(Image: Associated Press)
Like most over-fed, ignorant denizens of the first world, I’m not particularly knowledgeable about the social upheaval going on elsewhere. I’m vaguely aware that some terrible things are going on in Ukraine and Venezuela, but I don’t know the particulars. My heart goes out to those who live in conflict zones and find themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control, but I have less than a strong grasp of these situations.
In fact, the most I know about the unrest in Venezuela is it delayed Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez from getting to spring training on time. Last week, K-Rod was able to extricate himself and his immediate family from the turmoil in his homeland, and he reported to camp on Saturday.
While it’s good to know K-Rod is safe and sound, one detail from Adam McCalvy’s post on the subject piqued my interest:
Considering the circumstances, Rodriguez considers himself lucky to secure a visa the same day he applied. He is already two weeks late, and worried that another two-week delay might have impacted his game readiness for Opening Day on March 31.
“I was a little nervous about it, but thank God everything is in the past now and I can move forward,” said Rodriguez, who called the situation at home scary.
It does seem lucky to get a visa the same day you apply, particularly given the violent protests that have going on for weeks. Obviously, K-Rod has been in the majors for over a decade, and has been coming and going from Venezuela for some time. Perhaps that’s why his visa was approved so quickly?
Admittedly, I know nothing about typical immigration procedures. It just seems like same-day visa approval is extraordinarily efficient for government work. Is the visa application process as expedient for ordinary Venezuelans trying to leave the country?
It might be that the type of visa K-Rod needs is different than your average Venezuelan-on-the-street. Looking at the website of the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela, one would assume K-Rod needs a P-1 Visa for “Internationally Recognized Athletes/Entertainers.” For P visas, there’s apparently a five-step process that includes providing documentation, filling out an application, scheduling an appointment for an in-person interview, and ultimately receiving your visa via DHL. That seems like it would take longer than one day, even if you have agents/lawyers doing the paperwork for you.
As of this writing, this U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs website seems to indicate the visa appointment wait time for Caracas is two calendar days, plus another two working days for processing. Was K-Rod’s quick turnaround time the result of favoritism, simple misinformation, or am I missing something (always a possibility)?
To be sure, there is an Expedited Appointment process that may apply in certain circumstances, including “urgent business trip or meeting.” That may be all there is to it. Still, it would be interesting to know if K-Rod got preferential treatment due to his “Internationally Recognized” status.