Friday, August 1, 2008

Passport and Visa Applications

Don't we look so cute? These are our passport photos, which we are submitting for the various passport and visa applications we have to do for our journey. Today I started folders on each of us, with a note-taking page, and dividers to separate out the different applications we need to fill out. Hopefully, this will help keep things organizied.

Out of all of the countries we are visiting, only five require visas. Three of the visas are fairly innexpensive and will be aquired while we are on the program. However, the visas for China and India are quite expensive and we are beginning work on those now.

With passports and visas, a little extra time helps lower the prices. We applied for passports for the kids as soon as we decided we were going on the Spring voyage, Luke needed to renew his, and I needed extra pages in mine. We applied last month and have already recieved them, even without using expedited service. We now have plenty of time to secure visas for China and India without getting extra fees.

Can you believe this? India has actually outsourced its visa process to an American company called Travisa. India is currently the only country to take this approach. Travisa recieves $13 for every visa issued, and manages the online application. Indian visas automatically start on the date they are issued, so we won't be able to apply for the Indian visa until October or so to recieve the cheapest rate.

Chinese visas can be obtained by any agent that applies in person at the San Francisco Consulate. This gives us two options: 1) fly one of us to San Francisco to get all of our visas or 2) apply through one of the hundreds of agencies willing to act as an agent for a "fee". The third option would be if someone out there wants to go take our applications to the consulate out of the kindness of their hearts...anyone??

We will probably use China Travel Service. This is the company used by the study abroad office I work at, and they are very reputable and don't charge too much.

Semester at Sea has a Visa Service they use, and it is very economical for the average student. However, as a family, we do not want to pay to have each visa shipped to us separately. That would cost us about $60 extra. We'll let you know in a later post if we come to regret this decision:)

1 comment:

Rachel said...

The pictures are adorable! Look at how big Miss Lilly is getting! I can hardly believe it!