Visa: The Headache of a Little Piece of Paper

“Visa.” When most of us hear that word, the first thing we think of is the credit card. But for the overseas missionary, the word is both a means by which we can do our work and the source of one of our biggest headaches.

A visa is a just a stamp or a sticker that goes in your passport that allows you to be in a country. There are several types of visas: tourist visas, student visas, work visas, missionary visas, to name a few. I may go to a more sensitive country in the future, so I’ve opted to not get a missionary visa because that could be the death knell of any hope of going to a place like Turkmenistan or Iran. Instead, I’ve been using a business visa.

Until last week.

Law requires me to leave the country to renew my visa (which I’m convinced is a business deal between the government and the airlines), so I was visiting a neighboring “-stan” country. I submitted all the documents to the embassy that I needed to renew my business visa only to discover that a recent law only allows me to use these short-term business visas for 4 months out of the year. So instead I left with a one-month tourist visa and a lot of worry. Elisa will have the same problem next month when she tries to renew her visa.

The embassy further informed me that we can only get 3 tourist visas. I’m one down and two to go, which means that I have until mid-September to either leave the country or find another solution.

To add to this sword of Damocles hanging above our heads, Elisa is also waiting for her American visa so that she can live and work in the US for an extended period of time. (Italians can visit the US for up to 3 months without a visa.) We had come to a great deal of peace that perhaps God wanted us in Central Asia for awhile longer to continue to work with One More Friend until Elisa got her visa. “Maybe that was why her visa was taking so long,” we thought. But now we find ourselves with no American visa and a quickly dwindling supply of Central Asian visas.

Please pray for us to have more visa opportunities, for Elisa’s American visa to come quickly, and for us to have wisdom about what to do if neither of those things happens in a timely manner.


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