On Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 1:24 PM, Stuart Prior <stuart.prior@wikimedia.org.uk> wrote:
Lodewijk, AFAIK we've never kept track of rejections, but I could find out. My gut feeling is that there hasn't been a massive variation over the past 4 years, I think Mexico City was the most open to everybody (?)

That would be good for perspective - I don't know any better than that there are complaints about scholarship rejections each year. Mexico may indeed have been the 'easiest'. But of course, rejections don't only happen to scholarship recipients, but also to self- or externally funded participants. I can imagine you won't have access to that data unless it's reported, though. 

Rexford, possibly (and yeah Wiki = Wikileaks is *always* a problem lol). But some visa systems are very closed and bureaucratic and it's hard to bring any influence or assistance to bear beyond supporting documentation, i.e you can't even talk to a human being about it.

To *truly assist* some of it would involve building political contacts beforehand to advocate for visas (i.e your local representative can help sometimes), that's a possibility but may create other problems, capacity for a start.
The logistics of organising travel/accomm for hundreds of people from hundreds of locations is already onerous, adding an intensive visa support process into that it when some visa systems feel like a lottery would be easy to overpromise and underdeliver. 

What strikes me here is that visas are a problem for people from our developing communities, but they are one of many factors in deciding a Wikimania location. 
One country that might be visa-friendly to one, is prohibitively expensive to get to/stay in for another. 
So while Australia might be relaxed in terms of visas (I'm not confident of this btw) it's also objectively remote/expensive.

Whether a location has achieved that balance is always a question, and I can't think of one Wikimania where everyone's agreed it has ;-)


On 22 June 2017 at 12:12, Nkansah Rexford <nkansahrexford@gmail.com> wrote:
It is easy to conclude the location hinders visa application acceptance. As much as it appears to be so, I strongly believe if there's good enough Visa support and assistance from the Wikimania Team/WMF, rejected cases could be low.

Obviously, an applicant should have documents intact and good, and submit all the necessary details the embassy wants, including the invitation letter. However, in some countries, that ain't enough.

In 2012, the invitation letter I submitted to the consular at the US embassy here in Ghana, she didn't read, and I could see from her face how nonsense it looked to her. Heck, anybody anywhere could conjure such a sheet of paper with black ink on, any time any day. Plus, the consular had NO idea what Wikimedia was. There was no way I could explain what Wikimedia is in the few seconds I had in front of the teller-like counter. 

Wiki? WikiLeaks? Duh!

As much a mere letter of invitation is formal to some extent, to what extent is the WMF also willing to support visa applications outside just the letter?

Not saying WMF should do exactly same, but I know other organizations that pick up the phone, and call the local embassy of the invitee way ahead of time to initialize conversations and to explain to *what extent* whoever they've invited fits in the about-to-happen event. 

The embassy in many cases, asks questions they won't otherwise ask the applicant, but would, to the inviting organization.

This visa issue, until the WMF *truly assist*, some countries will still struggle getting accepted visa. 

It is not easy, and it ain't something just a letter wipes away. 


PS: I know cases where rejected visa are reconsidered and approved just because the inviting organization literally stepped in, and got serious with the embassy.

On Thursday, June 22, 2017, Bodhisattwa Mandal <bodhisattwa.rgkmc@gmail.com> wrote:


The main topic of discussion among the scholarship recipients from global south this month is the high visa rejection rate by Canadian embassies from these countries.

This year, we had 7 scholarship recipients from Bengali community, 4 from India and 3 from Bangladesh. Already 3 out of 4 scholarship recipients from Indian part of the communities got their visa rejected, others are waiting. Although I am hoping for the best for all the scholarship recipients, but may be news of more rejections are coming soon.

Wikimania should be organised in a visa friendly country, and not in those countries where global south citizens are not allowed to enter even for a 6-days conference. Otherwise, a global community is not truly presented.

Best wishes,

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