Posted on 13.04.2012 in Belarus, News

Polish consulate in Minsk is now facing real siege of visa applicants

For last few months submitting documents to the Polish consulate in Minsk to be granted a visa has been  requiring an extraordinary effort and nerves of steel from the applicants.

The queue at the Polish consulate in Minsk between 13.00 and 14.00 recalls an oriental bazaar and waiting to get to one of three office’s windows makes decent-looking and calm in daily life people  encounter serious tenses.

The number of  Belarusians willing to come to Poland has increased significantly in past years. Recent devaluation and, as a consequence, serious decline in living standards, leads Belarusian citizens to count their money very carefully and to save them. In other words, a trip to Bialystok to buy TVs, diapers, meat and other goods, which in Poland are much cheaper, has become a necessity for many Belarusians,  mostly those more financially secured  in comparison with the rest of Minsk citizens.

Belarusian turist visa

Self-employed Alexander, who regularly travels to Poland for over 10 years for the goods tosupply his  market in a small town in the Mogilev region, said that the number of vehicles with Minsk registration on the border has increased.

Despite the fact that the visa costs 60 euros, which is a huge sum of money by the standards of Belarusians, Polish Consulate can not cope with the influx of visitors, as Polish consul admitted. In the interview published on the website of the Embassy, he said that the consular staff is not sufficient for the registration of all incoming requests for a visa.

Even the electronic registration forms, which was introduced last year, do not make the procedures easier. There is no free dates for registration, and to recognize when the available date appeares is very difficult. To register the application form, applicants come to the website several times a day for several weeks or even months. On the internet there have even appeared announcements proposing  the application form electronic filing service. For $ 40 to $ 100 per month you will be “helped” to register.

It is rumoured that the hackers, as soon as the available dates appear, lounch the program, which in a few minutes register all the free form, and then the questionnaires are sold.

Those wishing to obtain a visa deal with this problem in different ways: someone pays for registration, and some are trying to register the form in Brest, in the local consulate. There are workarounds, for example, you can send an e-mail to the consul, where it is necessary to explain why you can not register a visa and what you need it for. The consul, by the rule, gives a personal permission and lucky ones may submit their application in the window for applications for a national visa, though at the end of the queue – after all those who have registered properly. Many just ignore this part and, arguing that they had a letter from the consul stand there from the early morning,  try to omit the queue.

Polish Embassy in Minsk

But even getting to a window and having a resolution from the consul, the applicants can not always succeed. Each of the employees has his own admission criteria for the documents acceptance.  Mentioned earlier enterpreneur Alexander has been waiting in consulate for more than a week. For the first time the consulate worker was unable to read the digital code on the last page of the questionnaire, the next day he demanded an income statement, despite the fact that he had copies of the invitation and other necessary for him documents. On the same day  the same documents given in the next window were not taken, since there was no evidence of the original business, and the income statement he was not even asked for.

Belarusian Foreign Ministry does not allow to increase the staff of the Polish Consulate in Minsk  and in the meantime the European Commission decision is in no hurry to ease the visa regime for Belarusians. It turns out that to go to Poland, same as to the EU as a whole, for few hundreds of officers it is difficult because of the sanctions, and for thousands of ordinary Belarusians – because of the huge queues, and many other minor restrictions. Nevertheless, they are ready to storm the consulate to the bitter end, even in spite of the humiliation and damaged nerves.