Tue, 18 Nov 2008
Today's newspapers are full of articles commenting the fact that Czech citizens now can travel to the U.S. without visa, and taking it as a big achievement of Czech politicians. Having gone through the U.S. visa procedure myself recently, I wonder why no journalist pointed out the sad truth, that in fact, the visa procedure is still there.
The meaning of the phrase "not needing visa" for me is being able to decide to cross the border at any time in any country, and equipped just with the passport being able to appear in front of the passport officer, who in turn should immediately be able to decide whether to allow me in or not (possibly asking some trivial questions like whether I want to work in his country or in which hotel I want to stay).
But the current procedure is still the same visa procedure as before (including lots of big-brotherish questions and gathering of personal data). The only differences are that it takes only three days to validate the request instead of a month, it can be filled in online instead of in the U.S. embassy, and it requires a biometric passport (big brother again). And probably the immigration clerk would check the passengers without visa more thoroughly (at least this is how it has been a month ago when I travelled to Portland).
So nothing to see here (definitely no material for the front pages of the newspapers), move along.