Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Work is fun

Every day on the visa line is unique.

Today an applicant pulled her boob out at my window. No, she wasn’t breastfeeding (not an uncommon occurrence), and no, it wasn’t a wardrobe malfunction. She was explaining to me about the surgery she had undergone a few years ago and (for some reason) figured that visual aids were necessary. Sheesh.

In my (almost) 6 months on the visa line, I’ve seen people faint, puke, have panic attacks, heart attacks, and throw hissy fits. Though there haven’t been too many of the last one. The people here take denials well. Not that we deny all that many people. About 80% of Costa Rican visa applications are approved.

So, most applicants are not the fainting, puking, flashing sort. I’ve met several Hollywood folks (some names you’d know; some you wouldn’t), many government officials, dozens of doctors, and even more lawyers (side-note: I’ve noticed that lawyer-lawyer couples have a high divorce rate). But the good news is that you don’t have to be a lawyer/doctor/legislator to get a visa. You just have to demonstrate strong ties to your country.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but U.S. law presumes that everyone is an immigrant unless they convince a consular officer (me) that their ties are strong enough to compel them to leave the U.S. at the end of their stay. Some people insist that this is all about money, but it isn’t. Personally, I think some Americans need to come to grips with the idea that not everyone wants to live in our country. Yes, financial ties are a major factor we consider, but according to the law, social and family ties are to be considered as well. I’ve issued visas to plenty of poorer people who have credible ties here.

All this work talk is reminding me of our case notes. Because of the speed with which we work, even I make frequent typos. I’ve written countless times about an applicant’s “good toes” or “credible toes” (instead of ties). I’m sure they are relieved that I find their feet credible.

Work is fun.