I first came to Nepal on a tourist visa that I got on arrival at the Tribhuvan International Airport. We were able to register our marriage before that visa expired, so by the time I needed to renew it, I was already eligible for a spouse (non-tourist) visa. This is how we did it.
DISCLAIMER: This is my personal account of how we did it, sometime during the last quarter of 2016 and first quarter of 2017. I include tips and other information that might be useful, but things might change in the future. Your primary source of information should be the official website of the Nepal Department of Immigration.
Now that we’re clear on that, here we go…
Important note 1: All visa applications must be done online. There are two ways to do this.
- Go to their website and fill up the application form there. When you click submit, it sends you a confirmation email, which you have to print and sign and bring with you to the Immigration office.
- Walk in. There are two kiosks on the ground floor where you can enter your information on the application form on site.
I’ve tried both ways because I mistakenly clicked on the wrong visa type when I filled up the online form so I had to do it again at the kiosk when we got there. I would suggest doing it online ahead of time because most of the tourist visa renewals go for the second option so the line can be a bit long. Also, one of the kiosks was a bit problematic. At the time that we were there, an office personnel helped us fill the form and he had to restart the machine at some point. There isn’t always someone around to help so it’s just better to come with everything ready.
Tourist visa processing is on the ground floor, and then there’s a first floor, and then the non-tourist visa processing is on the second floor (I consider this the third floor already). There are signs, you won’t miss it. The good thing is that everyone who needs to look at your application and sign off on it (with the exception of one) are all gathered together in one room. So it’s very convenient. If it’s your first time, you need the signature of another person who’s in the first floor, but that’s the only exception.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Application form
- Passport of the foreign spouse
- Citizenship card of the Nepali spouse
- Marriage Registration Certificate, issued by the District Administration Office
*Bring photocopies of the documents. When you photocopy the passport, include the page with the latest visa.
Important note 2: The Nepali spouse MUST be present during the visa application. This is what the immigration office requires. I needed to sign the application form, but when we got there, they only needed his thumb prints. I am not sure if the foreign spouse is required to be there but we always went there together anyway.
Important note 3: Visa renewal is straightforward. But if it’s your first time to apply for it, there’s one extra step that might take a long time. You need to fax a copy of your Marriage Certificate to the District Administration Office where you got it. And they should reply with a letter addressed to the Department of Immigration attesting to the authenticity of said certificate. It should say something along the lines of “Mr&Mrs are in our records, and that the certificate they’re carrying is authentic and was issued by our office.”
When Scott called the District Administration Office to confirm if they received the faxed document, the person on the line said yes, but that he should wait for about an hour for their response because they’re very busy at the moment. So we did have to wait a bit for that to come through. But the people at the immigration office said that that was already quite fast, and that they didn’t expect us to finish everything within the day. So I guess in some cases it takes much longer.
I should also point out that we registered our marriage in Nepal [I wrote a three-part series about it]. If you registered your marriage abroad, you have to get the certification from your embassy. We didn’t do this, so I can’t talk about it. The Immigration website lists this verification letter as a requirement, but only indicated it for marriages registered abroad. We didn’t know we also needed it, and I wasn’t sure if it was something that we could’ve brought with us before going there. But there’s a fax machine on the upper floors so you can do it once you get there.
Once you have everything cleared, you can pay at one of the counters on the ground floor. At the time of our application, it was $10 per month. I renewed on a monthly basis because I didn’t know how long I’ll be staying in the country, so I don’t know the maximum number of months that you can apply for. And there’s no discount when you apply for multiple months anyway, so it doesn’t matter if you just take it one month at a time. If you plan on going out of Nepal at some point within your visa validity, you can pay an additional $20 to make it a single re-entry visa, and $60 if you want it to be a multiple re-entry visa.
On average this takes about an hour. But that office processes other types of non-tourist visas as well (students, NGO workers, visiting relatives, foreigners with Nepali roots, etc) so the waiting time depends on how many people are there trying to do the same thing as you. But overall, it’s a pretty streamlined process. Not every transaction you have with a government office is straightforward, but this one is.