Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Run to the Border Part 1: My quest for a VISA

US Citizens can visit Ukraine for 90 days within a 180 day period without a VISA.  Of course, I want to stay a little longer so I need a long-term VISA.  You must apply at a Consulate/Embassy outside of Ukraine so I'm in Budapest, Hungary to do the deed!

I probably could have picked a better week to come to Budapest (but it's a beautiful city and I have friends here...so really?  Is there any such thing as a "bad time"?)  Anyway, it takes three days to get an expedited VISA and yesterday (Monday) was a holiday for the Ukrainian Embassy...so here I am on Tuesday morning (and did I mention that Ukrainian Consulate is closed on Thursdays?)  Nevertheless, I successfully turned in my paperwork (a letter of Invitation from my Pastor/Church in Uzhgorod, along with an official letter from the Zacarpattia Region Administration- again, my Pastor took care of that, 2 passport photo's, the application from the Embassy website and a copy of my Passport).  I then paid the expedited fee (about $150) and they told me to return between 9-12 (their regular office hours) on Friday!

Here's some details for those who will follow!

My application was in order except for 2 small details which the girl at the window in the Embassy changed for me on the spot.  I had checked off that I had an "Official" Passport and that I wanted a VISA for multiple entries.  Apparently an "Official" Passport is more like a "Diplomatic" Passport and I was told I have an "Ordinary" Passport.  She changed the entry to "Single Entry" and told me I have 45 days from the time I enter Ukraine again to secure Registration with the local government, at which time  I'll be able to come and go unlimited times within the 3-5 year life of my VISA.

Getting there was easier than I thought it would be.

I took the Red Metro line to it's last stop: Deli Palyaudvar.  I had read elsewhere on the interwebz that I should take Bus 21 or 21A to the Ukrainian Embassy at Istengeti 83.  When I ascended from the Metro I went to the street that runs parallel to all the train tracks (Deli Palyaoudvar is a railway station also.)  I'll confess that I took the 21A in the wrong direction (going to my right as I faced the street and facing these two buildings below).


No worries though, Deli is the 2nd to last stop for the 21A so I just rode it back around.  Next time I'll know to cross the street here and take the 21 or the 21A going left.  Knowing where to get off for the Ukrainian Embassy is easy.  It's about 7 stops up the hill and the addresses along the way are well marked so you'll know when you're getting close to the Lorant Ut stop and 83 Istengeti.  The Embassy is on the left and has a Blue Gate in front.  You may have to press the button near the door for the bus to stop at Lorant.



I mentioned already the regular hours are 9-12, M-W and Friday.  Closed during Ukrainian Holidays (and likely Hungarian Holidays too!).  I was the first person inside.  The girl at the window spoke English and was very nice.  After accepting my paperwork she then gave me a MKB Bank Deposit Slip and I was instructed to go to the bank to pay for my VISA and then return with the receipt.  She was very helpful in telling me where to go and how to get there.  It was very easy.

I walked back to the Lorant Ut bus stop (only 30 meters uphill from the Embassy) and caught the 212 Bus to Csorsz Ut (it's right in front of MOM Park Mall and the MKB Bank and about 9 stops).


The MKB Bank is in MOM Park Mall and you're practically looking at it when you step off the 212.

You have to punch in a few answers on a touch screen thing inside the bank to get a "number" to be seen by a teller.  As soon as the machine printed my number the appropriate teller opened up.  There's an ATM in the bank (it wasn't working) but there are several inside the Mall.  I paid Cash (in Hungarian Florint) and she gave me a receipt.  I then retraced my steps and caught the 212 going back the other way.  This time, for some reason the bus stop was called the Ora Ut stop.  Still, you can follow along with the addresses going uphill and know when to get off the bus.

So there ya go.  From the time I first presented my paperwork (right at 9 am) until I returned with my receipt from the bank took about 50 minutes!!  Praise the Lord.  And the girl in the window didn't tell me a time to return on Friday, she just said between 9 and 12...regular office hours so I assume my VISA will be ready to be inserted into my Passport when I return at 9 am on Friday!



8 comments:

Michael Hallenbeck said...

Wow! Couldn't have asked for a more comprehensive and helpful set of instructions. Thanks, Clint!

flutterby said...

Glad to hear all went well and the people at the embassy were nice... Tel Aviv wasn't quite so easy. Enjoy the rest of your time and praying all goes well as you return to start the registration process.

vickie (clinton's sister) said...

wow... God sure is taking care of you...

thank You, Lord...

KCastilaw said...

Wonderful! A great start!

Michael Martin said...

This is the type of thing the average person in the US doesn't think about. It's challenging, but you seem to have it all under control. God bless you. Praying for you.

Katharine Stadler said...

Thursday is a really random day to be closed...But ahh VISA stories...they make life so fun don't they!?

Ina Sobolewski said...

Whenever you finally get the permanent resident papers please let us know so that we can thank the Lord. Things there sound a little complicated

Tina said...

So glad it went well, Clinton! Praise God! (I am so spoiled. I had a gal at work who took care of the whole process for my China visa, apart from my filling out the short application and submitting passport photos. Yay!)