[FOSDEM] more problems with visa letters

Emanuil Tolev emanuil.tolev at gmail.com
Mon Jan 25 13:20:11 CET 2016

I think there are two issues here and they are being conflated:

- visa invitation letters for official visa application purposes to visit
Belgium - from an organisation or person. This is what the thread so far
discusses, but is not what Daniel requests.
- visiting FOSDEM from an country whose citizens require visas to travel to

FOSDEM is like the Grand Place or the Palais Royal de Bruxelles. A tourist
(if they were deemed eligible for a tourist visa by all other criteria)
should not need any other "reasons" to visit Brussels besides the fact that
FOSDEM is being hosted there on X and Y dates.

However, the embassy is trying to be extra cautious, and actually going
into requesting pointless / impossible to get information. If you go to an
event, you usually buy a ticket. The event organiser has invited you to
their event in this manner (and some events are even more exclusive than
"whoever has money for a ticket"). I believe this is what the embassy is
after in this case. Remember that the free software developer has already
been invited by another organisation (the free software project's org.) to
attend FOSDEM. But, the embassy wants *FOSDEM* to also invite the developer
to come - which FOSDEM already does just by putting up www.fosdem.org .

So from FOSDEM's perspective there's nothing to do - they've already
invited that developer as well as they can. I think that's what Daniel was
requesting - a "pro-forma" self-service web form that specifically
explained what FOSDEM is (not ticketed, etc.), and said "developer <insert
name> is welcome to attend FOSDEM on <date> in Brussels, Belgium."

I do agree it will be difficult to avoid confusion between this sort of
informal invite and the official letters requested by government. On the
other hand the embassy officials are clearly misunderstanding what FOSDEM
is in this case. Otherwise they would have taken the word of <Free Software
Project Ltd.> that <developer> is invited to Belgium to meet about
<project>. There may well be something which can be done, but IMO we would
need advice from the Ministry of Exterior (or at least this particular
embassy) to understand what it is they want. Ideally they can be convinced
FOSDEM cannot issue any letters since its website is its invitation to all
across the globe. The problem is going to be finding somebody capable and
willing to spend the time to do that...


On 25 January 2016 at 08:55, Wouter Verhelst <wouter at fosdem.org> wrote:

> On Thu, Jan 21, 2016 at 11:54:01AM +0100, Daniel Pocock wrote:
> > That message wasn't asking them to do such a thing, it was only written
> out
> > of respect for those contributors to our community who either can't
> attend or
> > have to waste a significant amount of time and energy on such things in
> order
> > to do so.
> Be that as it may, we (FOSDEM) are not going to put ourselves at risk of
> legal problems just so we can make it easier for people to attend.
> If we *can* make it easier for people to attend *without* putting FOSDEM
> vzw at risk of legal repercussions in case a person we don't actually
> know disappears, we will do so. Writing formal invitation letters from
> an automated website doesn't fit that bill, however.
> --
> It is easy to love a country that is famous for chocolate and beer
>   -- Barack Obama, speaking in Brussels, Belgium, 2014-03-26
> _______________________________________________
> FOSDEM mailing list
> FOSDEM at lists.fosdem.org
> https://lists.fosdem.org/listinfo/fosdem
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