On Tuesday April 26, I had a 12pm appointment at the Nigerian Consulate to apply for my visa. I was so perplex that I had to show up in person🤯. I guess that’s where the racket started. What made this so perplexing is that there is an online process to apply and pay. I was required to then print the application and supportive documents and bring them to the Consulate on my appointment date. It just seemed like busy work to me.
To say that the folks at the consulate rocked my nerves, would be an understatement.
I was actually excited about going to the Consulate. It was one of the final steps in this long arduous process of preparing for this Missions Trip. I have never been to a Consulate before and I love nothing more than a new experience. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was game. So with my paid applications in hand, paid driver, and all required documents. Me and 2 others missionaries from my group made the early morning trip to Atlanta. We were ready, well at least we thought we were.
We arrived early, 11:30am, and decided to go in to see if they would take us early (I always push boundaries).
As my group was about to enter the Consulate, our Mission’s leader and her husband were walking out. They were all smile and were excited. The process was fast and had gone without a hitch they said. As long as you brought all your documents, you all would be fine, they said. We did a photo opt in the outside breeze way with them, shared a few laughs then entered the Consulate.
Trish, Pat, Carmella and Wanda
Us with Stu, affectionately known as Papa Stu
I walked up to the desk and introduced my self (the others took a seat because their appointments were at 2pm). Just as I suspected, they took me early. I gave the intreviewer my application as requested and almost immediately she spots and error on the second page.
The representative immediately said that I would need to fill out a new application, pay $160 again and come back another day. By this time I’m almost deaf. I was like say that one more time and she repeated, you need to fill out a new application, pay the $160 again and schedule another appointment. I looked her dead in her eyes and said I don’t live around the corner. I live in Charlotte. This is not going to work for me. I asked, can you just update or change the application and she said no. My next question was what are my other options. She said well if you can fill out another application, pay the $160 again and get everything done by 5pm. I can process your application today.
I took a deep breath. In this moment, I’m feeling less charitable, less like a missionary and drained from all enthusiasm about completing the mission in Nigeria that I had prayed about months earlier and ultimately agreed to go.
There was a computer on the other side of the room. I asked, can I use that computer to complete the online visa application. She said yes but it’s going to cost you $50 to use our computer and then pointed at the sign. At this point I’m flaming hot, almost to the point that I am now shaking a little. I gather my self and said let‘s just get it done. I asked could one of the other ladies take my appointment and I‘d take her 2 o'clock app (I’m confident in my mind that I can get everything done in 2 hours). She agreed.
It wasn’t long in the other lady‘s interview that another error is spotted in our sponsor letter. When traveling to Nigeria as a missionary, you need someone on the other side to take full financial responsibility for you. The Letter that our sponsor wrote was missing some verbiage, the word “full”. The crazy part is they just except the same letter from our missions leader and her husband without a problem.
Let me just cut to the chase. With some help, my group was able to contact our sponsor from Nigeria. get the letter corrected and emailed to us. Around the time we received the update letter. I was done with my 2nd application.
Little did we know, the folks at the Consulate wasn’t done scamming us yet. Even though one email was sent with an updated letters for each of us. we all had to pay $25 to print the letter. Yeah, you heard me right. They made $75 for 3 pages. I’m all for businesses making a profit but they’re making a killing. The other ladies that were with me ended up paying $55 each. Thirty dollars to process the visa application (we expected this cost) and $25 to print the new letter. I didnt get off so easy. I had to pay another $160 for the new visa application, $25 to print the updated sponsor letter, $50 to use that broke down slow computer and the $30 visa processing fee. By the time they finished processing my visa, took my finger prints and picture, I was spent (mentally). I had had it. I just starred at the representative at the consulate. I let her know that she really worked my last good nerve. I’m not easily rattled but she had pushed me wayyyyyy pass the point of civility. I think it was the combination of her attitude and the money grab. I thank God that I didn’t fly off the handle or act out. I was able to let her know that she was being unreasonable without going off.
As I was leaving, she soften up a little and begin to be helpful. I know that it helped that I was praying the entire time. She told be about the possible refund for the 1st application (with the error on it) and gave me the instructions for that process. I reiterated to her how crazy the process was and her response was, but you got it all done though🙄