after midnight, when I climbed into a van in the Paharganj neighborhood of Delhi, India and went to the airport. My latest Wander Across India Tour had come to an end and so, it was time for me to head to my next destination.

    From India I flew to Dubai, changed planes, and continued on to Bucharest, Romania.

    Just as the sun was setting the plane touched down at Bucharest’s Otopeni airport and, once inside, I approached the immigration counter as usual. The officer at the counter swiped my passport, looked at his computer screen for a few moments and then said, “You have residency here, where is your residency card?”. To which I replied, “I was told to pick it up in early March so I’m going to pick up the card tomorrow.”

    All was good. Through immigration I went. It felt great to be back in this city.
    Off to Pick Up My Residency Card…

    The following afternoon, I was first in line at the main immigration office in the center of Bucharest when the ‘pick up your visa’ counter opened at 1:30pm. I approached the woman behind the counter, handed over my passport and waited while she typed something into her computer. She soon stopped typing, handed back my passport and, to put it simply, told me that my residency visa had been refused.

    I explained that it couldn’t be possible since this very same immigration office had told me to pick up my residency card during the first week of March. It also couldn’t be possible because I followed the exact instructions that the immigration office gave me to apply for and obtain this visa.

    But, she just repeated that it had been refused and after digging through a box, she handed me a letter. The letter also stated that my visa had been refused and the reason given was “insufficient reason for me to be granted a residency visa”. A bit vague.

    Confused was I, especially since they had just let me into the country the day before by noting that, according to the immigration system at the airport, I had a valid residency visa.

    So, there I stood. No residency visa.

    Not only that, but without the residency visa, that meant I was now in the country illegally since I was well over the “90 days in any 180 day period” that US citizens are allowed to stay. If I didn’t have residency, I had to leave immediately and not come back.
    An Explanation Please…

    Before leaving the immigration office, however, I needed to have more information and so, with the assistance of a friend who came down to translate, the immigration officer eventually explained the following:

    1. The decision to refuse my visa was made by a team of high ranking immigration officers that only review certain types of visa applications.

    2. Their reasoning was that, since I was trying to get the residency visa based on my blog and the fact that, by writing about my experiences in the country I would help promote Romania, why couldn’t I just promote Romania from outside the country? Why did I have to actually be in the country to write about it?

    3. If Romania needed a blogger to promote their country, they could just go to the unemployment office in Bucharest and find a blogger there who would be willing to write about it.

    That’s why they refused my visa apparently. Needless to say, I left the immigration office with my head down.

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