At the moment Americans and New Zealanders can enter the country and stay up to 30 days without the need to fill out any forms and pay for a visa. The Czech government is to decide whether their stay could be extended for up to 90 days without any visa requirements. The 90 days extension may also be awarded to citizens of Japan, Andorra, San Marina, Monaco and Malta. Visas are often quite pricey, a single entry visa for up to 90 days runs from about 20 to 70 USD - while a multiple entry visa costs approximately 40 to 180 USD depending on citizenship.
But gaining extended entry into the Czech Republic is not just a matter of paying a fee and getting papers signed. The process can often be quite convoluted. I spoke with Andrew Barton, a New Zealander who lives and works in the Czech Republic about his experience with the Czech visa process and how he feels about the possibility of an extension to 90 days.
"We tend to be discriminated against somewhat, in comparison with Europeans and North Americans because we are required things like super legalisation of University degrees and statements from the criminal register in our own country, which is an extremely complicated process to go through. If, like me, you're from New Zealand and there is no Czech embassy in New Zealand and there is no New Zealand embassy in the Czech Republic, you end up going through Australia and it proves to be a drawn out and extremely expensive process."
Victoria Middleton is from the US embassy here in Prague:
"Anyone who is planning to stay for longer than 30 days needs to apply for a visa in advance from the Czech embassy or consulate abroad. It is not possible to extend ones stay or change their status from within the Czech Republic. There is a lot of information available on the requirements for Czech visas and the procedures for applying from different Czech embassies and consulates abroad. For example the Czech embassy in Washington has a good web site with instructions and the Czech Ministry of Interior also has some English language information available."
I also asked whether the Czech government's extended stay amendments would be reciprocated by the United States - so that Czech citizens could travel there more freely.
"At the moment there are no plans to expand the visa waiver program. In fact there is discussion going on in the United States right now concerning whether or not the programme is working as it was intended to work when it was set up or whether a significant number of people who are coming in from countries without a visa are indeed over staying and perhaps working illegally in the United States. So this discussion is going on at the moment."
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