With a Canadian passport, the idea of having to obtain a visa so as to enter a country for tourist reasons comes across rarely for me. So it was a rather interesting thing to note, when going through the logistical matters regarding my travel colloquium, that I would have to obtain a tourist visa prior to my trip to Brazil. Although the idea of having to go to a consulate to request for a right to enter seems somewhat daunting, it isn’t really so, and especially not when applying for a tourist visa with the Brazilian consulate.
As a side note, here is the description of my travel colloquium and theme – it is quite some degrees away from what one would normally see me researching, but it is nevertheless rather interesting and quite fascinating to take a look at Brazil and their healthcare system.
Healthy Children, Healthy Families: A Comparison of U.S. and Brazilian Approaches to Improving the Health of Children in Poverty
Salvador, Brazil, January 10-17, 2012
Dean Beth Weitzman, Professor, Health and Public Policy
Dr. Mitchell H. Rubin, MD, Wagner School, Adjunct Professor of Health Policy
We will first look at how the United States, both currently and historically, has chosen to support families, particularly those in poverty and particularly in regard to the health needs of their children. Using New York City as our first learning laboratory, students will explore the kinds of services and institutions that are intended to help families, particularly those of limited means, provide for their children. We will then travel to our second learning laboratory, Salvador, Brazil, to help us understand how another country addresses these same issues. (Brazil provides an interesting case study because recent reforms and economic growth have allowed Brazilians to effectively raise the standard of living and child outcomes for the poorest citizens.)
In Brazil, we will meet with leaders of higher education, health care, and social service organizations to see, first-hand, the kinds of services that have been recently made available to previously unserved and underserved populations. We will have the opportunity to consider how national decisions about service provision relate to issues of class, race, gender and ideology.
Students will be asked to consider whether lessons learned from the Brazilian experience might be useful in the United States.
Coming back to the topic on-hand – Brazilian tourist visa. Perhaps the most important thing to note is that citizens of Canada and the US (and quite possibly also Mexico, though I’m not 100% sure on that) are permitted to apply for a visa at any time (provided they have an itinerary), whereas other countries should apply 90 days prior since that is when they have to make their first entry into Brazil. That is to say if I held a passport from another country that required a visa for entry, I would have to apply within 90 days of my trip or my visa would be rendered null. With my Canadian passport, I can have booked my trip a year in advance and apply for my visa; my first entry would then be marked and from that date on, I would have five years of multiple entry.
The form work was quite easy; I went online to the Brazilian visa application website and entered in my personal details, such as date of birth, address, citizenship, and what note, along with professional (in this case, educational affiliation) notes, and that was it. I was prompted to print out a “receipt,” on which I would have to glue a passport photo (2″ x 2″) and sign with my signature. With my information in the database, I was pretty much set to head on over to the consulate.
The Brazilian consulate in New York has quite an interesting approach towards the whole visa process – there are no appointments. It is basically like going to the DMV, where everyone stands in long cues, receives a ticket, and waits for their number to be called up on the large screen. From the very end of the line to getting my number called, the wait was a little less than an hour. The consulate is only open to receiving visa applications Monday to Friday from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM; that said, be sure to get there early as they can close the lines at their discretion. Arriving at ten minutes after 10, there was already a line of at least thirty to forty persons ahead of me.
Handing in my documentation was a breeze. I was advised to provide documentation supporting my residency in New York (i.e. driver’s license or utility bill), ability to stay in the US (i.e. I-94 card and proof of F-1 status), along with passport, USPS money order (for Canadians, the fee at the New York consulate is $65USD and, for US citizens, it is $140USD) application receipt (from above), and a copy of my itinerary listing flights and accommodation. Do note that everything that is requested for excepting passport and money order, are to be photocopies and not the originals. My itinerary was given a quick glance and then returned to me. Passport, receipt, and money order were taken. That is to say that the rest of my documentation wasn’t even examined. At that point, I receipted a slip of paper with my pick-up number and date.
The only gripe I have with the Brazilian consulate is that it takes at least five business days to process; during which, I am unable to travel since they have possession of my passport. From past experiences, I’ve been issued my visa “stickers” (as I like to call them) within a half hour or less; those experiences being for my long-stay French visas.
So there you have it, quite an easy process that isn’t all that time consuming. Just plan ahead and make sure you don’t have any intent to travel within the week.