Let me start by a recap of what the process looked from my point of view:
- My close colleague gets his visa rejected. He is a seasoned Australia visitor, so I assumed (and still assume) he knew what he was doing.
- We connect the dots between the rejection and an IM discussion from August 2008 (see comment #29 on my blog), related to competition and Sun employees being let into Australia. Due to the nature of how visa rejections work, I cannot prove this is the case (even with the additional information I have by now), but my current best guess is still that the rejection happened in the aftermath of the discussion in comment #29.
- I blogged my frustration, sticking to the facts, except that I didn't make it clear that the ground for rejection (competitiveness) was not given by the Australian immigration authorities, but inferred by ourselves observing the pattern (= no rejections prior to the competitiveness chat).
- Comments of support start flowing in. Full of sympathy, most people are puzzled by the rejection. Some infer a conspiracy related to an Australian anti-open-source agenda. I am taken by surprise by the level of interest.
- Interest by journalists start appearing, in Australia and overseas. Soon, I am no longer surprised.
- I add clarifications. More details to the facts. And I add the exact reason for why I referred to competitiveness (comment #29).
- I get plenty of email support from within Sun. "How can we help?" Three direct reports of our CEO Jonathan Schwartz are in email contact with me.
- I get a comment from the Australian immigration authorities (Sandi Logan, NatComms Mngr, Immigration, Canberra, comment #45). She clarifies how the rejectee should approach the embassy upon rejection, and goes into what the usual rejection reasons are.
- The person whose visa was rejected goes to his Australian embassy. While he still doesn't get a reason for why his visa was rejected in the first place, he is cleared and won't experience issues the next time.
I can tell you I most definitely didn't expect to get nearly 50 comments on this blog entry, nor to end up on Heise and The Register, nor to be contacted by several members of Sun's Executive Leadership Team. So I learned a couple of lessons from this blog entry:
- The Internet loves a scandal. If there is a distinct smell of injustice, people will show both interest and support.
- Australians are friendly. I knew that already, but getting a comment from the immigration authorities on my blog, that was a lot more than I had expected.
- Blog phrasing sometimes has to be very fine tuned. Had I known the amount of attention the blog post would get, I would have been explicit from the beginning about competition being an inferred reason that I cannot objectively prove.
- The supportive reaction within Sun Microsystems gave me, and above all the guy whose visa was rejected,Ã‚Â an extremely warm family feeling, resembling that of a much, much smaller company. This even more remarkable given that Sun is in the middle of a painful reduction in force.
Hence, a big Thank You is due (in no particular order)
- to all the commenters from Australia and elsewhere
- to the journalists (in Australia and overseas)
- to Sandi Logan and the Australian immigration authorities
- to the Sun Microsystems Executive Leadership Team
for your sympathy, support and personal attention!