Visa woes

These last few weeks have been a stressful test of my perseverance with the administration of visas, I think this will be a bit of a theme for the Celtic Safari as I have come to call this trip as I am reading many reports from fellow travellers of trouble with visas along the way.

However here in the UK I had only two visas to get before the trip started, the critical Nigerian visa, critical because it is very hard to get on the way unless you become a temporary resident of another country is it has to be obtained in your home country.  Normally Nigeria issues a visa with only three month validity which is very very tight to get to Nigeria if you are driving and you have to get other visas along the way.  I had been told that it is possible to get a six month version of the visa if you make a good case, so I put all my background information together and carefully checked the visa checklist and made my way to London, for the first time, only to be told (after waiting for three hours) that they had to see my original carnet (which I had not yet recieved).

So I went back two weeks later and paid for the express service for a four day turnaround and was feeling quite pleased as the visa service OIS phoned the High Commission and they agreed to accept my application and to consider it for a six month visa.  That was 21 days ago and they are still considering while holding on to my passport.  The good thing is that the visa processing service is in daily contact with the High Commission and are keeping me posted on the non-decision status, hopefully I will hear something next week.

Before I got the Nigerian visa I had to have a visa from Cameroon, as one needs to show the Cameroon visa to get the Nigerian visa, when travelling overland.

I followed all the advice on their website to get a visa, which was advertised as having six month duration, I even admit to being a bit smug when six other applicants were turned away for not having the necessary documents or electronic approvals.  The visa was put in my passport as I waited and handed to me.  As I went to walk out I looked at it and realised it had only three months validity, returning to the desk I was informed that there was nothing they could do at the office and I had to reapply but for a “long stay” visa to get six months duration.

Well that was the start of a grand saga, basically the evisa system would not let me pay for a new visa with an already issued visa, no matter what I tried (different computers, browsers, credit cards, even passports).  No ability to talk to the visa approvers in Camaroon, no ability to talk to the High Comission, finally I wrote to the high commissioner by name and got a phone call reply telling me to try again!

Now a week later we are down to the wire on both visas, the Nigerians still have my passport and have not yet given me a visa, and the Cameroon people are still not accepting payment on line or answering calls or emails, finally yesterday I got through to the High Comission and they accept that I cannot pay for a new visa while the old visa is still valid, so I will have to try to get it in Lagos after all.

As long as I get the Nigerian visa the trip can still go ahead

Things are getting tight.

About Gerry Mulligan

Check Also

The Garden Route

Breakfast in Cape Towns waterfront, sea food lunch platter watching dolphins play at Hermanus (sadly …