25 January 2013

Treating Ukrainians like Second Class citizens

It's a well known fact that Ukrainian people go through a hard time when they make an application for a visa to visit another country. More so when they want to visit an EU country. Worse still is when they want to visit the United Kingdom.  Much has been written over the years about the conduct of staff employed within Embassy/Visa offices around the world. It is fair to say that many of the people causing the problems are in fact Ukrainian people employed by these 'Visa Offices' in Kyiv. However EU nationals working in these places also must take a share of the blame for the bad reputations these places have developed.
Some of these Embassies/Visa Offices are actually informing Ukrainian citizens that they MUST report back to them when they return to Ukraine to prove they have returned.

The whole system is unfair and treats Ukrainians like second class citizens. Its as though the famous Iron Curtain was still in place. I have great empathy with all Ukrainians who have to go through the system.

A recent article in the Kyiv Post highlights yet again the problems. Quote:
Even those who can prove solid financial backing and who are married to EU citizens can run into problems. 
Kamaliya, the singer-actress married to multimillionaire investor and Kyiv Post publisher Mohammad Zahoor, recently got turned down for a 10-year long-term visa to the United Kingdom. Zahoor, a UK citizen, owns a house in London and his wife, born Nataliia Shmarenkova, has traveled to Great Britain 11 times on eight short-term visas for a total of 72 days since 2005.
Yet she got a two-page rejection letter on Jan. 16 from a UK consular officer in Warsaw, Poland, who concluded that she was attempting to circumvent UK immigration laws and hadn’t provided sufficient financial and other proof that her stays in the UK would be limited to two weeks at a time, as she stated on her visa application.
Zahoor says that his wife will reapply. The UK Border Agency said it does not comment on individual cases. 

See full article: http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/ukrainians-say-eu-nations-still-too-stingy-with-visas-319317.html

In another case, a British citizen who had been living in Ukraine for many years recently decided to return to live and work in the UK. His wife is Russian citizen (non EU citizen) therefore the UKBA applied the new rules regarding British citizens who return home with a spouse and family. These new rules mean that he had to prove that he was going to have a minimum income of £18,600 plus additional income to show he can support his wife and child. After some considerable delay the family are reunited again in the UK. But it was a worrying time.

Many people are unaware of some of the very crazy EU laws and how they conflict with UK laws.
A citizen of an EU country can go and live with his/her family in the UK without any special requirements.
This is EU law. The right to live anywhere in the EU. However immigration is a bad word these days in the UK and the British public are cautious about the new rights to be given to Bulgarian and Hungarian citizens later in 2013. The fear is that many of these citizens will be opting to live in the UK to 'enjoy' the generous state benefits to which they will be entitled. Try reading the Daily Mail each day and you will become aware.

However, in contrast to all this I was recently remind of the power of the 'Investment Visa', which many rich Ukrainian and Russian citizens are obtaining via the £1 million route to enter and live in the UK.
On a flight from Kyiv to London I met a Ukrainian man who tells me that he flies from Kyiv to London each Friday and back to Kyiv on Mondays. His wife, her mother and their young child all live in London thanks to the £1 million Investor visa system. They had no problems with getting a visa and have no problems with the UKBA.

Unfair system? - You bet.

07 January 2013

Happy New Year & Happy Christmas in Ukraine

The long silence as been due to my winter exit from Ukraine to the warmer shores of Sri Lanka.
Today is Christmas Day (Orthodox) 7th January and many of us celebrate this day also.
I'm beginning to think that so many of my friends and Ukrainians decided to so the same this year and come to Sri Lanka to escape the winter. My Sri Lanka 'escape town' of Hikkaduwa has been invaded this year with Russians and Ukrainians on holiday.
Slavonic people are demanding customers these days and its obvious that the Sri Lankans are not used to dealing with people who complain about the food and service.
About time too I think as Sri Lankans have had an easy time of looking after the quieter Western Europeans (British, Germans, etc) who do not complain so much.

My message to Ukrainian tourists is.....keep up the good work. Things only change when people complain and/or take action.

Just a pity Ukrainians could not bring about some more important changes back in Ukraine.