Reports | July 11, 2012 22:05

Van Wely denied entry to U.S. for lacking a work visa

Loek van Wely

On Monday night at Newark Airport Loek van Wely was denied to enter the United States because he "lacked a work visa". When the Dutch grandmaster told the authorities that, among other things, he was going to teach chess to American kids, they considered this an illegal working activity. As a result of that, Van Wely's entry was refused, he got detained, handcuffed and escorted by police to a plane and deported.

Monday, July 9th at 21.30 Loek van Wely arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport. He had just started a big trip to the USA. As always, at customs he was asked what he was going to do in the USA, and he explained that he would celebrate holidays, play poker, play chess and participate in two chess camps.

This attracted their attention,

Van Wely told us on the phone on Wednesday night.

I explained that I was going to teach kids chess, and they asked if I would be earning money with this. I said yes, and told them how much. Then they detained me.

Van Wely was held in a small room for eight hours, and had to hand over his mobile phone.

I was allowed to make one phone call, as if I was some dangerous criminal. I called the Duch consulate, but they couldn't help me,

said Van Wely. On Tuesday morning at 04:30 AM he was handcuffed and escorted to a terminal. There he had to wait for another 4.5 hours before he was escorted by police to a plane which flew him back to London. (He had also flown to Newark via London.)

Besides visiting Atlantic City, New York and Las Vegas, Van Wely was going to coach quite strong teenagers, rated between 2200 and 2500, in Saint Louis for a few days. Later he would also join a short chess camp in L.A.

Instead of considering this a noble act, they looked at this as an illegal working activity. (...) I was surprised I didn't end up in Guantanamo Bay,

Van Wely wrote on Facebook, where he revealed the whole affair in a status update on Wednesday.

The Dutch grandmaster said to us that he understands that a working visa is required for his coaching work.

However, the reaction was heavily exaggerated. The thing is, they are never bothered when you tell them you will play a chess tournament, and you have a chance to win some money. And for a chess player, making money with coaching comes down to the same thing, but for the authorities it's very different. They see coaching, much more than playing, as work.

Last year Van Wely also took part in a chess camp in Los Angeles, before playing in a tournament there.

I only started recently with these chess camps, so it's not a regular income or anything. And it was just going to be ten days; it's not that I was going to doing a lot of work in the States.

Van Wely is still trying to rearrange is trip and do the coaching.

I'll try to get a work visa. They said it shouldn't be a problem, but I'm expected to be in Saint Louis on July 22nd, so there is not much time.

Even if he won't do any coaching, from now on Van Wely will need to apply for a visa to visit the USA for the rest of his life. This is standard practice for travellers who have once been rejected.

At the chess camp in Los Angeles, Vishy Anand is also going to make an appearance – if the World Champion gets through customs, that is.

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Columbo's picture

you should not use the word " Nazi " here, nor " communist ".

cmling's picture

My dislike of the USA is once again increased. (This is a Texan speaking, so I think I am allowed to say this.)

valg321's picture

you are a rare breed sir

Septimus's picture

I have to disagree with you 100%. The USA is a beautiful country with friendly and open minded people. BTW, I've lived in TX for a bit and cannot say enough good things about the folks over there.

Matt's picture

Handcuffed.....what a disgusting country the us has turned out in the last few years....

PeterV's picture

United States of Hysterica

Anonymous's picture


Rambus's picture

What a scream! And this is only chapter 1.

Chapter 2 is when Vishy is clapped in irons and deported.

Ophelia Crack's picture

When I look at images of the planet from space there are no borders.

Time to stop such idiotic things such as nationalism and locking down borders,.

Columbo's picture

frontiers and nationalism are two different concepts Ophelia

Septimus's picture

I don't think the CBP (Customs and Border Patrol) /TSA (Transportation Security) can wave him through as they have rules to abide by. Everybody has rules to follow. But, handcuffing him and throwing him in an isolated room is a bit excessive and humiliating, not to mention inhuman.

I am sure there was some way to avoid all this unpleasantness. The big question is, WTF were the Dutch Embassy staff doing?? If anything, the whole lot of them should be sacked. If you can't help your own citizen, WTF (W=Why) are you managing a consulate?

Thomas's picture

I don't think any embassy can be of much help to their citizens breaking local laws abroad - maybe in more extreme cases if they face death penalty, but even then there's at least no guarantee.

