MySQL employee Australian Visa refused for unfair competition? - Updated
Update - In our original posting we said that Kaj Arnö had not been allowed a visa. Commenting on our forums, Kaj Arnö has asked us to clarify that is was not himself, who had the Visa refused, but other individuals, who's identity he wishes to protect.
Kaj Arnö, MySQL Community VP, has said that a number of Sun Microsystems employees, have been denied short stay business visas to Australia, apparently because "they have been seen to be competing with local Australian businesses unfairly". Arnö was due to be representing MySQL at linux.conf.au, but because of the denial of these visas, he has decided he will not be attending the conference, being held in Hobart, Tasmania, on the 19th to the 24th of January.
Arnö expands on the details in comments posted on his blog. Officially, the visa denial was limited to just "SHORT TERM BUSINESS ETA APPLICATION WAS NOT APPROVED NO AUTHORITY TO TRAVEL TO AUSTRALIA HELD BY PASSENGER." For context, he also quoted an anonymised IRC transcript from August 2008 between a Sun Microsystems employee and an un-named Australian who claimed that –
I have filed a complaint with the Australian competition and
immigration authorities regarding MySQL’s activities here. I
don’t expect the americans to apprecaite the intricacies of
extracting money out of the country to the detriment of local
workers but Austrlaia feels rather strongl about that. that
will affect MySQL. What might affect you is the immigrtion
issue. There is no valid visa for what you’d be doing here;
if intercepted you can be sent back home".
The unnamed person suggested that "a short term business visa is only relevant if there is no local expertise on the subject matter. which is not the case here." and went on to suggest that MySQL was "behaving very badly here" and that he was taking action "before it does hurt my business". Arnö says he cannot be certain that the incidents are connected, but leaves readers to draw their own conclusions.
A further comment by a poster to Arnö's blog suggests that this may all be a misunderstanding, related to the purpose and processing of Australian on-line Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) visas. Apparently it is not unknown for ETA visa applications to be automatically rejected for very trivial reasons and an application in person for a normal visa often resolves the problem.