...still don't know what day I leave
Soooooo in order to get a student visa to Brazil, you need a lot of documentation. Here's a quick rundown of the Brazilian visa application process if you live in the United States:
Step #1: You collect all of the required documentation, including your passport, extra passport photos of you, birth certificate, FBI background check, and various other papers. You have to begin doing this a couple months before you plan on leaving because some of the documents you need take some time to acquire.
Step #2: You sign all the papers that need to be signed and notarize all the papers that need to be notarized.
(Fun twist: if you're a minor, you need to get your parents signatures as well and there are more papers to sign)
Step #3: Once you have all of it collected, you go online and apply for your visa and print out your visa application receipt. That needs to be signed and you have to glue one of the passport photos to it. The photo looks like a mugshot. In mine I looked like a hangry zombie that hadn't slept in the last 48 hours.
Step #4: Then you go online and make an appointment to visit the Brazilian consulate in San Francisco in person to deliver the documentation for processing. You need the visa application receipt to make the appointment. You print the appointment receipt out too and then you're all set to fly to San Francisco. If you can't fly down there yourself, you can have a proxy deliver the visa application for you. It has to be delivered in person. Not mailed. Oh, and you have to sign a paper that says the proxy can deliver the visa application for you.
Step #5: After it's delivered, it takes 5 business days to process. If all goes well and you're not missing any papers, they approve your visa and ship it to you.
I messed up on Step #1. With the FBI background check. Typically the FBI background check takes 6-12 weeks to process (unless you go through a more expensive FBI-approved channeler) and my mistake was waiting to mail the FBI request until I had all my paperwork completed. I sent it in early June. It's been about 8 weeks now, and still no sign of it. So, I emailed the FBI and requested an update on where my background check was at. They emailed back saying they were still opening requests from May 22nd and hadn't reached mine yet. Understandable. They get thousands of requests for various reasons everyday. I get it.
But the consulate visit I was directed to schedule by my rotary club is on August 9th. I need all my paperwork by then. So, I sent in another request to an FBI-approved channeler and am currently hoping I get it back in time for the consulate visit.
I can't get my plane tickets until I have a visa, so it's just a waiting game. It'll all be worth it when I'm in Brazil.
I'm not writing this to complain. Applying for a visa takes patience and time and I know the end result is me flying to Brazil, so it's worth the time and effort.
My advise to anyone applying for a visa to Brazil is this:
-Make sure you start working on the paperwork a few months before your planned departure date.
-Make at least 2 copies of all your important documents in case any of them get misplaced/lost in the mail/chewed up by your dog/etc. and
If I had to guess on when my departure date was, I'd say August 17th. Just a guess.
In the meantime, while I wait, I've been hiking, hanging out, seeing friends, and just enjoying the rest of summer. School here starts on August 14th and it's weird to not worry about that.
I'm ready to go to Brazil now.