Some years ago I witnessed on a Thalys high-speed train from Paris to Amsterdam how a dozen or so black people were handcuffed two by two and put off the train in Rotterdam (plausible speculation that they were illegal immigrants, and I don't know what happened next to them). The main difference with van Wely's case would be that "we" consider him a VIP - but people abroad who don't know or care about chess don't.

Septimus's picture

The least they can do is send a representative to make sure the person is being treated properly and has access to legal representation if need be. Was this done?

Ruben's picture

It is well known that the Dutch Embassy is doing very little for there own citizen, wores then allmost any other country. If a Dutchman comes in a jail somewhere in the world he must be very happy if he ever gets out.

Your Mamma's picture
Columbo's picture
uschess's picture

A whole lot of hating on the US of A...big surprise. It never ceases to amaze me how a country comprised of literally ppl from all other countries could be so hated. So the guy didn't get a work visa like he should've and they flew him out in less than a day, wow, riveting.

It's sad but outsiders might equate chess with class but clearly by the comments frequently made here or that is far from the case. could learn from and note allow every moronic post to actually be post.

Columbo's picture

I agree with you, plus Van Wely should complain to the people who hired him ...

But on the other hand, i take 100 planes every year and Newark Airport is the WORST of them all. Police here makes it very clear that they are not only around to check your papers but to shake your soul and bones as much as they can. They should change their way, have manners, you know ?!

valg321's picture

" could learn from and note allow every moronic post to actually be post."

was there. I got fed up with Nakamura's fan boys and Kasparov haters

Anthony Migchels's picture

" It never ceases to amaze me how a country comprised of literally ppl from all other countries could be so hated. "

Lol! Perhaps murdering millions of people all over the place and destroying the planet with Depleted Uranium ammunitions has anything to do with it?

But I don't hate americans, I just hate the Fed Govt. Jus tas i do the EU, btw and basically the dutch govt too, which is just another incredibly criminal outfit, just not so blatant and big as the Fed Govt.

Ruben's picture

Hahaha this is typical USA. Ones I was on Holliday in Mexcico, had a wonderfull time there,
but on the way back a had a stop between in WDC USA. Beause a women of the mexican customs took on mistake my visa while I still needed this in de USA ( I explaned her that but she did not want to hear it ) and yes in the USA I was as only one of the hole plane without a visa.
And landed in the row of the immigrands.
Big fun , I had to talk me out with all my charm.
It was because of a very nice girl that worked at the custom that helped me a lot and offerd me to celbrate independence day in case that I missed my plane. But I insisted that I wanted to cahts my plane and go back. And finaly I did so and just did not missed my plane that was still waiting for me but no for long anymore. It was a big stress and after that I decided never to set foot on the USA anymore. Because all the questions about drugs etc. made me real scared to end up in jail and never leave again! I would nobody ever advice to trafel to the USA.
Just keep out of this country Loek! You have seen how there are now! Lots of nice people live there but the state is crazy and dangerous!

Anthony Migchels's picture

""Just keep out of this country Loek! You have seen how there are now! Lots of nice people live there but the state is crazy and dangerous!"


valg321's picture

honesty doesn't pay

Anonymous's picture

yea. Europeans are so great. The same ones who gave us Hitler and Stalin

valg321's picture

"yea. Europeans are so great. The same ones who gave us Hitler and Stalin"

aahhh yesss the Hitler argument. I was waiting for that

Columbo's picture

in fact, Stalin was Russian, not European. Check your sources before barking

Niima's picture

Actually, Stalin was Georgian ;-)

Anonymous's picture

Not being a European genius like you, I did in fact check Wikipedia, and Russia is in fact Europe

geographer's picture

The bigger part of Russia lies in Asia

Barone's picture

Russia ends at the Urals, just like Europe. In asia there's Siberia, of which a part is included in the present day boundaries of the political country named Russia (which is what's left of the federal country once named USSR).
Europe gave very good and very bad persons and social movements, possibly more than any other part of the western world because of its central position in the geopolitical history of our planet: speaking about Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, etc. is completely moronic.

Anonymous's picture

USSR a federal country? I think it was more like a communist version of Russian Empire. Am I wrong?

Barone's picture

A federal country is still what it is independently by which kind of political regime reigns over it: someone wrote Stalin was not Russian because he was born in Georgia, a former republic of the USSR. The point is that Russia is completely inclosed in Europe, while Siberia is a part of Asia.
At the times of the Roman Empire France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, the Balcanic region, southern England... where all part of Rome: still Rome was only the city of Rome back then as it is now, and Italy still ended at the Alps. Today we have these politically designed boundaries for countries with their given names, but the geographical regions don't change as long as rivers and mountains don't change place.

