Archive for the ‘Visa’ Category

First, before I begin discussing my trip to Lima’s Interpol branch, I want to make a quick statement about the weather: It’s really nice. I mean really, really nice. As a lifelong Midwesterner, I’ve basically become accustomed to crappy weather. In Winter, it’s too cold and snowy; in the Summer, it’s too hot and humid. In the Midwest, you really get only 1 nice month in the Autumn and then another one in Spring. And that’s it, that’s the list. Hell, I was so inured to these craptastic seasons that I had convinced myself that everywhere else on the planet only had 2 good months of weather. Right now, Lima is transitioning into Summer and it’s absolutely gorgeous. And, though I still don’t believe this because my native Midwesternness won’t let me, it’s supposed to stay this nice for months. Months, I tell you! I’m worried I might turn into one my Midwesterners-turned-Southerners-or-WestCoasters friends who can no longer handle crappy weather.

So, my continuing search for a Peruvian work visa has taken it’s next, and hopefully second-to-last, step; namely, a visit to Interpol. In this step not only are you required to pay money to the Peruvian government but also are required to send some cash back to Good Ole Uncle Sam. I’m still not quite sure why the FBI needs to keep tabs on me while I’m living in Lima. Though I can assure you it’s not because I’m some super-secret drug smuggler (oddly, the FBI wouldn’t accept my “cross my heart” promise). I’ve been told it’s because the US government wants to keep track of me in case of an emergency, but I can’t really see US government being that concerned with British/Postcolonial scholars. I don’t see us getting on one of those big ships in that dumb John Cusack movie.

In relation to many of the other steps throughout my visa process, the trip to Interpol was relatively painless. Essentially, the process is a simple trip to a small government building tucked out in Surco where you’ll get poked and prodded by bored officials in dusty suits. It is a wee bit depressing, with these folks in their dusty, faded military green suits working in a dusty, faded military green building with bad tile. The key bit of advice I can give is to be prepared and get all the necessary documents finished before you get in the cab to head out to the building (which only does Visa stuff on Monday and Tuesday, btw). Unfortunately, like many steps in the visa process, nobody really tells you what you need, so it can become a frustrating guessing game. Therefore, allow me to help out, in the smallest way.

The key documents required by US persons seeking a visa are as follows:

  • Passport
  • 2 copies of your passport, including your front picture and contract stamp (ideally, I would suggest a person bring 10-15 copies of there passport before even coming to Peru, given the amount of places in which you need to hand out copies)
  • A receipt for 73 soles paid to Banco Nacional for the Canje Internacional
  • A check (giro de credito) for 30 USD given to you by BCP/SoctiaBank for the FBI (you give them the cash, they give you the check)
  • 18 soles for photos to be taken at Interpol
  • And a bunch of forms to be filled out that they’ll give you at the office.

"El metro es una película porno. Las aceras son un desastre. Yo sé que usted me ha apoyado durante mucho tiempo.De alguna manera no estoy impresionado"

First, these are the requirements for USians and, I think, Canadians who are seeking a visa. If you’re from Asia, Europe, or another South American country, some of the items you need will be different. I would highly suggest you visit the banks–and, of course, you can’t do it all at one bank–a day or two before you plan to head to Interpol. The weekend is particularly helpful because if you can go early enough (around 11), many of the banks aren’t that crowded. Also, I would avoid the Banco Nacional in Surco because when I was heading to Interpol there were 2 lines that stretched around the block, full of pissed off people waiting to get into the building. If you can get the copies and bank documents in order before you head to Surco, then the experience at Interpol can move quickly and smoothly.

The rest of the trip is essentially a documentation of your body and appearance. I felt a bit like a horse, being examined for a sale as my teeth, face, and fingerprints were all given a good once-over. The teeth examination is particularly strange because the only reason I could think of as to why they’d need to take notes on my teeth would be to identify my body after something terrible had happened. It was unnerving. All the other examinations will be pretty routine to anybody this far in the process, just another round of pictures and fingerprints. Honestly, given the amount of times I’ve had my prints taken there must be 15 or so copies of my fingerprints floating around Peru.

Overall, the trip to Interpol should be one of your easier Visa experiences, as long as you have all the documents prepared ahead of time. My last suggestion would be to have somebody who speaks Spanish accompany you if you’re not that familiar with the language. The staff at Interpol, like all government officials, are fairly abrupt and don’t really like answering questions that begin “I’m sorry, can you help me with…” I felt fine with my level of Spanish, and I’m by no means fluent, but I did have to ask a few questions, which received a sigh or two from some sclub behind a desk.


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