Multiple Entry Visa Changes

It came time to make my quick trip to renew my Multiple Entry Visa today, and I was in for a big surprise.

I crossed the bridge from Asuncion and went to Argentina, ate lunch, and headed back. When I got to Immigration for Paraguay, there was a big sign plastered on the wall with what are evidently very recent changes.

Now, you have to get a new Visa, every 180 days. Or you can get one for year, for double the price.

But the big change is now you have to leave the country for a minimum of 5 days every three months.

I was just lucky that I didnīt take a trip to Buenos Aires or somewhere for 2-3 days and come back, and find I had to get on plane and head back somewhere, stay a few more days, and try to get a Visa at a Paraguay Embassy in other country.

I actually almost did that, but logistics prevented me, not the fact that I didnīt know about the change.

If anyone has more recent or more updated information, let me know, and quickly if you can. Iīve only got tomorrow to get to Immigration here and get a Visa, and until Monday to leave the country.

Needless to say, Iīm not a happy camper right now. Although the prospect of getting out of Paraguay for a while is looking better by the minute.

With or without a Visa to return.

Oh crap. Mine expires Thursday and I was just going to go to immigrations at the airport here in Asuncion. I definitely canīt be gone from the country for 5 days. Please let me know if you find out anything else, and Iīll do the same.

My wife and son got caught in the same trap about 4 weeks ago when we took them from ASU to Argentina for the day in order to "renew" the 180 day period.  While there were no signs or policy changes posted, the Immigration people at the kiosk there on the Paraguayan side bascially told us we couldn't do it since we were "cheating the system". 

To make a long story short, we ended up going downtown to apply for extensions to their current 180 day visit.  You can do this one time for any visa.  This would seem to be the only way around having to leave for a few days in order to restart another 180 day stay.  It did cost more to get these extensions than the penalty fee would of been for overstaying the visa terms upon leaving, but if they had done that then they would of possibly been denied re-entry due to the overstay.

This is what I posted on my Facebook, but I would add that I am a writer of fiction, and it was written solely for its entertainment value.

How I Become a Co-Conspirator... Or A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Argentina.

Hereīs the deal. Youīre supposed to be able to get a multiple entry Visa (which I have) which allows you to leave Paraguay every three months, and then return and have your Visa renewed for another 3 months. Thatīs what I did 3 months ago with no problem.

Well, itīs time to renew the Visa again, so yesterday (Thursday) I went to Argentina by car, which is only about an hour drive, crossed the border, ate lunch, and returned.

Only surprise, surprise. When I get to Paraguay Immigration, they tell they canīt renew the Visa. They tell me the law has changed, that now I 1) have to get a new Visa at the Office of Immigration and 2) have to leave the country for a minimum of 5 days.

None of this is official information, mind you, available anywhere that I can find, so Iīm about to panic.

What if I canīt get the new Visa on Friday? My Visa expires Monday, so I canīt leave later than that. That leaves today, Friday, to get the new Visa.

Knowing Paraguay, thereīs not going to be anyone in the entire Office of Immigration who speaks English.

When I got the original Visa I had to have certified bank statements showing adequate funds for the length of the Visa. How am I going to get those?

What if I canīt get the new Visa on Friday, do I go to Buenos Aires and try to deal with the Paraguayan Consulate there?

Or should I just head home and deal with it from the US, and do way more than my fair share to bump consumer spending?

Today I go to the Paraguay Office of Immigration, and get a number. No one speaks English (thatīs a good bet on any occasion), and my Spanish is not good enough to be rusty.

I do understand, however, that whatever the border guy the day before told me, ainīt happening here. Iīve got to go somewhere else. I canīt get there from here, so to speak.

Iīm burning daylight, and it ainīt looking good, so I do what any reasonable person in Paraguay does.

I went to a different border crossing to Argentina. Since my entry Visa to Argentina had been stamped the day before I didnīt even bother crossing the border.

I went straight to checkout, handed my passport to the guy with $30 inside it, smiled and acted like I knew what I was doing.

My passport stamped for another three months, and returned to me in about two minutes. Without the $30 of course.

I still donīt know what the actual policy is, and donīt really care. I donīt feel upset or annoyed. Rather, I have this odd sense of having done the right thing, an inner peace, a sense of oneness with my environment, a sense of gratitude for having found and communicated with another reasonable person in a universal language.

I want to do yogo for the first time, or listen to a CD of running water, or help someone change a flat tire. I think I moved another step closer to enlightenment.