With all this I'm not meaning Europe is good and US is bad, or the opposite.
Infact you could take note that the whole western world is getting crazy with nationalistic laws lately: a vain attempt to protect western deplating richness. But economy and migrations, beside being used as political propaganda by political parties, cannot really be stopped evolving by all the neo-fascist nonsense we're forced to digest in nowadays mass comunication system.

Anonymous's picture

USSR a federal country? I think it was more like a communist version of Russian Empire. Am I wrong?

valg321's picture

"Russia ends at the Urals, just like Europe. In asia there's Siberia, of which a part is included in the present day boundaries of the political country named Russia (which is what's left of the federal country once named USSR)."

last time i checked Siberia for the bigger part of it, if not all of it, belonged to Russia, and it has been so for some centuries now. It never constituted an ethnic or political entity by itself. So no, Russia does not end at the Urals.
European Russia on the other hand, does end where Europe ends.

Barone's picture

try asking a Siberian if he/she's Russian and viceversa.

For some reason unknown to me, you seem not to want to admit that the region called Russia ends at the Ural mountains, just like the European continent, so I'll stop trying: it make no sense and it's not related with the whole topic anyway.

But, for your path to illumination, think about this.
According to Chinggis Khaan, today's Russia and the whole eastern Europe, together with most of the Siberian region, the middle east countries, Persia, and most of China were just parts of Mongolia: this imho is an example of the way you seem to think about countries and geographical reagions.

Good luck to all the people who'll venture in a conversation with you!

Anonymous's picture

Ok will you take Mussolini then? Lol

Anonymous's picture

At least we agreed Hitler was European. Happy now?

KingTal's picture

Wow, so little knowledge this guy(Columbo) does have. First: Stalin is georgian, second: Russia is part of Europe, third: he didn´t even bother to check the sources himself... and the reason is simple, he is American, bwahahaha. I´m sorry, but that comment made my day. xD

valg321's picture

"in fact, Stalin was Russian, not European. Check your sources before barking"

@ columbo: jesus man you're making an ass of yourself. At least have the decency to check your OWN sources before rapping someone else for not checking theirs, what are you like twelve?

Anthony Migchels's picture

Americans are Europeans.

But the European governments are not so powerful, so don't go around the globe raping, plundering, bombing and maiming millions upon millions of people.

But wait till the EU has centralized enough and gets its own army!

Septimus's picture

It is really sad to see so many people here blackballing a country and its people without any objectivity whatsoever. This is not the way to go guys...

Columbo's picture

agreed ! the only subject here is : VAN WELY SHOULD COMPLAIN TO PEOPLE WHO HIRED HIM ! Otherwise, this blog will end with people talking about stalin, hitler, nazi, communist, and the 1000 names given to ignorance

Anonymous's picture

Agreed. And stop with the US bashing too

Anthony Migchels's picture

nonsense, the Americans should wake up and smell the napalm their government is dropping all over the place.

Dutch Inquisitor's picture

Van Vely was provocative towards the officers and that's why he got what he deserved (getting hand- cuffed). Americans have become too lenient under Obama, normally they should have burnt the Dutch to the stake. Not for his illegal attempt to entry the US, but for his lousy chess play. Van Vely really sucks.

Septimus's picture

Sarcasm I take it?

Hans's picture

Of course the Americans under us support their country but also I have some time ago decided never to go there again. It is simply too scary. Torture is legalised and the whole country is one big police state. Of course nice people are livingthere too. But being nice while others are brutally tortured and mistreated is not enough.

Septimus's picture

Dude, put down the crack pipe.

Columbo's picture

Hans ? What in the hell are you talking about EXACTLY ?

Barone's picture

Some officer with not more than a couple of still working neurons in his head would have informally told Van Wely that he might want to reconsider his statement: for example, just saying he was to give letures in St.Louis would have been enough to prevent all this flying monkeys' circus.
Laws are based on general assumptions, and are usually written aiming at some specific social problem: officiers are obviously not given judges' discretional freedom and duties, but it's implicitly required for them to use some judgment also, in a human rights' based society. Otherwise we could use softwares instead of persons to check documents at the airport!


Latest articles