Posts Tagged ‘visa’


Karlovy Vary: a Russian city in the Czech Republic

In Culture,Czech Tourism,Economy on November 1, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , ,

Karlovy Vary is a city in the Czech Republic. It is a famous spa town where the internationally famous Mattoni mineral water is produced and where the annual film festival is held.

But the strangest thing about this place is its strong Russian influence. It is a favorite tourist destination for people from Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet Union republics. Plus, many Russian businessmen opened their stores and other establishments here. Every once in a while a news story emerges about the negative aspects of the Russian influence, mostly represented by businesspersons who allegedly “ignore laws” (e.g. by building or renovating houses without proper permits, etc.). On the other hand, businesses that have ties to Russia or Russian owners give jobs to locals…

The town even has a Russian village where street signs are bilingual. Local people were shocked to find out that the village was built where a camp with a pool had been demolished.

And one can see the Russian presence on almost every main street in downtown Karlovy Vary, where even hair salons, post offices, hardware stores etc. have signs in four languages…


Czechs no longer need U.S. visa

In Economy,Law,Politics,Travel on November 17, 2008 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , ,

As of November 17 Czechs no longer need U.S. visa. The Czech Republic entered the Visa Waiver Program within which all one has to do is fill out an ESTA application.

However, some restrictions still DO apply but they are related to rather administrative procedures that potential travellers have to take care of themselves anyway. They need to have a special “chipped” (biometric) passport, and if they need a student visa they still need to visit the U.S. embassy as the VWP only applies to tourists/short time travellers.

Coincidentally this change comes in a time when the U.S. DHS no longer needs to be afraid of Czechs coming to the U.S. to seek illegal employment. With the financial crisis and all, I think the country no longer has this problem… Instead (just like ANY country, including the Czech Republic) it can be happy to have any number of tourists who decide not to save money and travel anyway.

But for some reason the prices of airline tickets did not plummet, even though the oil prices did. One-way PRG-JFK airline ticket still costs around CZK 18,000 (around $1,000)…

transcript from a press conference at USDHS, attended by Secretary Chertoff and the Czech PM and Interior Minister


U.S. visa regime ends November 17

In Politics,Travel,World on October 7, 2008 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , ,

It is really symbolical. As of November 17, which is the 19th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, Czechs can travel to the United States without visa.

They will still need to file an electronic application and wait for the embassy to send its yes/no. And they can still be sent home by an immigration officer once they have landed at JFK or ORD.

Michael Chertoff should come to visit the Czech Republic to sign the agreement on behalf of the U.S. government.


Some Czech Roma Decided To Misuse The Canadian Social System. Again

In Law,Politics on August 25, 2008 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , ,

About 500 Czech Roma went to Canada to seek asylum, the Pravo daily writes, quoting a memorandum of Interior Minister Ivan Langer. It is expected that this number will increase.

Approximately a decade ago we had the same situation, as a result of which Canada introduced visa for Czechs, in order to stop the influx. Czech Roma sought asylum claiming they had been discriminated. And while waiting for their applications to be processed, they were entitled to Canadian social benefits and many of them still kept their welfare benefits “back home”.

The Roma are making a huge mistake and I am afraid the majority society will develop even stronger negative attitude towards them: Czechs who decide to change their lives and live abroad NORMALLY find a job there and THEN they move. Or they just go there and offer their knowledge and experience, or just anything they have to offer.

Nope, many Czech Roma just go to Canada BECAUSE THEY KNOW how much the welfare benefits are. Ten years ago Canada introduced visa, by which its government said Roma had in fact been abusing the system. And now it’s back…

The discussion forum underneath the article has been cancelled. No surprise there…


Thousands Of Americans Are Here Illegally

In Law,Politics,World on March 5, 2008 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

Thousands of Americans are staying illegally in the Czech Republic. It is because of the new Schengen rules, the news server wrote on Monday.

