Bitcoin entrepreneur Roger Ver has been effectively locked out of his native USA after this week being denied a non-immigrant visa for the third time.
Ver, who publicly gave up his US citizenship in 2014, was planning to speak at the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami from 16-18th January.
He tweeted the following message to his 18,800 followers:
— Roger Ver (@rogerkver) January 6, 2015
Ver told CoinDesk that despite rejecting his application three times at $160 per application, officials have refused to examine documentation and evidence he provided to support his case.
While it is not possible to appeal against the decision, Ver is permitted to apply again from scratch.
Illegal immigrant concern
The official reason for rejection, as stated by the US embassy in Barbados, was that Ver could not demonstrate sufficiently that his ties to any country other than the US were strong enough for him to leave the US.
The rejection stated:
“One of the most common elements within the various nonimmigrant visa requirements is for the applicant to demonstrate that they have a residence in a foreign country which they have no intention of abandoning … You have not demonstrated that you have the ties that will compel you to return to your home country after your travel to the United States.”
Effectively, the Immigration Service is concerned that he may try to overstay his visa and become an illegal immigrant in his home country.
Embassy officials reportedly refused to even look at documentation regarding the business Ver started in Japan in 2006, or any of the other nine years worth of history he has with that country.
“They wouldn’t even let me slide the documents regarding Japan through the slot in the window,” he added.
Ver’s parents, siblings and extended family all live in the US, including one uncle he says “has stage-four cancer and the odds are very bad”.
Former US citizen
Famous for his libertarian/anarchist political views, Ver became a citizen of the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, a small Caribbean nation, in February 2014 and handed in his US passport a month later.
A frequent attendee and guest speaker at bitcoin conferences worldwide, he makes a point of wearing a ‘borders are imaginary lines’ T-shirt when going through immigration at airports.
Asked whether his decision to renounce his US citizenship might have been a mistake in hindsight, he said:
“I checked with lawyers very carefully before I renounced, and they clearly assured me that I will qualify for a visa to visit the USA. I would be fine with them denying my visa if it was for a valid reason, but they are either lying, ignorant, or stupid when they claim that I plan to secretly overstay my visa and live as an illegal immigrant in the USA.”
Ver initially left the US almost nine years ago, after serving a 10-month prison sentence and three years’ probation for selling agricultural firecrackers online. Since then he has resided mainly in Japan, and has not visited the US for nearly a year.
Despite his record, Ver said he has not had difficulty gaining access to any other country, including the notoriously strict Japan.
Image courtesy Roger Ver