A traveller has warned others over a passport mistake which could end up getting you banned from foreign countries.
I mean, no one wants to end their trip abroad sitting in an immigration room worrying.
But that’s what happened to Christine Retschlag. who had gone over to Vanuatu from Australia.
Writing on a blog for The Sydney Morning Herald’s Traveller, she said: “I have unwittingly become an illegal alien.”
When the woman arrived in the capital city of Port Vila at the beginning of her business trip, she handed over an approved letter of a 90-day single entry visa and had her passport stamped.
She then went on, enjoying her trip, but after 60 days she realised the absolute ‘horror’ of what had actually happened.
Retschlag was chatting with a colleague about visas and decided to dig out hers and assess the arrival stamp.
“I have been stamped with a 30-day visa,” she wrote. “For the past 30 days I have overstayed my welcome.”
When the woman checked the Vanuatu Immigration site she says it only stated two types of business visa – her 90-day single entry and a 10-month multiple entry.
Retschlag says she ‘never bothers’ to look at her passport after arrival and frantically contacted a long-term Aussie expat living in the country.
Her friend told her she was ‘the fourth person’ they’d heard of this happen to in the past year, with them ended up fined thousands.
They also added that she’d likely be given 24 hours to leave and a ‘DEPORTED’ stamped in her passport.
But as others told her not to listen to other expats, she wrote: “I waver between not knowing who to believe and triple-checking the stark stamp in my passport hoping it has magically transformed itself.”
Retschlag had a ‘fixer’ arranged to accompany her to the immigration office, where they agreed ‘it’s a mistake on their part’.
It was corrected with stamping ‘cancelled’ on the incorrect visa while issuing a new, correct 90-day one dating back to when she arrived.
She was assured it wouldn’t cause her any future issues but she wasn’t totally convinced.
After her stressful experience, she warned: “Be aware of the visa status which applies to you; always print out a copy of your immigration letter; take a trusted local with you should you need to meet with officials; don’t listen to expat horror stories; and always check your passport stamp on arrival.”Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock Images