The stress levels generated from my fore mentioned domestic situation weren’t helped by the unfolding crisis with the ‘Cruise to the Edge’ set up. With the cruise being in international waters we were told there would be no necessity for visas however we needed ESTA forms for the flights and with a night in Tampa before we boarded complications arose.
Foss had applied for an ESTA a year previously for a family holiday in the US and had it refused as he had noted our trip to Somalia in 2013 on the application. As it had been denied he had to apply for a non immigration visa at the embassy and was told there could be a 6 month delay as he needed a waiver to be granted by the US consulate in Washington.He has had to pull out the gig on the cruise.
Thankfully John Beck was free and with no ESTA problems he is taking over from Foss on the 2 shows we are scheduled to play. As he already knows the ‘Clutching’ set it’s a relatively easy step in and he’ll be rehearsing the new ‘Weltschmerz’ material with the others in the run up to the trip. John’s cover is hugely appreciated by us all as a week ago the entire voyage was in jeopardy.
I too have to go to the US embassy in Belfast next week for a non immigration visa interview because of the gig in Mogadishu but as I have no previous rejections and 4 other US working visas in my last 5 visits there it should all be hopefully straightforward.
The principal reason for all this is that Somalia is a blacklisted country on the ESTA forms and despite us playing for UN AMISON personnel there we fall into the ‘catch all net’. If someone picked up on the visit at US immigration stateside we wouldn’t get into the country. I elected for the safe route and make sure I get on the ship.
Foss is understandably gutted by what’s happened and I feel desperately sorry for him but hats off to John Beck for stepping up to the plate.
My fingers are firmly crossed it all works out for my passport stamp.