- Posted February 28, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
US Citizens Travelling Abroad--You are ON YOUR OWN
I've lived in Ukraine for 2.5 years, I'm happily married to a Ukrainian woman (two years three months), and we have a one and a half year old son (US citizen by birth--supposedly).
We've been happy here and things are always peaceful--until the recent events in Kiev.
We live in Yalta, Crimea. Things are slightly tense now.
I get US State Department and US Embassy travel warning emails telling me to avoid travel in Ukraine and especially to Kiev.
I'm ready to move back to the US now and get my wife an immigrant visa and my son a US passport.
So I emailed the US Embassy (that place where all the US family members have been evacuated from).
I let them know where I am and that I want to expedite the visa process for my wife so we can all leave safely.
No. Not possible. I must use the normal visa process that everyone follows.
I told them that while we are not in imminent danger we are in an extraordinary circumstance where danger is potential. And that I believed these circumstances warrant an expedited visa and US passport for our son.
No. Not possible.
I called the US National Visa Center (Skype phone) to see if it can be expedited (603-334-0700), waited 20+ minutes, and told them my story. They told me I needed to call the USCIS.
I called the USCIS (800-375-5283), waited 20+ minutes, and told them my story. I was told that I needed to call The Visa Call Center in Ukraine.
I called the Visa Call Center in Ukraine (703-988-7107), waited less than 20 minutes, and told them my story. They told me I needed to go to the USCIS website and apply like everyone else. They hung up on me before I could ask, "Have you been keeping up with current events in Ukra--"
I literally called back again and had the same experience with a different person--including the hang up.
I called the US Embassy in Kiev again and pleaded m case again. I asked if I could speak to a US Citizen at the embassy. No. Please call the consular section.
I called the consular section 044-521-5566 (or 5000). It's voice machine only.
Somewhere in that stream of phone calls which I did not expect I also called 1-703-988-7107,7,3,3,1,2 and they told me to go to the website.
I feel like I'm back home already trying to renew my driver's license at the DMV--only this experience is less pleasant.
In the middle of all that I wrote to my two US Senators from Colorado, and to my US Congressional Representative from the 4th district where my home address is.
I know they're busy. But don't they have staff reviewing their emails?
I'm about ready to go stand in front of the news cameras at nearby Simferopol Airport where the masked soldiers are brandishing shiney new AK-74s (smaller rounds than their older AK-47s)--and talk about this idiotic nationalism which ruins life everywhere in the world and now it has boiled up in Ukraine.
I was never a fan of John Lennon's music--take it or leave it, but his ideas are starting to make sense ["Imagine there's no countries..."].
Dogma, nationalism and fanaticism of every kind are so sad, stupid and harmful (excluding chocolate of course).
We only need a way to let little men in power feel big and let young men with small brains somehow kill something so they can feel powerful too.
But idiots on the street with rifles and masks... really? In 2014?
I'm open to suggestions for how to expedite a visa and to also get my message in front of my senators, congressman, and the highest levels of the US State Dept and US Embassy.
I just wonder if I'm killed over here will the US Embassy and State Department expedite the paperwork for the return of my remains? And my wife of two plus years, and my one and a half year old son--what of their remains?