An online virtual reality sex worker was left confused and frustrated when, after applying for a United States tourist visa, she said she received a letter explaining she was “permanently ineligible” for admission to the U.S. The reason given was “prostitution.”
In online VR games like VRChat, players can hang out, chat, play mini-games, explore player-created worlds, and even attend in-game concerts and parties. Of course, this being the internet and humans being horny, some users also engage in sex in these VR spaces, so sex work naturally follows. Hex is one of those users. She makes a living in VRChat as an online sex worker, hosting shows in-game and posting photos and videos to her Fansly page. She also streams herself using a custom avatar that tracks her movements in real-time. Most of her content on Fansly is virtual, though she does post some IRL nude images, too.
Hex, who lives in the UK, recently talked to Motherboard about her frustrating experience with U.S. immigration authorities, who denied her access to the country while she was trying to get a temporary tourist visa to visit friends. Hex told Motherboard that when she explained what she does for a living, the response was pretty negative.
“When I was at the interview, I told [the officer] everything as my Fansly is virtual reality content from a game called VRChat, I do post IRL pictures of me via a paywall and I do not meet anyone IRL from that platform,” Hex explained.
She said that, in response, the woman she was talking to gave her a “very dirty look.” Hex then explained further, telling the officer that all of her work was done in a “virtual game” using VR headsets. But according to Hex, the woman interviewing her “didn’t understand anything” and asked her if she ever meets these people in real life, to which Hex said, “absolutely not.”
That didn’t matter, apparently, and Hex was denied access to the United States. Later Hex received an official letter informing her that her application for a visa had been denied due to “prostitution.”
Clement Lee, the Associate Director of Immigration Legal Services at the Urban Justice Center’s Sex Workers Project, told Motherboard that the U.S. denying sex workers access to the country is a pretty common occurrence. And while Hex doesn’t technically meet the legal definition for prostitution found in U.S. immigration laws, that sadly doesn’t really matter.
“...There’s nothing legally preventing U.S. immigration authorities or the Department of State, with very little evidence or no evidence at all, from presuming that a person who does online sex work may also do in-person sex work as well, leading to a denial of a visa to the United States for ‘engaging in prostitution,’” explained Clement. In fact, he further told Motherboard that for tourist visas, the U.S. can deny anyone for any reason at all, or even for no reason.
Making matters worse for sex workers like Hex is that there is “remarkably little recourse” for someone denied a tourist visa. Often people aren’t even given a written explanation for why they were denied, and instead just have to try again and hope for a different outcome.
Hex isn’t giving up. She still wants to see her friends and also told Motherboard: “I want to clear my name and get this resolved as it’s unfair and not true.” Hex says she did recently receive an email from the London non-immigrant visa office and so is hopeful, but still understandably confused, by the whole situation.
Kotaku’s reached out to Hex for comment.