Saturday, February 24, 2018

Visa advice (for Chile)

Mackenzie Yaksic
PUCV (Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile)

The process that I went through for obtaining my Visa was nothing short of hellacious, to put it bluntly. But I learned from my experience and hope to help others who are applying for a Visa to Chile. 

Tip #1: Start early
We started the application process around two months before my trip, but with the complications that we had and the miscommunications between the embassies and us, I only received my Visa two weeks before I left, and only after I made trips to D.C, Miami, and Atlanta. Start the process as early as you can, because the embassies take a long time to process everything and respond. 

Tip #2: Read and reread the necessary components of the application
Chile requires you to upload a lot of paperwork in certain forms (pdf, I think), and the documents need to be precise and exactly what they're looking for. I had to redo my application (the first time)  simply because my photo was too pixilated. So, make sure you know that your documents are correct and what the embassy is asking for. 

Tip #3: Reach out to the embassy (repeatedly) after you turn in your application in all of the listed forms of communication-- this may be the most important tip!!
When my application was first denied because of my picture, I did not find out until I physically went to D.C (which is the wrong embassy to apply to if you live in Tennessee, another miscommunication) a month after I applied. The email that the embassy sent back to me was never received in my email, so I was a month behind on the process just because I did not receive one important email and did not reach out to the embassy. Tip #3 is very important. If you think you're being excessive or annoying about the emails, calls, faxes and letters, send at least one or two more emails and faxes. It might not make the employees the happiest of people, but it will surely get their attention and respond. So, call them, leave voicemails, fax them, email them, and even send letters to all of the addresses, phone numbers, and fax numbers that they provide on their website. 

Tip #4 Double and triple check which embassy you need to apply to
A former student passed along information that I could work with the consulate in D.C and that they're faster workers, but only after I applied for a second time with a correct picture did I find out that they strictly do not allow people from outside their jurisdiction from applying to their consulate. Make sure you know which consulate represents your state. You can do this by search the Chilean Consulate jurisdictions for America. 

Tip #5 Bring all of your documents to any meeting in person that you have-- another ESSENTIAL
When your visa is finally approved, you actually have to go to the consulate to bring them all of your documents (background checks, letter of approval from your university, bank notes stating financial well-being, passport, etc). 

Tip #6 Reach out to staff at Maryville!!
Kirsten was so kind to help me along the process when I could not do it on my own. She sat with my during the entirety of my second application, she scanned and faxed and emailed documents for me, she reached out to tech support to make sure my photo was acceptable, and much more. If you feel at all lost, have any questions, or just want to update them on where you are in the process, don't hesitate! It's what they're here at Maryville for!

For me, the process for obtaining my visa was one of the most frustrating and cumbersome tasks I have ever had to do. So when I finally got my passport with the visa page in it, I cried tears of joy! Celebrate the little accomplishments, because those all add up to be your entire experience abroad. 

I hope this blog could help you if you choose to embark on an adventure to Chile, and I hope this does not deter you from going to Chile, because it shouldn't! As I write this, I am sitting in the living room of my new family's house with my new sisters and brother. My first day has been successful, and I cannot wait to experience this semester here!