[FOSDEM] more problems with visa letters

Daniel Pocock daniel at pocock.pro
Mon Jan 18 18:11:21 CET 2016

On 18/01/16 16:27, Gerry Demaret wrote:
> On 01/18/2016 09:38 AM, Daniel Pocock wrote:
>> The developer in India just got a call from the Belgian embassy asking
>> for a second letter from FOSDEM organizers.  He has previously had a
>> Schengen visa (from an event in Germany last year) and his travel agent
>> had told him that renewing the visa was just a formality so he already
>> has flight and hotel bookings and he is quite keen to get this sorted
>> out quickly.  Can anybody from FOSDEM assist with these requests from
>> the Belgian officials?
> As stated in our FAQ, we can only write official invitations for
> speakers and other people with whom we have a business relationship.
> As a visitor, visiting FOSDEM is the same as visiting a museum or
> attending a music festival and entirely irrelevant for a visa
> application.
> Visitors in need of a visa should just apply for a tourist visa for
> Belgium and convince the consulate that they will leave Belgium again
> (book a return ticket), they have somewhere to stay in Belgium (book a
> hotel) and have the means to support themselves while in Belgium.
> Considering the above, simply presenting them with a printout of our
> website should be enough to show them why one would want to come to
> Belgium.

There is more to it

- as it is a cultural event and non-profit, he has applied to waive the
visa fee, so maybe this is why the officials are looking for a stronger
connection with the event

- he rang them and they said they might consider other evidence, such as
an entry ticket or having his name on the web site, given that he
already provided an invitation letter from another organization

- the FAQ encourages people to seek other local sponsors to write the
letter, but that hasn't been sufficient in this case, so maybe that
needs to be removed from the FAQ

>> Given that FOSDEM is a free event and that people don't normally
>> register to attend, would the FOSDEM team consider providing a
>> self-service web-form for guests like this who do need to "register" and
>> obtain their invitation letters on demand?
> That would void the point of the whole "invitation letter" system, and
> could put the legal entity behind FOSDEM at risk.

I'm not sure what you mean by that

As far as I understand it, FOSDEM is a free event where everybody is
welcome, no matter which country they were born in.  Giving somebody a
personalized letter that says "Dear Bob, we invite you to FOSDEM" only
seems like a logical extension to the statements already on the website
inviting anybody and everybody.

I understand that it is different if the letter provides a financial
guarantee, but that was not requested in this case.



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