Fun with Visas

We have some friends living abroad in London who have quickly found that non-U.S. citizens can sometimes run into all kinds of "fun" issues when trying to travel in the European continent. Below is what it's like to deal with multiple entry visas - something that Americans can be subject to, as well, when visiting countries like Saudi Arabia, Brazil or Russia. It's not an issue in Europe but we get to face these issues, as well.

Keep this in your back pocket so you can plan accordingly when planning for a visa...

As you know, - wait, maybe you didn't know- I am one year away to become a US citizen, therefore, I still carry my Ecuadorian passport wherever I go. For someone like an American citizen or an EU citizen, this situation shouldn't be familiar at all, but for me it's a huge pain in the neck every time I want to travel because I have to get a visa!

Yes, even with my husband's job in the UK, I still need to obtain a Schengen Visa to visit any of the 14 countries members of the EU. The task shouldn't be so painful if they would give me a 6-month multiple entry kind of deal, but unfortunately, so far I have only obtain visas worth the same length shown on my hotel booking reservation and my airplane ticket. Once the trip is over, the visa expires and there I am with another application ready for the next trip. That implies that every time I want to go somewhere, I should coordinate airplane tkts and hotel first before showing up at the consulate because that is the way they give you a tourist visa. Isn't that awful? There is a lot of money involved (100 dollars per application) and no room for spontaneous trips to Paris over the weekend.

The worse part of the story is that even though the Schengen Visa allows me to enter any of those countries, I can only ask for one at the consulate of the first port of entry of my visit, or the country of longer stay. They are very strict on their stuff. Most of the Consulates operate through an automated booking system, so you never know how long the next appointment would be. It's horrible! I'm telling you all this story because I knew I had to get a visa for my Italian adventure. I called the Italian Consulate to make an appointment with 6 weeks in advance and they gave me an available date that was 8 weeks from now!!! Fortunately, we live around the block from the consulate office so I had to go for several days to beg them to give an earlier appointment. They were pretty mad of my insistent pleas, but in the end they gave an earlier appointment for 5 days before the trip in June. I guess it's a lesson on perseverance and serious travel planning for Ecuadorians living abroad.

I guess I shouldn't complain because at least I'm not Colombian!

Check out some of the stuff it's required: http://www.esteri.it/visti/index_eng.asp

Being from Italy, I can just imagine what it was like dealing with the dreaded Italian bureaucracy. Imagine the same situation in Russia or another "less organized" country than Italy (yes, it's possible).

So, keep that in mind when you do your planning.

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blacksmoke said...
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