There you have it. The fact that you do not know the law should not excuse you, a certain Czech saying says (it is rather poetic but the translation messes it up, so I won’t bother). Technically, the immigration police COULD start sending and deporting them home. The U.S. authorities that are run by DHS would do the same. Even with harmless Czechs who work in freeway diners, washing dishes. But then– who would do it, now that dollar costs 16 CZK…

Before the Czech Republic joined Schengen all that foreigners had to do was go to Germany for one day. On their way back their three-month visa-free stay could start all over.

But that is not the only problem, the news server discovered.

I bet, so did the foreigners but I guess they are just playing hide and seek and wait to see what happens… 

There is a new rule now: if they do not have permanent resident status, they are only allowed to stay three months out of six. So going across the Schengen border and coming back is no good anymore.

I still work, I still get paid, I still keep my apartment, I don’t need much from the system so I can live here and who cares, says my friend from New Hampshire who lives in Prague. Indeed. So tell me again, why do guys from INS hunt immigrants all over the States?

Czech authorities do have a tip for the Americans who are willing to solve the strange situation. They should ask for visa in advance because there can be a few-month waiting period during which the visa is processed. So if they know they are coming to work in the Czech Republic they should act ASAP. Those who already live here will probably have to live and work here illegally for some time.

Good luck there… I believe there are some laws that might contradict one another in certain situations. Let’s say you are a foreigner who works in the Czech Republic. You pay taxes. And you pay taxes even when you become illegal alien. You get injured. BUT HEY– all of a sudden your health insurance does not apply. Because illegal aliens shall pay their medical expenses in cash.

Let’s just add that the new policy is not limited to U.S. citizens….


Dollar Costs Almost 17 crowns

In Economy,Politics,World on February 25, 2008 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , ,

Among the reasons for tough U.S. visa regime against Czechs was the fear of illegal workers. Czechs did come to the States as tourists and they stayed as cheap labor.

That was back then, when one dollar used to cost 37 crowns and people who worked hard could bring home pretty good money.

Now, 1 dollar costs 16.86. I think the last reason for U.S. visa against Czechs is gone…

PM Mirek Topolanek is scheduled to meet GWB this week. They should discuss the visa-free regime that should be launched in fall…


Czech Republic To Deport Two Americans

In In The News,Law on February 11, 2008 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , ,

This is the most unique immigration-related issue I have ever heard of.

Two Americans face deportation after being caught by the Immigation Police, news server writes.

They had stayed longer than their visa had allowed them to. When caught, the two men suggested that they would not leave the country as ordered, so they were put in a custody cell, police source was quoted as saying.

IDIOTS. They have tourist-visa-free regime and they mess up with the system. They stayed three months longer. Extension of their original visa would not take much, though.

Before the Czech Republic joined the Schengen Treaty, all that Americans had to do was cross the border into Schengen and then go back. Let’s say, to Germany and back. Now they would have to travel very far, maybe to the Ukraine, the daily notes.


UPDATE: Visa Regime Likely To End This Year

In Politics,World on February 6, 2008 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged:

Czechs might travel to the States without the need to get visa this year, many sources and many media suggest. Representative of the United States Department of Homeland Security is in Prague (at least he was yesterday).

Dollar falling against Czech crown, the end of visa regime… U.S. Virgin Islands, here I come :)))


Articles Corruption At Czech Embassy In Belgrade

In World on January 31, 2008 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , ,

For over six months the Czech Foreign Ministry has been keeping secret that the operation of the Czech embassy in Belgrade, Serbia is almost totally halted in relation to visa regime(s) due to corruption, the Denik daily writes.

FM officials claim that most corruption-related practices in obtaining visa take place on the sidewalk outside the embassy where the embassy has no legal powers. Local mafia and individuals are involved in “helping” desperate non-EU citizens in getting long-term Czech visa. 

According to the ministry only Serbian employees were fired.

The scandal broke out in spring of 2007. One Czech employee wanted to obtain employment visa for his Serbian employees. While they had been waiting, other Serbians who signed up later got them sooner. Similar corruption-related practices were identified in Lviv, the Ukraine, or Hanoi, Vietnam. 
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