My Visa Adventure

When you visit a different country, you usually need to have a document called a visa. When I visited England, Ireland, and Scotland in 2003, I didn’t need a visa, so I wasn’t exactly sure why I needed one to go to China.

I couldn’t find a clear, brief reason why I need to have a visa when I already have a passport, but here is the best unofficial explanation I can come up with.

Because I live in the United States, I hold a US Passport. I sent my birth certificate and information about me to the state department, and they checked to make sure I could be trusted outside of the country.

United States Passport

United States Passport

But I’m traveling to China, and they want to check me out too. So I needed to apply for a Chinese visa. I sent my US Passport and some other information about me. Chinese officials see that the US trusts me to travel out of the country, and their embassy decides if I can be trusted in their country.

Visa from China

Visa from China

But applying for my visa turned out to be a perfect application of Murphy’s Law, which states that everything that can go wrong *will* go wrong.

First of all, I thought I only needed my passport to get a visa. Not quite. So this morning, I checked with one of the teachers I’m traveling with and realized I also needed an application form and a passport picture. However, I didn’t have any ink in my printer. It was Sunday morning, so the library and Kinko’s were closed until noon. But I needed to meet with the visa folks at noon. (You can’t just mail in a visa application)

So I drove to Walgreen’s to get my photo taken. While they were processing the photo, I drove to Best Buy to get some printer ink. I stopped at home, where I set up the printer, took care of my application form, and printed everything out. Then I went to Walgreen’s to pick up my photos.

My visa photo

My visa photo

Off to Bellevue. Except that the I-5 exit ramp to 520, which is the closest bridge to Bellevue, was closed. The traffic was miserable. I continued down to I-90, and Toby helped me modify my directions by phone. I approached the office. 62 Lake Bellevue Drive, 23 Lake Bellevue Drive, 9 Lake Bellevue Drive, but 1 Lake Bellevue Drive was nowhere! A dead end!

Sooooooo, I called Toby again to give me the number of the visa office. I called, wound up being a block away from the building, and I arrived safe and sound.

We had everything taken care of in about 15 minutes flat! What a whirlwind day… And all that happened in the two hours between 10:30 and 12:30.


2 thoughts on “My Visa Adventure

  1. Sheesh! I guess it depends on the country … Jake’s sister also had a hard time with her visa to visit Russia/Ukraine while at MSU.

    Ours wasn’t so bad. We applied for them when we arrived here, though we did have to collect 23443214 documents and passport photos. But we got them and it worked out fine. Glad yours did, too!

  2. My adventure was really due to my own personal lack of planning, though. šŸ™‚ And I can’t believe they let you come to Germany for so long with no visa beforehand — I would have had to do a whole separate application if I wanted to stay longer than a month or so…


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