In recent weeks I have been to Managua twice to find out which papers I have to collect to extend the visa for myself and my son Jonathan. I have lived in Nicaragua already for five years and at that time I was happy to receive a visa for 5 years, the maximum. But the visa expired mid-March.
On my first visit I learned I had to produce ten documents, and only five for Jonathan. It does not make me happy, the hassle of getting my hands on those papers! Best to just get on with it! So after collecting most of the papers I went back to the Migration Service in Managua, specifically to find out how to proceed as my visa was about to expire, and I was not yet able to provide a copy of the approval of my employer for my visa application.
Obtaining my employer’s approval is a recurrent annual task, the responsibility of the Chairperson of the Ruach Foundation. In previous years it always took a bit of time to prepare for it, but the procedure was always completed in a fortnight. But this year is different. A new law has recently been introduced, which considerably tightens the requirements which an NGO (non-governmental organization) must fulfill. It has to do with the forthcoming national elections. The Government fears foreign interference and it especially monitors financial support for NGO activities which the Government finds suspect. Gobernación, the approving body, therefore pays attention to all the details. It took a month before we were allowed to submit what was requested. New requirements were added time and again.
How long will it take before the process comes to a conclusion? If we are lucky we will not be asked for further documents or clarifications. But we are sure it will take time, and consequently I cannot provide the final paper I need for the visa application.
During my last visit to the migration service – (currently there are long waiting times of 3 hours) – the list of what I had to deliver was extended again. It seems to randomly depend on the clerk who is behind the counter in front of you. I was told that I have to pay a $ 2 fine for every day I’m in Nicaragua without a valid visa.
What is next?
For me it is particularly challenging to have to travel to Managua with Jonathan. For a start that is a three-hour journey, regardless of the waiting times at the Migration Service. So I had a statement drawn up by a psychiatrist, explaining Jonathan’s autistic limitations and what this means for his behaviour and what he can or cannot handle. Hopefully people are sensitive to that.
Life is what it is. We live in times of uncertainty. Life in general is not certain, even if we think it is. Living with uncertainties is a good training ground for living in the NOW, being open to experience life has in store for us and enjoy what each day brings. Because different scenarios are conceivable and everything is open.
Image by VIN JD from Pixabay