New York Times on Visa Troubles of Belarusians

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Alena Shkumatava, an old friend of mine from Belarus, shares in today's New York Times how she struggled for her U.S. visa. The story gives you a taste of what it's like to be a "highly skilled" professional from Belarus.

I had been in Alena's shoes five months ago. Spent lots of money to travel to Moscow just to find out that I would have to waste there two weeks just to know when my appointment would be. Fortunately, I was lucky to get my H-1B at the U.S. embassy in Minsk. Thus I avoided a lengthy and humiliating application process in Moscow. Alena, like hundreds of other applicants from Belarus, was less fortunate:

The work, focusing on genetic material called micro-RNAs, is ripe with promise. But Dr. Shkumatava, a postdoctoral researcher from Belarus, will not pursue it in the United States, she said, partly because of what happened last year, when she tried to renew her visa. What should have been a short visit with her family in Belarus punctuated by a routine trip to an American consulate turned into a three-month nightmare of bureaucratic snafus, lost documents and frustrating encounters with embassy employees. “If you write an e-mail, there is no one replying to you,” she said. “Unfortunately, this is very common.”

Read full text at New York Times.

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