Friday, January 25, 2013

Applying for my first Tourist Visa



Recently I have discovered something more stressful than buying international plane tickets, more stressful than packing for a three-week trip, more stressful than reserving hotel rooms and squeezing a three-week itinerary into three days….

Applying for a tourist visa.

As a U.S. citizen I now fully realize how lucky I am to be able to visit dozens of countries without applying for a tourist visa in advance,  because the visa application process sucks. 

Now I know how much work my friends from China and India have to deal with all the time. Being at the mercy of a foreign embassy is an anxiety-inducing waiting game.

It is also surprising to me that I have traveled my whole life without ever having to apply for a tourist visa until now. It’s true, I have been able to just show up at every country I have visited. Although I did have two scares: once when I passed through London Heathrow on my way to Prague, a British Airways employee looked at my ticket and said, “Don’t you need a visa to go to the Czech Republic?” And after I just about fainted, he said, “Oh wait, never mind.”
Another time I was talking with an airport employee in Tokyo Narita, who was certain I needed a visa to go to Taiwan. Apparently this was true at one point, but more recently U.S. citizens can travel to Taiwan for 30 days without a visa, so I made it there after all.

No way around it this time. I’ve got to apply for a tourist visa.
And where am I going?

Pakistan.

Why? Well, I’ll get into that another time, but I will be attending the wedding of two good friends. God willing.

So what’s the problem? Why am I stressing out over this? Well, besides this being the first time in my life that I’ve had to apply for a visa, this application process is just slightly less rigorous than applying to grad school.

I submitted no fewer than the following items to the Consulate General of Pakistan:

  1. Complete visa application plus one copy
  2. Four photographs
  3. My original passport
  4. A check for $120
  5. A copy of my driver’s license
  6. An invitation letter from my friend’s father
  7. A copy of the wedding invitation
  8. A copy of my friend’s father’s Pakistani ID and passport
  9. Employment verification letter
  10. A letter from my supervisor stating that I have been approved for leave
  11. A copy of my resume
  12. A recent bank statement


Whew! Glad to be done with that. 

Wish me luck!

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