Sunday, August 17, 2014

Visa to Brazil

We heard that it is sometimes difficult to get a visa for being a missionary in Brazil. What we didn't know is the ordeal it takes just to apply for a visa and the kind assistance we would need from others to accomplish the task.

1. Passports: We had passports that didn't expire until we would be home from our mission. Since we needed passports valid for at least 6 months after we returned, we needed to get new passports. Our call letter included form DS-11, an application for new passports. What we needed was form DS-82, an application for passport renewal. We soon learned that the information we got in the call letter was aimed at the young missionaries. After trying to find pictures in our photo albums that we could modify as passport pictures, we decided to go to the post office where they can help. We walked in (appointments were expected), got our pictures taken, finished our passport applications, and got everything mailed off. We were told to use the express service so we would get our new passports in two weeks. We got them in one week. We appreciate the kind lady at the post office for helping us get our new passports.

2. Color Photographs: We got an extra copy of our passport pictures that we expected to be able to use for our visas. It's not that simple. The instructions said, "These photos must be noticeably different from the photo in you passport". We went back to the post office to get visa photos. Paul wore a different tie and Diane a different dress. The man who took the photos had a son who served in the São Paulo Interlagos Mission.

3. Curriculum Vitae: We had to write a curriculum vitae that showed our formal and religious education, including what schools we attended, seminary and institute graduation, teaching experience, and church meeting attendance from primary to present. The sample was aimed at a 18 or 19-year-old to demonstrate they have the academic training to be missionaries. It may be hard for others to accept that young people are able to be ministers so documentation is needed to prove it.

4. Notarized FUNAI letter: We had to agree that we wouldn't visit native-American villages while in Brazil without the permission of the national organization for Indian affairs and have the agreement notarized.

5. Notarized Seminary Transcript: OK, how many of you have a transcript of classes you took in seminary or institute, especially those who went to church schools and have religion classes mixed in with other classes? Yes, those who have recently graduated from seminary or institute may have a transcript, but it can't be a copy. It must be an official transcript signed by a seminary or institute representative in the presence of a notary. We looked all over our mass of files looking for something that might work, but finally gave up in futility. We finally called the missionary coordinator in the church technical office to see if we really needed one.  Sure enough we did, but she gave us a number to call in the church education department who could generate the transcript (given information about our seminary experience - when and where) and have it notarized. She said she would mail it on Monday and we should receive it on Tuesday or Wednesday in the mail. We didn't receive it so we called back. The person generating the papers had been sick so they were not ready. Rather than wait on the mail, we decided to go to Salt Lake on Friday (day after Pioneer Day) and pick up the papers personally.

6. Notarized Seminary Graduation Certificate: This was for Diane. It had to be original (No photocopies accepted). Fortunately the office who generated the seminary transcript also generated the graduation certificate.

7. Notarized Priesthood Ordination Certificate: This was for Paul. Again it had to be original (No photocopies accepted). It said the ward clerk could generate the certificate, but it had to be signed by a priesthood representative in the presence of a notary public. We tried to find a notary public in the ward (and even in the other ward who met in our building) so the priesthood representative could sign it at the church and we could process the notary stamp later. No such luck. We had a member of the stake presidency sign on one line then made arrangements for the ward clerk to meet with us at the Credit Union and sign it in front of a notary public along with our FUNAI letters.

8. Marriage License: This had to be a certified license (no photo copies accepted). At least it didn't need to be notarized. We were able to call the County Clerk's office in Provo where we filled out the original and they were able to mail us certified copies of our license.

9. Obtain Notary Authentications: We each had three items that had been notarized: Paul - FUNAI letter, seminary transcript, and priesthood ordination certificate; Diane - FUNAI letter, seminary transcript, and seminary graduation certificate. We needed to send these items to the Lieutenant Governor's office for authentication to verify that the documents were correctly notarized by a certified notary public. We decided to travel to Salt Lake City the day after Pioneer Day to pick up the seminary transcripts and graduation certificate and drop off all the notarized documents at the Lieutenant Governor's office in the capital building. As the receptionist looked over the papers she noticed that the priesthood certificate was notarized on the certificate itself, but should have had a separate sheet with notary information. She could authenticate the notarization, but we would need the extra sheet before we sent it in with the visa application. We had a nice day in Salt Lake then returned to Logan in time to get the extra sheet from the notary at the Credit Union. He happened to be working that day and we arrived before the Credit Union closed. He wasn't certain what was needed and had to get approval from the manager to make up a separate letter. He got the approval, he made and notarized the  letter, and we finally had what we needed. We now had to wait for the 3-5 working days to get the authentication back from the Lieutenant Governor's office.
Utah Capital Building
10. Sending in documents: We received the authentication and met our first deadline - send our completed documents to the travel department of the church by 05 Aug 2014. It was a relief to get this part completed.

No! it's not over yet! The next items could not be completed earlier than 04 Aug 2015.

11. Police Department Clearance: We needed to go to the police department for a police clearance letter on police letterhead certifying that we have no criminal record. This must have been a tight one because it took them several days to complete. That was interesting because a policeman pulling over a car can get the information in about a minute. I guess it takes time to create a letter, however.

12. Electronic Visa Applications: We next went on line and officially filled out our visa applications. The instruction letter we received showed the fields to fill out in English. We must have gone to the wrong site because it was all in Portuguese. No problem, we got the applications submitted on line and printed out the last page (3 copies) for signing.

13. We sent the police reports and signed visa pages to the church travel department on 12 Aug 2014. We haven't heard anything so we guess they got everything OK. We are told not to contact the travel office to check on the status of the visas. They will inform us two weeks before we are to report to let us know if the visas are here or if we need to wait. Everything is in so I guess the waiting game has begun.

So this is what it takes to apply for a visa to Brazil. One of the things not mentioned is the $$$ each step of the way. This is an expensive process.

1 comment:

Kate said...

WOW, I am sure glad that my visa application process was not like that. That's amazing. I'm glad you were able to get it all done. :)You will be awesome!