Acquiring Uzbekistan visas

By Betty Podol
This item appears on page 25 of the April 2017 issue.
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Uzbekistan was included in a trip to the ’Stans that my husband and I were planning to take in April 2016, so we applied for visas from the Uzbekistan Embassy in Washington, DC, mailing our applications and passports to them via the US Postal Service (USPS) on Jan. 27. We tracked them, and they arrived in two days.

On Feb. 9 we called the embassy and were told by a staff member that they had issued our visas on Feb. 4 and that the passports were on their way back to us. 

Then nothing.

We had included a self-addressed Priority envelope with tracking information. We kept checking the USPS website to see the status of the return envelope, but it was never scanned. 

On Feb. 11 we called again, and a consular officer said that one of their employees takes the embassy mail home each night and puts it in the mailbox at their apartment complex, thus they must have been mailed. 

When our passports still had not arrived a month later, we advised the Uzbeki officer that we would be reporting the mishandling of our passports to the USPS and to the US State Department. He immediately said, “We have diplomatic immunity” (in other words, ‘Tough luck’).

We called the State Department’s hot line to report the passports as missing or stolen (877/487-2778), and on Feb. 18 we went to the passport office in Washington, DC, and filled out forms for new passports. 

We had been told on the phone what we needed to take: copies of our driver’s licenses (both sides), copies of the stolen passports (which we had), birth certificates, photos, etc. The man at the desk said he had never seen a couple who had so much backup information, which made it quick and easy. 

Since we wanted expedited service, the new passports cost a little more than $150 each, and they were delivered to us on Feb. 22.

On Feb. 26 we went in person to the Uzbekistan Embassy and they gave us our visas in 15 minutes, but we each had to pay the $165 visa fee again. We couldn’t throw too much of a fit, as we were worried they might not issue us the visas. 

With having to pay twice for each visa and get new passports plus pay for more postage and the Metro/parking costs, the total additional cost was about $850 for both of us. (After getting new passports, we also had to reapply for our Turkmenistan visas, but at least there were no extra charges for those.)

Just before we left on our trip on April 6, about five weeks after getting the new visas, the old passports (which had, since, been canceled) arrived in the mail in the USPS Priority envelope we had provided. I took the envelope to our post office and had them open it, but I was told there was no way to know when or from where it had been mailed.

We are fortunate to live just outside Washington, DC. In the end, we made four trips in 10 days to Washington to get our Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan visas.

We have gotten visas on our own many, many times using USPS tracking, and this was the first time we’d ever had a problem. For anyone planning to go to Uzbekistan, our advice is do not attempt to get a visa, yourself. We recommend you use a visa service. 

BETTY PODOL
Reston, VA

ITN mailed a copy of Ms. Podol’s letter to the Uzbekistan Embassy (1746 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036) and also sent it by email (uzbekconsul.org@gmail.com). ITN received an emailed acknowledgement of receipt but no further response.  

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

Uzbekistan was included in a trip to the ’Stans that my husband and I were planning to take in April 2016, so we applied for visas from the Uzbekistan Embassy in Washington, DC, mailing our applications and passports to them via the US Postal Service (USPS) on Jan. 27. We tracked them, and they arrived in two days.

On Feb. 9 we called the embassy and were told by a staff member that they had issued our visas on Feb. 4 and that the passports were on their way back to us. 

Then nothing.

We had included a self-addressed Priority envelope with tracking information. We kept checking the USPS website to see the status of the return envelope, but it was never scanned. 

On Feb. 11 we called again, and a consular officer said that one of their employees takes the embassy mail home each night and puts it in the mailbox at their apartment complex, thus they must have been mailed. 

When our passports still had not arrived a month later, we advised the Uzbeki officer that we would be reporting the mishandling of our passports to the USPS and to the US State Department. He immediately said, “We have diplomatic immunity” (in other words, ‘Tough luck’).

We called the State Department’s hot line to report the passports as missing or stolen (877/487-2778), and on Feb. 18 we went to the passport office in Washington, DC, and filled out forms for new passports. 

We had been told on the phone what we needed to take: copies of our driver’s licenses (both sides), copies of the stolen passports (which we had), birth certificates, photos, etc. The man at the desk said he had never seen a couple who had so much backup information, which made it quick and easy. 

Since we wanted expedited service, the new passports cost a little more than $150 each, and they were delivered to us on Feb. 22.

On Feb. 26 we went in person to the Uzbekistan Embassy and they gave us our visas in 15 minutes, but we each had to pay the $165 visa fee again. We couldn’t throw too much of a fit, as we were worried they might not issue us the visas. 

With having to pay twice for each visa and get new passports plus pay for more postage and the Metro/parking costs, the total additional cost was about $850 for both of us. (After getting new passports, we also had to reapply for our Turkmenistan visas, but at least there were no extra charges for those.)

Just before we left on our trip on April 6, about five weeks after getting the new visas, the old passports (which had, since, been canceled) arrived in the mail in the USPS Priority envelope we had provided. I took the envelope to our post office and had them open it, but I was told there was no way to know when or from where it had been mailed.

We are fortunate to live just outside Washington, DC. In the end, we made four trips in 10 days to Washington to get our Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan visas.

We have gotten visas on our own many, many times using USPS tracking, and this was the first time we’d ever had a problem. For anyone planning to go to Uzbekistan, our advice is do not attempt to get a visa, yourself. We recommend you use a visa service. 

BETTY PODOL
Reston, VA

ITN mailed a copy of Ms. Podol’s letter to the Uzbekistan Embassy (1746 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036) and also sent it by email (uzbekconsul.org@gmail.com). ITN received an emailed acknowledgement of receipt but no further response.