Thursday, November 3, 2011

Peru Tourist Visa for Indian Citizens (From San Francisco Consulate)

I knew six friends who recently obtained Peru tourist visas. So armed with the knowledge of their experiences, we went to the Peru consulate around 9.45 AM. You pick a number as soon as you enter, but the number doesn't seem to bear any significance. Someone from the closed office area will walk to the waiting room and talk to you randomly.

It seems like we caught them on a busy morning, so after waiting for a while, they asked us to leave our documents and passports and come back at 1. I asked them if I could give them the passports later as I wanted to make color copies of all pages to drop off at the Chile consulate next door (more here) and the young guy who took our papers agreed.

We returned at 1 pm after lunch and had to wait for some more time. If the door to the office area opens, immediately stand up and walk towards it, and try to attract someone's attention. Eventually we were noticed and our application was picked up by an older lady who seemed senior. She also took a lot of help from Swami during our visit in the morning to fix her computer troubles (that didn't seem to win us any favor though).

The next hour and a half was like living in a slow motion picture on a very laid back island. The lady re-typed our application form on the computer and had a fit when we told her that we plan to stay in Peru for a month without any air tickets (in or out).

"You're going by bus? From Bolivia?" (with shocked expression)

"Yes, but from Ecuador", I said with resignation. Swami has trouble with Ecuador and Bolivia and interchanges them again and again and I just give up.

"Where are your tickets?"

"We dont have bus tickets yet. We plan to get them as we go. But look, we have air tickets in and out South America."

"But what about Peru?"

"Not for Peru. In to Bogota and out of Buenos Aires." Sigh! This was getting really tiring.

"This is Bogota, not Peru. What will you do in Peru for one month?"

"We'll hike the huayhuash circuit and the inca trail". Twice, I almost said.

"Dont you have a job? How will you afford four months?"

This is when we show our bank statement. She looks at a random figure on my salary statement which says $323.50 and goes "Thats all?" How on earth am I supposed to travel with $323.50? I show her the bank statement. Arent they supposed to be reading bank statements all the time?

Finally, after showing the money, she says "$60". I am just thrilled that its over.

Now we get finger printed, thumb impression-ed and photographed and finally step out of the consulate with our visas at 2.30 PM.

Documents to take for EACH applicant:
  • Original passport
  • Application Form
  • Bank Statement
  • (dont give unless asked) Pay statement . It might be mistaken for a bank statement and someone might think your 15 day salary is your bank balance. Or horror, they might think your 401K contribution is your bank balance. Keep it away.
  • $30 per visa in cash
  • copy of US visa
  • hostel reservation (we booked for one day in Cuzco)
  • airline reservation
  • (not asked) photograph
Consulate is at 870 Market Street. Fedex is at 726 Market street for last minute tech/copy needs. Bank of America ATM is at the corner of Market and 4th street.  Form and visa requirements.