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Corruption and Problems with Georgian Visas

06.01.2004
Corruption and Problems with Georgian Visas

Navigating the corrupt waters of visa acquisition has proven to be quite treacherous. Obtaining a Georgian visa in the U.S. was impossible. Getting through to the Georgian embassy was itself quite difficult, and when I finally managed to speak to someone, I was told that they were out of visa applications and stickers, but that I could get a visa at the airport when I arrived. Being a little uneasy at arriving in a strange country in the middle of the night without a visa, I checked back with the embassy and was again told that getting a visa at the airport would be no problem.

However, at the airport, no 3-month or 6-month visas were available, only 2-week visas. Furthermore, since there's a Georgian embassy in the U.S., I was charged double the going rate for not getting my visa ahead of time. Explaining that the Georgian embassy was out of visas was of course a waste of time, and I had to fork over $80.

2 weeks later, I tried to get my 6-month visa, and after several trips to the ministry (speaking with the same guy each time but getting entirely different information) was told that they never issue 1-year or 6-month visas, only 3-month visas, and that since it would take 30-45 days to get it, I would now need to buy a 1-month visa for another $50. With no alternative, I bought the 1-month visa, and turned in my photos and paperwork for the 3-month visa.

At the end of the month I came back to check on the progress of my 3-month visa. The guy at the counter claimed to never have seen me before, disavowed ever receiving paperwork or photos, and told me I'd need to get another 1-month visa for another $50 and submit more photos and paperwork, and that in another 30 days my 3-month visa would be ready. Since I had just done this exact thing 30 days earlier, I did not agree to this, and told the guy that I'd already given him all the paperwork, and that I wanted my visa. This, of course, did not work.

Since my landlord had claimed to know someone higher up in the visa office, I asked him if he could help me get my visa. He went with me, and the guy at the desk this time was much friendlier, probably because my landlord is himself a mid-level manager in his own ministry. This time the guy at the desk said that I could come back in 3 days and pick up the visa.

In three days I went back, and sure enough, the 3-month visa was waiting there for me. However, in addition to the $105 fee, I was assessed a $65 fee for being late with my application. Since I'd applied more than 30 days earlier for the visa, grudgingly the guy agreed that I was not late. However, now, instead of the $65 late fee, I would need to pay a $65 "expediting" fee for having my visa processed in only 3 days. Since I was not willing to pay $50 for a worthless extra 1-month visa, I certainly was not going to pay an $65 bribe for an "expediting" fee. The situation was absolutely ridiculous, so I refused to pay, and left, and had no passport or visa (or rather, they're both in the hands of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) for nearly a month.

The U.S. embassy was not at all interested in hearing about my problem, and no one else in Georgia could help me, so eventually, I wound up having to pay the extra $65.

So, instead of simply paying my $200 for a 6-month visa at the Georgian embassy in the U.S., I have been forced to buy an $80 2-week visa, a $50 1-month visa, and after refusing to buy yet another $50 1-month visa, was issued my $105 3-month visa, plus a charge of $65. I have now spent $315 plus several hours of my time at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in about 2 months, I will have to go through the whole ridiculous process again, without any idea in advance what I can expect.

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Name: ნათია
2011-06-29 15:21
აუ საქართველოში კონსულები არიან საზიზღრები რაა :@
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