So, remember when I first arrived in Bolivia and had some trouble getting my Visa????
And then when I finally DID get my Visa, it was only a 30 day Visa
instead of the usual 90 day Visa????
CLICK HERE to refresh your memory.
Since my 30 days is coming to an end, my Visa expires on the 29th of January...two days away. I have been dreading going back to get my Visa renewed because I knew that it was going to be difficult. However, several friends encouraged me to go ahead and go a few days early to ask what I need to do to get it renewed.
This morning, we called Immigration and asked for information on what I need to renew my Visa. They said that the couldn't give me any information over the phone and that I would have to come to the Immigration office and visit "Window 11"...I could already tell this was going to be an "adventure". While I was getting ready to go and putting all my documents in my bag, I was thinking "Please let the Immigration Officer be a man...women are always SO much more difficult".
We walked to the Immigration Office, entered the building and went straight to Window 11. There was a man and a woman sitting there together. I leaned over the desk so that I could be heard over the chaos and said "I need to renew my Visa". Here is what happened next:
Immigration Woman (IW): Show me your passport.
---I handed her my passport and thought, "Of course the woman is the one that is going to help me."
IW: You need all of your required documents.
Me: What required documents?
IW: Copy of your passport, copy of your Visa, letter of invitation, photo of yourself, copy of your flight schedule and a copy of your yellow fever shot.
Me: I already gave all of those documents to the airport Immigration to get my Visa.
IW: They gave them back and you should have them with you.
Me: No, they kept them and I don't have them anymore.
IW: Well, you can't get a Visa without those documents.
Me: The first time I got my Visa 30 days ago, I had all of those documents...thats how I got the Visa. So, why do I need to show all of the same documents again just to renew the same Visa?
IW: Those are the requirements.
Me: Well, I don't have those document copies anymore since they took them at the airport.
IW: Then, I can't give you a Visa.
Me: Ok, what do I need to do?
IW: Go see that man over there.
---I looked around at the 200 people in the room and wonder what man she is talking about.
Me: What man?
IW: In that office.
Me: What office? Straight ahead?
---I walked straight ahead into that office and waited in line until "that man" was able to see me.
That Man (TM): What do you need?
Me: To renew my Visa.
TM: Go to Window 11.
Me: I was just there and they told me come here.
TM: Let's walk over there together.
---I followed him back to Window 11.
TM: Why did you send this girl to me to renew her Visa?
IW: She doesn't have any of her documents.
TM: She has her Visa already, just stamp the date and get her money to renew it.
IW: No, she needs her documents and she doesn't have them. She said that the airport Immigration kept them.
TM: Well, the man from the airport is coming today...let her sit and wait on him.
---The man walked away and the woman moved on to the next person.
Me: Excuse me, what am I supposed to do?
IW: Wait for the man from the airport.
Me: Wait where?
IW: Here (she just motions to the 50 people that are sitting in the middle of the room).
Me: When is he coming?
Me: So, I am supposed to just sit here and wait all day for him to show up.
IW: Because you said that you left your papers at the airport Immigration.
Me: How will he help me?...he won't have my old documents and photocopies with him.
---She just stares at me.
Me: Just tell me exactly what I need in documents and photocopies and I will go get them again.
IW: Copy of your passport, copy of your Visa, letter of invitation, photo of yourself, photo of the person who invited you, copy of their Carnet (ID card), copy of your flight schedule and a copy of your yellow fever shot.
---I noticed that she added "photo of person who invited me" and "photocopy of their Carnet (ID card)" to the list of requirements, even though she didn't name those when she first talked to me...
Me: Can you please write down those things so that I can remember.
---She opens her desk draw and shuffles through a bunch of old pens, trash, paperclips and scrap paper...then she pulled out their Visa list of requirements...how they stay organized amazes me.
IW: Here is a list of the requirements to get your Visa.
---She marked by the ones that are "officially required" and then told me the extra ones that I'm pretty sure that she just made up herself.
IW: The cost is 2,500 Bs to renew your Visa (this is a little over $350).
Me: No, that's not the correct amount.
IW: Yes, if you want your Visa, you have to pay that amount.
Me: At the airport I paid much less and was told a different amount...the amount you are telling me today is not correct.
IW: How much did you pay at the airport?
Me: $55 for a 30 day Visa.
IW: I'll go ask.
---She walked away and I was fuming. Not only was she telling me her own unofficial requirements for me to renew my Visa, but she was also trying to swindle $300 from me.
IW: You were correct about the price.
---She scribbled out the 2,500 Bs and wrote down 360 Bs. in it's place. She picked up the paper and handed it to me with this smirk on her face...she knew that I knew that she had just tried to pull one over on me.
Me: So, you are telling me that if I bring every single document and photocopy, plus the extra things that you named and my money, you will give me a Visa.
Me: So, if I come tomorrow with all of those things, I can get my Visa tomorrow.
---Window 11...see you tomorrow...
|"The Official Requirements Document" that the Immigration Woman pulled out of her desk...|