And thatīs how I became a co-conspirator.

I don't know if I'd classify that as "co-conspirator" Zollie, though it certainly has some modicum of norteno poetic license.  I'd say you're definitely acclimating to Paraguayan culture as a participant in the informal tax system (one might call it 'pay-as-you-go' if you're a devout Tea Party fan).

I've also had a few brushes with local authorities in the campo which I've written about here on other threads.  Fortunately I was traveling with a Paraguaya who negotiated the culture/gringo tax for me; it's amazing how well the negotiations go when she starts raising her voice in Guarani, and always ends amicably (while I'm sweating bullets with visions of going to the pokey).  That's the fallout from my cultural training having lived in a quasi corporate fascist police state, i.e. EEUU.

For those that want to try to CYA, so to speak rather unpoetically, I used an immigration attorney that stays abreast of changes in the Paraguayan law and knows all the folks that work downtown.  Even then, there are always surprises.  The only thing one can expect with certainty in S. America is the unexpected.

Thanks for posting about your experiences Zollie; they're always interesting and amusing.

To change the subject, but to pick up on something you said, about the informal economy. The huge informal economy here, in my view, seriously distorts the difference in the cost of living between Paraguay and the US. Supposedly it is much cheaper to live here.

In some respects that is clearly true. Basically anything a person does is cheap. Iīm talking about having a housekeeper, or a painter, or things like that.

And food is certainly less expensive, and better. But this is a direct result of cheap labor.

A lot of other things just as expensive as the US. The painter may be cheap, but the paint is just as expensive.

Cars are incredibly expensive here. Gasoline. Most anything imported, like electronic goods or refrigerators, or coffee makers or anything like that, is just as expensive as in the US or more so.

Sometimes you end up paying just as much for a refrigerator as you would in the US, but without being critical, youīre not getting as much refrigerator. Itīs actually more expensive.

My take on it, which admittedly is limited, is that basically you get what you pay for. If you want to lower your standard of living, or only consider the direct costs of living here, and factor out the polution, the security issues, and all the rest, you can certainly live for less in Paraguay.

But if you want to compare apples to apples, thereīs not that much difference.

I think this is directly related to the large informal economy, and the huge amounts of money a very few people have here.

If you were living a upper middle class lifestyle in the US, and you want to continue to live in a way comparable to the way you lived in the US, the same type of neighborhood, the same quality of housing, furniture and so forth, you might save a little money, but not a lot.

My decision on whether or not to say here long term wonīt be an issue of money, it will just be whether or not, after I can speak Spanish with reasonable fluency, is this a place I want to live?

The juryīs still out... but itīs certainly been worth the effort and expense to me to be here.

Itīs been been a dream come true for me to actually have the opportunity to live in a different culture, to learn to speak the language, and to make friends with people whose backgrounds are completely different than my own.

majbjb mentioned the same thing I discovered. I was told it is cheaper to overstay my visa then to renew it. 174.000 to overstay, no matter how long (it used to be a fee per day of overstay) or 250.000 to renew it. I tried and tried to find out if this (overstaying the entry) would affect my chances of residency to no avail. Although itīs a bit strange to me because I have a 10 year visa and nowhere in my passport does it mention when my entry expires--- 90 days? 180? I assumed 90 but looking at it, I really wonder. Maybe I could fight a fine with that... But in Paraguay they are able to get money from you no matter what it seems. Anyone know if there is a ĻdefaultĻ time period?

I guess the convenient thing I learned from a legal perspective is that since I am pregnant, my fiance has a right to claim that I HAVE to be in the country as he has a right to equal custody. :-)

Hey Zollie, I thought you might find this interesting regarding the economy in Paraguay:

The poor, landlocked country is the world's No. 4 soybean exporter...

Paraguayan soy exports, which go mainly to Argentina -- where they are crushed into soyoil and pellets -- and to the European Union, are dominated by giant multinationals Cargill CARG.UL and U.S.-based Archer Daniels Midland Co (ADM.N).

