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Discussion: Visa Invitation for Ukrainian Orienteers

in: Orienteering; General

Oct 24, 2016 3:40 AM # 
BAOC is hosting the San Francisco Sprint Weekend in December and I am at least nominally its director. I have gotten an email from a Ukrainian orienteer who wants to participate with some others. They would like an invitation as support for their visa application. I've never written one of these, does anyone have a template or example?
Oct 24, 2016 3:51 AM # 
Dear Ukranians

Please come to our event.

Luv, Americans
Oct 24, 2016 4:05 AM # 
Note that traffickers look for ways to get visas, so be careful. Any way to verify who they are, and their orienteering?
Oct 24, 2016 4:28 AM # 
The person who contacted me is Volodymyr Gnedov, anyone know him? I found the name in a few old results files through Google. He asked the right sort of questions, like do we use SI or Emit. I was going to ask for the names of their clubs, which might help confirm that they are who they say they are.
Oct 24, 2016 4:53 AM # 

Your precautions are quite reasonable. Ukraine is a war zone, and it is very criminalized. I recall a few years back people from GAOC had experience when
a large group enrolled in their A-meet and asked for visa invitation.
I remember two things: First, none of the names was saying anything to me, and I sort-of know people doing O'ring there. Secondly, they did not show up -- so their real purpose of visit was not Orienteering.
Oct 24, 2016 10:22 AM # 
Please keep in mind that the club system is less developed in Ukraine than in many other countries, so many genuine orienteers are not members of clubs. Just ask them to register (if they have not done so yet) and then state the truth in your letter, which is that they have signed up to run in your event. Let the US visa authorities deal with the rest, don't do their job for them. The US embassy in Kiev is, of course, well aware of all the ways the locals use to cheat, so they will consider all the evidence available to them, and your letter will only be a minor contribution to the applicants' case.

Aside from the 5% or so of the Ukrainian territory where the war is, Ukraine is NOT a war zone and a fairly safe country (only marginally less so than before the war started). I don't understand what this has to do with this particular case, though.
Oct 24, 2016 10:49 AM # 
The above two respondents have valuable opinions, as I believe they are both originally from Ukraine. But you also have one of the most knowledgeable people on visa matters in US orienteering in your backyard: Vladimir Gusiatnikov. Seek his advice.
Oct 24, 2016 12:15 PM # 
I know Vladimir Gnedov. He is legit. PM me for more questions, if interested.
Oct 24, 2016 6:33 PM # 
I looked it up, this person appears to be from Kiev, I found his name multiple times in the results of local races there, also looks like he has organized in the past tours for orienteers to european events.
So, no human trafficking here. But the "tourists" will unlikely be all orienteers, yet at least some would be -- this is the standard arrangement in this business.
Oct 24, 2016 7:26 PM # 
For a long time, Vladimir was the coach of the Kiev Deaf Orienteering Team (though he is not deaf). I suspect that deaf orienteers in the US community would know him as well.
Oct 24, 2016 8:28 PM # 
we are going to build a wall between us and Ukraine. The wall will be 200 feet high and Ukrainian orienteers will pay for it.
Oct 25, 2016 12:14 AM # 
It's going to be mapped as crossable.
Oct 25, 2016 11:39 PM # 
I provided formal invitations for the World Cup SkiO races in Truckee several years ago. These were required to enable competitors form Russia and the Ukraine to get visas. The US embassy requirements and screening are rigorous for the reasons cited above. It took a number of exchanges the get the wording exactly right. And ultimately I had to mail a hard copy for them to take to the embassy. Contact me directly for more specifics on what they need.
Oct 26, 2016 1:44 PM # 
sorry to nitpick, but its Ukraine, not the Ukraine
Oct 26, 2016 3:30 PM # 
Thank, Ken. I've sent you what I have. I got two sample letters from Gnedov.
Thanks, Boris and yurets, for vouching for him.
JJ, I thought about checking with Vlad G. Wasn't sure he had experience with people coming this way, as opposed to going over there.
Oct 26, 2016 11:51 PM # 
No thank you to the dnp?
Oct 26, 2016 11:56 PM # 
I didn't need to be told to leave out the article before Ukraine. I'm ignoring the other comment.
Oct 27, 2016 12:21 AM # 
@tRicky: He is right, in America we put "the" in front of geographic regions,
for example: the Ozarks, the Corn Belt, etc. The Ukraine is a part of greater Russia, and translates literally as "the outskirts", a vast region with fertile soils between Russia and Poland.
Oct 27, 2016 5:26 PM # 
"The Ukraine is a part of greater Russia" Millions of Ukrainians who deluded themselves thinking Ukraine is an independent nation just had a heart attack.
"between Russia and Poland" millions of people who actually saw a map of Europe joined the delusional Ukrainians.
Oct 27, 2016 10:33 PM # 
"Ukraine" means "outskirts" in Russian, but not in Ukrainian, though, right?
Oct 27, 2016 10:51 PM # 
I had four people from Ukraine wish to have "invitations" to the NAOC but when I started asking pointed questions, they disappeared. This may not be the case with these people but the invitation to the event on the webpage should be sufficient. They should not need extra help.
Oct 28, 2016 1:14 AM # 
Disappeared or disappeared? I can imagine the Russian mafia could have had a hand in that once it learned of the possible defections.
Oct 28, 2016 1:49 AM # 
They should not need extra help.

For the 2012 Ski-O world cup events there were a number of teams that definitely did need extra help. Not just in an online web event invitation, or an emailed invitation, but I think Ken had to actually print out a number of personalized invitations on letterhead and mail them to the embassies or competitors so they could get visas.
Oct 28, 2016 2:49 AM # 
For those who are curious:
Oct 28, 2016 4:33 AM # 
Not just in an online web event invitation

Right, otherwise any 5K road race would be a route to a visa.
Oct 28, 2016 4:38 AM # 
This may not be the case with these people but the invitation to the event on the webpage should be sufficient. They should not need extra help.

Wrong. And shockingly ignorant for an official at this level. Not having a personalized signed invitation -- using a generic one from the webpage-- is a guaranteed US visa denial for a national of a country of "high security risk".
Oct 28, 2016 1:20 PM # 
I'm presently watching a movie in which they referred to it as 'the Ukraine' but then it is the American movie.
Oct 28, 2016 1:33 PM # 
Well, the research that another person and I did failed to find the names of the people related to the sport of orienteering. At the time, I felt that I was "right" and, given the research that I did I felt informed about the issue. In the future, other people can and will make the decision.
Oct 28, 2016 2:18 PM # 
IOF can't be wrong about no 'the'.
Oct 28, 2016 4:13 PM # 
Gnedov sent me samples of invitations he had received to other events in Europe. WIth those examples, I produced a letter that Ken reviewed. I sent it to Gnedov and he was happy with it. The letter described the event, listed the names of all the people included with birthdates and passport numbers, and mentioned their affiliation with the Ukrainian Orienteering Federation. I had to come up with something that looked like a letterhead since BAOC has never had any. If anyone wants to look at it as an example for their event, contact me.

Invitations are required for Americans traveling to Russia, I know, and probably Ukraine. So I wasn't surprised by the request.
Oct 29, 2016 2:27 PM # 
Americans (as well as Canadians and Europeans) traveling to Ukraine for short-term visits don't need a visa and therefore don't need an invitation either. It's a unilateral decision by Ukrainian authorities, somewhat unusual, as most of the visa agreements are reciprocal, but, of course, it makes practical sense.

This discussion thread is closed.