One Family's Journey: Embassy Rounds
1) First you have to go see an Embassy doctor who will make sure that your child does not have any contagious diseases. This is a public health precaution not an actual doctor's visit, so don't expect your doctor to actually give you any health advice. The guy who saw Elian grumped at us "That kid is active!" My husband said, "Well he's a toddler".
Many kids will need some vaccinations which can be given at the same appointment. The doctor will give you a sealed envelope to be taken to the embassy. DO NOT OPEN IT!!! The envelope will say this in big letters, but still it bears repeating. DO NOT OPEN!!!! Okay, I feel better, I've done my duty!
2) When you have gathered the following:
- A copy of Sentencia
- Your child's passport
- The medical results
- Your child's birth certificate
- The conformidad from Bienestar
you can go to the Embassy and apply for your child's visa. You must enter the Embassy before 11 am Mon-Thur. You will sit around for a few hours and pay $400 US for the visa. It is boring and they don't allow you to bring any electronics inside. To my great relief Elian fell asleep for most of the three hours we were there. I suggest bringing a book. There is, however, a cafe that sells palitos de queso which I found to be a great relief from boredom. The embassy waiting room is outdoors. Expect to see a thousand Colombians there applying for visas. You talk to the consuls through those same telephones you see in prisons. It's not a very friendly set-up, but still there are "palitos de queso" and coffee! Look on the bright side!
You will be shuffled around to a few windows, but the last stop is the "interview" of the child. Elian is a toddler and didn't have too much to say so our interview was quite short. Then our visa was approved. Yay!
3) The day after your visa is approved you will come back around 3 in the afternoon and pick up your child's visa. Check it over to make sure there are no mistakes. And then breathe a deep sigh of relief. You made it! You have all you need to go home!!!!