Q&A

How to extend your research visa in Myanmar

Mingalabar,

In the hope it could be useful to someone, I’m posting the standard visa extension process that you can perform at the Yangon Immigration Office (on Pansodan St). I struggled for nearly 7 months (here, in Thailand and in Switzerland) before finally obtaining a long term stay permit.

Here is the process:

Your Myanmar host institution must send a letter requesting a visa extension for you to the Ministry to which it is affiliated (in my case, Mandalay University wrote to the Ministry of Education). Note that Tourist visas cannot be extended. For Social visas the process is different. This is valid for Research/Meeting/Journalist, University/Teaching and Business visas.

You must wait until said Ministry approves the request and forwards the information to the Ministry of Immigration in Nay Pyi Daw. MOI will eventually send an approval letter to the Yangon Office. This can take some time, so better plan ahead. If the approval letter comes late, you will have to pay overstay fees (3 USD per day). What they take into account is the date on which the letter is released by the concerned Ministry.

You must go to Yangon (the bus is better than the plane for your carbon footprint ) with the following items:
– The approval letter, sent to your host institution by the relevant Ministry, stating that your extension has been approved up to X (whatever expiry date you asked).
– A recommendation letter from your host institution stating you need an extension until X.
– A copy of both those letters.
– 7 ID photos. Yes, 7.
– 4 copies of your passport: ID page + current Myanmar visa page + entry stamp page.

At the Immigration Office, downstairs, the officers will take your letters, 2 of your ID pictures and passport copies, and give you their own copy of the letter they received from MOI. You will have to bring it to the shop next door to make a copy. They will also give you an extension bill to pay at the cash counter. The price depends on how much you ask for. Basically, 50 USD for 3 months single entry, 100 USD for 6 months, 120 USD for 6 months double entry, 200 USD for 6 months multiple entry, etc… You can only pay in cash with pristine USD bank notes.

Once you bring them back the copied letter and show them the receipt, the downstair-officers will send you upstairs to buy, fill and make a copy of a Foreign Registration Certificate Form (200 kyats to buy it, and you can make a copy at the shop next door for 100 kyats). The upstair-officers will take 2 more of your passport copies and 5 ID pictures.

You then have to go back downstairs to pay the FRC fee at the cash counter. The certificate is 9 USD and valid for one year no matter what you ask for. Climb back upstairs with the receipt and receive your FRC. Take it downstairs to the shop next door, copy it, and bring the copy back to the upstair-officers. Take some time to breathe.

Go back to the downstair-officers… to receive a Stay Permit Application Form. This one is free. Fill it, return to the copy shop to make a copy of it, hand the copy to the downstair-officers aaaand congratulations, if you made it this far both the Immigration Officers and the staff from the copy shop are probably laughing a lot because you look desperate and are sweating like you just ran a marathon.

However, it’s over. The downstair-officers stamp your passport, you have your extension and you can crawl back into the Yangon heat with your Stay Permit, your 2 receipts, your stamped passport, and the certitude that you love nothing more in this world than Myanmar bureaucracy (this said, the officers in Yangon are actually really lovely and compassionate).

Back in your township, you will still have to show your Stay Permit and your newly stamped Passport to the Immigration Office.

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