Thursday, April 28, 2011

Visas coming through

My Indian, Vietnamese, and Cambodian visas have been processed, issued, and obtained! Next up is Brazil and possibly China...

The process of obtaining Visas can be an exercise in patience. Ideally, you'd want to be able to enter and exit any country as you please, but diplomatic relations between two countries affect whether there is a requirement for you to obtain a Visa - permission to enter a country. The process can take many days, and you probably should practice humility when dealing with a country's consulate...since they basically have the ultimate say in whether you will be granted permission to enter their country.

You are able to obtain Visas in various ways - either at the airport, printed off the internet, through a third party agency, directly at the consulate, or through snail mail. Each country has their own requirement.

As of now, I am trying to obtain as many visas as I can while I'm still in the United States, so I don't have to take any travel time applying at a consulate in another country. The Vietnamese and Indian Visas were obtained in San Francisco since their consulates were located there. The Cambodian Visa was obtained on their website and printed out. The Brazilian and Chinese Visas will be obtained in Los Angeles at their respective consulates. I believe most Walk-Up appointments for Visas take anywhere from 2-5 business days.

The quickest way to figure out whether a Visa is required is to go to the DOS Travel Website, click on the country you are interested in, and then scroll down to the "Exit/Entry Requirements". Here are notes I wrote regarding each country I may visit:

Vietnam - May obtain a VOA (visa on arrival) at the airport or at the Vietnamese consulate prior to travel. They have options to obtain 1 month single or multiple entry, or 3 month single or multiple entry.

Thailand - No Visa required if staying fewer than 30 consecutive days, and less than 90 days total in a 6 month period.

Cambodia - E-Visa can be obtained online. 30 days, single entry for $20 + $5 processing fee.

Indonesia - Visa required. VOA may be obtained for private, temporary, pleasure visits. $25 for a 30 days.

Philippines - No Visa required. Maximum stay of 21 days.

Burma - Visa required. $30 + $40 processing fee. Can obtain through snail mail application to the Consulate in Washington DC. I plan on obtaining my Burmese Visa in Thailand, as I hear it is quicker and more convenient. Also, I heard that you must show proof of having at least $300 USD when arriving at the airport.

Laos - Can obtain Visa at airport. Need 2 passport photos. $35 for 30 days.

India - You must go through a third-party outsourcing company, or apply by mail. The fee is $60 (for 6 month multiple entry) + $13 processing if applying through the third-party company. Family members may submit the documents on your behalf. I had my sister bring it in for me and the process took 24 hours. Pretty quick turnaround.

Nepal - Visa can be obtained at the airport upon arrival. $25 for 15 days, $40 for one month, and $100 for three months. Apparently, 2011 is the Year of Tourism in Nepal.

Greece - Based on the Schengen Agreement, which was a treaty that was signed to create Europe's borderless "Schengen" area, operating as one state for international travelling purposes, travel is free for 90 days.

Turkey - You can obtain a 90-day Visa sticker at any port of entry for $20.

Czech Republic - Schengen Agreement (See Greece)

Spain- Schengen Agreement (See Greece)

Germany - Schengen Agreement (See Greece)

Morocco - No Visa required for 90 days.

Brazil - Based on reciprocity, $140 is charged for a 90 day Visa.

Argentina - $140 for a Visa if you enter through the Ezeiza or Jorge Newbery Airport. You can avoid the fee if you enter from a different place, either on land, or in another airport.

Peru - No Visa required.

One issue that will come up for a "round the world" traveler like myself is the requirement upon arrival at customs of proof of your plans to leave the country. I assume this is done to ensure that you don't plan on coming to work in the country and end up staying there. Most people show their return airplane ticket as proof, but I will have a problem, since I won't have a roundtrip ticket anywhere. Some people have suggested that I created a "planned" itinerary from expedia or and present it, even though I haven't really purchased a ticket, but sadly, I think I will just have to plan both my means of entry and exit into a country prior to arrival...

Another issue that will come up is whether I will have enough pages in my Passport. You can purchase additional Visa Pages for your passport for $82 dollars, but the process takes around 5-6 weeks! I'll just cross my fingers for now and hope that I have enough space in my passport. If not, I'll have to go to the US Embassy in whatever country I'm in...

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