Fellow Africans will be able to relate to this one. South Africans somewhat exempt; because the world decided there are African countries, and then there is South Africa. I suppose they have Nelson Mandela to thank for a splendid job at international relations, and maybe their much later independence. P.S. I’m not hating at all.
Anyway, shout out to my Zimbabwean brothers and sisters! Power to you for being so well traveled in-spite of owning thou art cursed green passport. One goes through a real hustle to be allowed into countries where Zimbabweans are not visa exempt. Palpitations, insomnia, lack of appetite, cash stress. Full on anxiety. With every single visa application!
My first visa application must have been in 2003. The Zimbabwean economy was on a downward spiral. A beloved aunt (rest her departed soul) offered an olive branch. “Come and study in the UK”, she said. I jumped onto it. Found a university where I could study Marketing, got the offer letter etc, made a huge file of papers and submitted my British Student Visa Application. By then, applications were already being done through a visa application centre. FedEx was the agent. My paperwork was in order, so I was not expecting to be hit in the face with a rejection. It went something like, “we are not confident with your reason for coming to the UK. The program you have chosen can be studied in your home country”. Absurd, I thought. Shouldn’t one have the freedom to study what they want, where they want. Of course, other foreigners have studied Marketing in the very same country. I was the unfortunate one. Unlucky. That cursed passport. Fast forward to 2012, I made a British Visitor Visa Application. The amount of effort that went into putting the paperwork together was insane. A bible of papers to prove I had no intention of staying in the British Kingdom illegally. I got the visa! For a long time after this, I was happy travelling only to countries where Zimbabweans are visa exempt. The British Embassy has since introduced Access UK, an online visa application service to do away with the complications of the previous system, and be more user friendly.
Tower of London. My travel rookie days. Lucky for me I had my cousins as personal tour guides who made sure I had an amazing time without getting lost, wasting time, or breaking bank!
In 2014 I decided to visit my brother in Germany. All the visa application horror stories I had ever heard started coming back to memory. I would need to put together documents for a Schengen Visa Application. Enter insomnia. To my relief, the requirements were more straight forward and seemingly less restrictive. However, that did not calm my nerves. This time I opted to apply for a Tourist Visa. I hit a bump with the first submission. At the time, the financial requirement was 60 Euro for each day to be spent in schengen territory. The number of days I applied for did not tally with my bank statement. Luckily, I was not hit in the face with, “visa application refused”. Surprise, surprise. A pleasant one for that. The kind lady simply informed me to reduce the number of days and resubmit. No filing an appeal, no need to pay a new application fee. I just had to complete a new form and submit it with the same paperwork as before. The German Embassy in Harare wins! If you're in Zimbabwe and need a schengen visa, head on over to 30 Ceres Road, Avondale. Just make sure to book an appointment, and provide all the required documents with no inconsistencies. Do your research on how and where to apply for a schengen visa.
Schloss, Heidelberg Castle, Germany. I had an amazing time visiting my brother in Germany. Those two weeks must have
been the longest time we spent together in years, maybe ever. Yeah there's an amazing story behind that.
Brussels, Belgium. Don't waste your hard earned schengen visa and air ticket on one country. My trick is to pick destinations
that give me the opportunity to see family and friends. Globalisation has us scattered all over the world so being able to
catch up with loved ones adds value to my trips.
In 2016 I decided to relocate to Thailand. Zimbabweans apply for Thai visas at the Royal Thai Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa. Now this consulate has very friendly staff. Consistent with Thailand’s reputation of being the land of smiles. It doesn’t feel like trying to get assistance from an armoured gatekeeper. No wonder Thailand is a popular tourist destination, even with travelers from Africa. They make it easy to come. Getting a Thai Student Visa is straightforward. I submitted my student visa application by courier, and opted to receive my passport back by the same means. If you want to work in Thailand as a teacher, getting the Non B Thai Visa is also straightforward as long as you have all the required paperwork. Though with recent changes, most Africans have to go back to their country of origin (or nearest consulate to country of origin) to process the Non B visa application. I opted to handle this one in person rather than by courier; there was too much at stake. The only Africans who seem to still be able to do it in neighbouring countries within Asia are South Africans. There will however be more immigration paperwork to be handled after you receive your visa. This one affects all immigrants, and we'll talk about it in another post.
What have been your experiences with immigration requirements? Share in the comments section.
The content in this article is based on personal experiences. Visit relevant official websites for updated information pertaining to visa application requirements.