The U.S.-based Archer Daniels Midland has a long history of global social injustice and corruption:

Price fixing
In 1993, ADM was the subject of a lysine price fixing investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. Senior ADM executives were indicted on criminal charges for engaging in price-fixing within the international lysine market. Three of ADM's top officials, including vice chairman Michael Andreas were eventually sentenced to federal prison in 1999. Moreover, in 1997, the company was fined $100 million, the largest antitrust fine in U.S. history at the time.[4] Mark Whitacre, FBI informant and whistleblower of the Lysine price-fixing conspiracy would also find himself in legal trouble for embezzling money from ADM during his time as an informant for the FBI. In addition, according to ADM's 2005 annual report a settlement was reached under which ADM paid $400 million in 2005 to settle a class action antitrust suit.[5]
Using the investigation as an example, Ronald W. Cotterill of the Food Marketing Policy Center at the University of Connecticut shows that 100 percent or more of overcharges resulting from price fixing are passed through to consumers.
The Informant is a nonfiction thriller book written by journalist Kurt Eichenwald and published in 2000 by Random House that documents the mid-1990s lysine price-fixing conspiracy case and the involvement of Archer Daniels Midland executive Mark Whitacre. A 2009 movie adaptation of the book stars Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre.

LRF lawsuit
In July 2005, the International Labor Rights Fund filed suit against the Nestle, Archer Daniels Midland, and Cargill companies in Federal District Court in Los Angeles on behalf of a class of Malian children who were trafficked from Mali into the Ivory Coast and forced to work twelve to fourteen hours a day with no pay, little food and sleep, and frequent beatings. The three children acting as class representative plaintiffs are proceeding anonymously, as John Does, because of feared retaliation by the farm owners where they worked. The complaint alleges their involvement in the trafficking, torture, and forced labor of children who cultivate and harvest cocoa beans that the companies import from Africa.

Corporate Equality Index
Archer Daniels Midland, along with Cracker Barrel and Nestle Purina Pet Care, achieved the lowest score (15 out of 100) of all rated Food and Beverage companies in the Human Rights Campaign's 2008 Corporate Equality Index, a measure of Gay and Lesbian workplace equality.

Zollie, most certainly true about almost everything imported costing the same or more expensive - at least here in Asuncion- but do try to go to Cuidad del Este and compare prices there. Haven't been there in the last 4 years and its solely because when I go I wanna go with at least a $1000 again. One can only go crazy there... Went and bought in pieces the PC "I wanted" back then. Paid with bus and 1 night sleeping for 2 people included just over G4.000.000 back then.For that same machine here in Asuncion the cheapest offer I could get was G6.500.000!

A friend of mine went there a month ago and bought himself -between other stuff- a Sumsung LCD 23` for G850.000. I haven't been able the get it under G1.500.000 anywhere here in Asuncion.

Any one interested in at least trying to compare prices over the internet just PM me as I'm not sure if external links are allowed here, I know about I www. where a couple of businesses offer their stuff, one can compare prices between them and even see where is what between them, but they are not the hole CDE, there is certainly much much more.

If any further proof were necessary, PY is an example, as is the US, that the "trickle down" theory doesn`t work....

Tom, you mentioned the Tea Party. One thingīs for sure for me, if that group takes over, I may not live in PY, but I wonīt be living in the US.

Here's one of my favorite quotes of the year,

"I'm NOT a witch!"
-Christine O'Donnell

This one's even better.  I laughed myself off the couch:

@ Zollie, your "co-conspirator" post was great! 

I think the culture of bribing must end for the good of society and a vibrant economy.

When one finds himself in a culture of bribery it doesn't make sense to be the only one refusing or giving bribes.  I would participate, but prefer not to.
@ TomVacaville, I'm always surprised at the number of people who understand that fascism is the collaboration of government and big business.
I was reading through the Paraguayan Consulates web page; the section where consulate officials answer questions.

I was surprised that Mixicans only need a valid passport to visit  Paraguay, no visa!

I assumed that was a mistake.  But later found it re-iterated by another official.

I asked my sister-in-law, who is Mexican, why Mexicans are so cool that they don't need visas.  She didn't know, but Mexican coolness is well known worldwide.  She didn't need a visa to go to Jamaica.

So I went to the Mexican consulates page about visas. … r-services
There is a long list of first world countries who's citizens are exempt from getting Mexican visas.  The United States was not listed, and neither was Paraguay.

When in Rome, do as the Romans.

But if youīre not a Roman, do it very, very carefully....

In all seriousness, this whole issue revolves around several factors, but it illustrates the difficulty different cultures, and nations, have in understanding and communicating with each other.

Not as a response to this particular incident, but just in a general discussion with friends here in PY, they pointed out to me how much more difficult a Visa to the US, or residency in the US is for them, compared to US citizens in PY.

They also pointed out how different it is for a citizen of PY to visit the American Embassy, with all kinds of security checks and searchs, which they find very offensive, compared to the reverse of this for a US citizen visiting their embassy or government offices.

