Kharkiv developer wins ticket to Apple event, but gets refused a U.S. visa

In May last year Oleg Dreiman, a student from Ukraine, won a scholarship to attend WWDC, the largest conference of Apple for developers. He applied for a visa twice and was denied both times. A year later, the story repeats itself. A developer from Kharkiv, Vladislav Kornieiev, won in Apple’s lottery and got a ticket to this year’s WWDC that will be held on June 3-7. However, the embassy has refused him a visa, despite the letter from Apple, tickets and other documents confirming the purpose of the visit. Vladislav shared the details of this story with AIN.UA.

How to win a ticket to WWDC?

Apple holds WWDC every year. The number of conference participants is limited, whereas the number of applicants is huge. That is why the company holds a lottery among potential participants. If a developer has been selected, his/her account is charged the cost of the ticket ($1,599) and he/she receives an invite. This year’s registration began on March 14, 2019. A week later Apple determined the winners and sent the invites. Vladislav was one of the few lucky to get the ticket, and on March 27 he received a letter from the company.

“For me, being a developer, attending the conference is a dream come true, but the U.S. Embassy had its own plans,” Vladislav laments.

Visa problem

After getting the invitation, the developer began collecting all the necessary documents to apply for a visa, paid the visa fee and made an appointment with the embassy. On April 15, he came to Kyiv to have an interview at the U.S. Embassy.

According to him, he had all the required documents, including the invitation from Apple, payment slip for participation in the event, air tickets, accommodation details in the U.S., account statements, the letter from employer Grid Dynamics, and copies of property titles. He also included this information in DS-160 (visa application form).

However, the embassy’s officer did not ask him to show any of the said documents. Instead, the officer inquired about the purpose of the visit and whether the applicant covered the trip expenses himself.

“I said that I paid from my own pocket, and then I was asked, “Why did you pay but not your company?” I answered honestly “Because that was my decision, I planned beforehand to spend money on this event.” No other questions were asked. 30 seconds later he handed me a paper and said: “You are denied to enter the U.S.” Those were the most unpleasant words that I have heard recently,” Kornieiev says.

The official letter states that the reason for ineligibility is article 214 b of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act – i.e. there are doubts that the applicant will leave the U.S. According to the developer, in the past couple of years he has visited Europe multiple times, he has no violations and he does not understand why he was denied. The set of documents also contained papers confirming his employment and property ownership in Ukraine, but as we pointed out above, the embassy did not take them under consideration.

What’s next

The developer’s chances to attend the conference are very low now. You cannot appeal the decision of the embassy; you can only apply for a visa again. However, when he tried to go this way, his interview was appointed on June 11, whereas the conference ends on June 7.

“There’s no point for me to go to the embassy because by that time the conference will be over. The only way out is a request to expedite the visa issue, but you cannot do it without a valid reason (for example, health issues), and I don’t want to deceit anyone… But the hope springs eternal,” Kornieiev says.

Oleg Draiman from the previous year’s visa story got lucky. He managed to get the visa and attend WWDC-2018 after his story was published.

Update: at least one more user has reported having the same troubles with WDC-2019: