No visa for Paris...for one night!
Some of you will have kept up with the fact that we have been "hosting' (in a low key way .. he has really been hosting himself) a friend of the daughter's from South Sudan. Samuel has been doing a Master's course at the University of Westminster, in teaching English to speakers of other languages (on a scholarship . which he wanted to take up, because English is the official language of South Sudan, yet most children there don't have it as their mother tongue).
We have got to know Samuel well over the last nine months. And to celebrate him submitting his dissertation, we promised we would take him for a trip to Paris. There were various reasons for this. Noone knows when, if ever, he will be able to come back to Europe, and we felt very keen that he should see another European country while he was here (partly so that he had that experience, and could share it, when he went back to teach in South Sudan). But the fact is that in his home country, Samuel had done the history of Napoleon for A level. He actually knows rather more about the Arc de Triomphe than we do, and we wanted to show him what it was like face to face.
We cant, because he has been refused a visa to go to Paris for just one night.
This is the story.
I booked a return ticket for Samuel (along with all the family) from London to Paris and back; I also booked and paid for a hotel. Samuel booked health etc insurance for himself. He took all these documents along for his interview. Yet even so the visa refusal comes back saying that his visa application has been turned down:
"you have not provided proof of sufficient means of subsitence <sic>, for the duration of the intended stay or for the return to the country of origin or residence, or for the transit to a third country into which you are certain to be admitted, or you are not in a position to acquire such means lawfully"
Now hang on. I accept that I wasn't there at Samuel's interview, so I don't know exactly what took place. But, so far as I know, he produced a return ticket on the Eurostar, a paid hotel booking and insurance documents. How many pounds did he have to have in his bank account for heavens sake to show that (even without his English "family") he could support himself in Paris for just over 24 hours?
I feel at a total loss. Samuel applied in very good time (well over 6 weeks ago I think), but there is now no time for us appeal to the postal address in Nantes. I have emailed the French consulate (and am hoping for a reply), but I am not optimistic about the reply (if I get one). I now feel guilty that I didnt provide a formal letter of guarantee --but it was only a night, I thought.
If anyone has any bright ideas, please help.
What good is this serving... a young man from South Sudan (a country that needs all the help we can give it), wants to go for one night to Paris, provides ample evidence that he has return travel and accommodation .. and is still refused a visa.
Samuel, I know, is hugely grateful for the scholarship that has brought him here. But I can only imagine that the refusal to allow him to go to Paris for a day and a half will give him a sad taste in his mouth.
And it is surely bonkers.