They want equal treatment. From their point of view, Paraguay is a sovereign nation, and if the US is going to be difficult, why cannot they be difficult?

On the surface, that argument makes sense. If you follow the news here in PY, youīll often hear that type of argument made.

However, I tried to point out that no one is going around the world trying to blow up any PY embassy they can. No one is probably going to kill them for no other reason than they are a citizen of Paraguay.

The world is more complex than this kind of simplistic thinking but itīs very easy and convenient not to acknowledge complexity or differences.

The relative situations of the US and Paraguay are very different when it comes to issues like immigration, security, and what is reasonable policy for one country may not be reasonable policy for another.

As a joke  (I hope) someone here sent me one of those things people put together, and forward to others by email that are supposed to be funny.

The title (in Spanish of course) said:

What are Americans going to say about this?

It was a picture of a black, African young man, a child really, holding a sign that said:

Your Christ is Jewish
Your letters are Latin
Your numbers are Arabic
Your democracy is Greek
Your stereos are Japanese
Your tvs are from Hong Kong
Your shirt is from Thailand
Your watch is Swiss
Your pizza is Italian
Your meat is from Argentina
Your oil is from Mexico
your language is from England


And you're the one who looks at him as a despised immigrant worker abroad?

I didnīt respond to the email, but it would be just as easy to make a similar list for any country.

I recently read that the US had given an initial $4M to PY to "modernize" its army, and more is to come later.

I asked someone here why the US needed to do this? There are people here who can write a check for $4M and never miss it.  I was told if the US will do it, why not?

I wonder who PY will call first if Argentina or Brazil or Bolivia decide to invade PY? Who will they call first if thereīs a natural disaster? Who will they call first if the friends they are courting in Venezuela and Cuba turn out to be not so good friends after all?

And who will respond to help? As we almost always do...

While this string of posts has wandered just a bit I wanted to get back to the original post by Zollie by posing a general question for those on this forum who have either lived in Paraguay for while or even better, are Paraguayan.  The question is whether you feel Paraguay is going to start changing or adding additional requirements to attain residency status?

I ask this since obviously there has been a bit of a change from the past regarding how things are handled on "restarting" the 90 day temporary stay limit for tourist visas.  So I'm wondering if this is either the start of upcoming changes or a tightening up of the current requirements.  Or is it just another inexplicable example of the adventures to be had in dealing with the local bureaucacy?

Overall I believe that the current requirements for Paraguayan residency are quite simple and straight forward.  Even taking into account the "adventures" one has with the various government agencies, at least everything is rather doable in moderate period of time.  Hopefully this won't change anytime soon.....

I would hope the same thing. I was told that the changes in tourist visa requirements were directed at Bolivians. How true this is, I donīt know.

I think it would be reasonable to expect that Residency Requirements could change depending on how Paraguay views other issues that may seem only indirectly related.

I donīt know Paraguay that well, Iīm still learning, and from a limited perspective. From what I know, it would not surprise me for Paraguay to become more restrictive, or to increase requirements, especially toward Americans.

It would surprise me, whatever the policy is about residency, if it were not open to various interpretations and enforcements, and if there were not available informal channels to make the process easier and quicker.

Mike.M :

@ Zollie, your "co-conspirator" post was great! 

I think the culture of bribing must end for the good of society and a vibrant economy.

When regular folks do it, it's called "bribery"; when corporations do it, it's called "lobbying."

Remember George Dubya campaigning in Enron's private jet?  (Then California had rolling blackouts, and Schwarzenegger blamed our Democratic Governor Gray Davis.)

Bringing it back to Paraguay, do a Google search on Henry Kissinger and the U.S. based agri-giant Archer Daniels Midland - ADM (Midland controls soy production in Paraguay which is the 4th largest exporter in the world).  You'll be surprised at what you find.  Kissinger once said, "Control food and you control the world."

  In  1974,  ADM  entered  into  a  price-fixing  scheme that
  overcharged the U.S. government $19  million  in  sales  of
  soy-fortified  food to the Food for Peace program.  ADM was
  convicted.  In  1976,  the  company  pleaded  no contest to
  federal charges that it had  systematically  short-weighted
  and  misgraded  federally  subsidized  grain that was being
  shipped abroad.

  In   1995,   the   U.S.   Justice  Department  launched  an
  investigation into fraud  and anti-competitive price-fixing
  in ADM's handling and  marketing  of  corn  sweeteners  and
  lysine -- a livestock feed supplement.

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