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Nicaraguan Consulate wasted three pages of my passport

March 28, 2013

Being a non-U.S. citizen I had to get a tourist visa to travel to Nicaragua. While other Central American countries (Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras & El Salvador) does not require you to get a tourist visa for a non-U.S. citizen, IF you have a valid (for 3 months) U.S./U.K./Schengen visa stamped in your passport, but Nicaragua does.

Firstly, the consulate website sucks! Big time. There is no information on documents required to get a tourist visa, does not even mention if you need one. So I sent an email to them popping the question and fortunately enough, got a reply in two days, with a list of documents and an attached visa application form.

Most of the documents were the usual anyone would require for any tourist visa – passport, photographs, application form, employment paystubs, bank statements, flight ticket and hotel bookings. The one document not mentioned in the list is a notarized letter to the consulate saying “I’m responsible for my own expenses for my tenure in Nicaragua. AND I will return to the United States upon leaving Nicaragua.”

You are not required to take an appointment, but once you reach the consulate, be prepared for a long wait depending on the number of people ahead of you. After a 45-minute wait, I sat in front of the Consular Agent for my ‘interview’. The agent looked at my documents and informed me that I had to get a financial support letter and get it notarized (see above). “What? That was not mentioned in the list you sent to me”, I said. Generously, she offered to type the letter in her computer and print it for me. I walked to the nearest notary and got the letter notarized – $10 spent!

Luckily, this time I could skip the line and walk right in to the agent’s office. She entered all the data in her computer, accepted the $40 in cash as visa fees and asked me to wait for ten minutes so she can return my passport with the visa stamped in it.

Although the process is relatively simple, they used up three pages on my passport!

Another 20 minutes and she returned my passport showing the page where my visa was stamped. All looked good and I headed out, without realizing that they had tried to stamp one page that didn’t get stamped well, and had used another pages. This was not the end… Here’s what it looks like and what happened:

NicaraguaVisa1 I was at the consulate on October 12 for the date of December 27 when I would be in Nicaragua. This is the first stamp that didn’t go well!
NicaraguaVisa2 This is the stamp two that seems perfect, but the text in the visa says – “El titular de este pasaporte esta autorizado a ingresar a Nicaragua en un plazo de 30 dias a partir de la fecha de expedicion y permanecer en el pais por un periodo de 30 dias.” (The holder of this passport is authorized to enter Nicaragua in a period of 30 days from the date of issue and remain in the country for a period of 30 days.) So they put the stamp date of October 12 on the visa, which meant that my visa would expire in 30 days. Agreed that it was my mistake not to read that and inform her about this error; but in my defense she told me that the validity of the visa starts the day I enter Nicaragua and lasts for 30 days; which was convincing.
NicaraguaVisa3 This is stamp three. I received an email from the consulate the next day saying they goofed-up on the date on the visa and realized that I will not be able to enter Nicaragua with that visa. So I must go back to the consulate to get a new stamp a few days before my departure. That’s when I visited them on December 11 for a final stamp!

Thankfully, the entry stamp was on the same page as the final visa!



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