As regular readers will know we have spent a good chunk of this year focussed on planning and fundraising to get to the USA to speak at conferences in South Bend, Indiana and in San Francisco. Yesterday we should have been on a flight heading to the USA but we had to make the tough call to cancel Madeleine’s planned when Madeleine’s non-immigrant visa failed to come through in time.
Twenty years ago, when Madeleine was 18 and not a Christian, she committedwhat she calls “an act of teenage stupidity” and was convicted of theft and had to do some community service. In New Zealand this conviction is covered by clean slate law but this law does not apply to other countries and the US ask all their visitors seeking visa waivers “have you ever been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude?” Anyone answering “yes” has to apply for a non-immigrant visa. Now Madeleine applied for one of these last time she went to the US some 13 years ago and was granted it in 2 days. This time she phoned up and was told provided she applied about 4 weeks out from her planned date of travel she should be fine – especially as her conviction is now 20 years old and she has never been in trouble since and she has been granted a visa before. She applied with nearly 6 weeks in hand but at the point we had to make the call, her application was still “pending” (and it still is as I write this). In addition, the American Consulate are still holding her passport so they can put her visa in it… With no passport and no visa she could not get on the plane.
Given that we were going to Indiana because Madeleine was speaking at Notre Dame and now she is not we decided to change my trip so that I will now just go to San Francisco and deliver all my planned talks (I will now give our joint talk to the SBL by myself). I now will not leave New Zealand until Tuesday 15 Nov.
We have been able to get a lot of refunds thankfully with not too much in the way of penalty fees and we were able to get a new flight for me at the same ticket price so once we know what it will cost for me to go, any left-over donated monies will be held over to next years cluster of EPS and SBL conferences, as at the very least I expect to be travelling to the US to speak at them – Madeleine will come with me if the US Department of State have actually processed her visa application by Nov 2012… (You can check the status of her application by going here and clicking on the link in the right hand column under “CASE STATUS CHECK“ and using “control F” and entering: 20112782761 – that is her)
As you can imagine we are deeply disappointed by this turn of events and we have had a fairly flat few days as a result. I am pleased to be able to share that there is some good news to among the bad, Madeleine was last week offered a job in a law firm working part-time for an employer who understands and is willing to accommodate her pain disability caused by her car accident in 2008. Her trip being cancelled has meant she has been able to start proper this week so that has given her something to focus on.
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