As I found it hard to find any recent information on this topic, I decided to write a quick overview of my experiences with extending a tourist visa in the CA-4 countries (Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala). Please bear in mind that these procedures change all the time. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any further info on this topic.
Our situation: We entered the CA-4-region in Nicaragua and used up the entire 90 days there. As we also wanted to travel to El Salvador and Guatemala, we decided to head to Managua ten days before our visas expired to get it renewed.
Extensions in Nicaragua
Most likely, there’s more cities where you can get this done. This is the places we know about.
They will send your passport to Managua. So you’ll want to get this process started with at least a week to spare before your visa expires. As we heard stories of passports getting lost on the way, we decided against it.
The only place you can apply for an extension is at the main office. Other branches (such as metrocentro) do not process any visa extensions anymore. The extension will be done the same day, but they might refuse to do anything if you’re visa expires in less than ten days.
What you need to bring:
- Copies of your passport: main page (in color (so I heard, not sure, though)) and page with stamp of entry into CA-4-region
- proof of onward travel (careful here! I was denied an extension because my ticket to El Salvador was for the same week. They told me to get the extension there. My boyfriend, who was next in line, told them he’d stay in Nicaragua for another 1,5 months and got 30 days. They didn’t ask him for a ticket out of the country.)
- proof that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay (a screenshot on the cellphone of a banking statement was enough –> your name must be on it)
What you have to do:
- Get to the office in the morning, if you can (you’ll have to wait quite a bit)
- buy a form called ‘prórroga de estancia’ at counter 22 for 5 Cordoba
- the uniformed officers at the table outside the building will help you fill the form in
- with the form and your passport copies, go to the guy at the wooden counter by the entrance and get a number
- wait in section D until your number is called (if it’s not, which is very likely, just walk up to an empty counter)
- once you’re up, hand everything over and hope for the best
- if you get the extension, you have to go over to the ‘caja’ and pay 500 Cordoba for every 30 days extension
- with the payment slip you go back to section D and will eventually get your stamped passport back
Our overall impression of this procedure was not so great. Mainly, of course, because I got denied and was pretty devastated. But it’s also pretty chaotic and many things don’t really make sense, i.e. Marcel gets an extension and I don’t. Plus the fact that they wouldn’t give him more than 30 days. When I went to talk to them again, they also advised me against traveling to El Salvador, saying that I would not get an extension anywhere in the CA-4-region and that I should instead leave the region. They couldn’t explain why. To this day, I still don’t really get what I did wrong.
Extensions in El Salvador
I strongly recommend getting to the immigration office at least ten days before your visa expires. Otherwise, they might not approve it or you will not get your passport back in time. I was lucky and got it done three days before expiration.
Here‘s where we got our visa extended.
What you need to bring:
- copies of every used page in your passport
- proof of onward travel (or a good explanation why you don’t have it)
- proof that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay (it has to be printed out and show your full name on it)
- You’re supposed to have a Salvadorian come with you and vouch for you. If you can prove that you’re a tourist and don’t know anyone here, they will understand. It helps if you have copies of your hotel bookings for the time you spent in El Salvador.
- a passport picture
What you have to do:
- tell the guard at the door that you’re here for a ‘prórroga’ and he’ll let you in
- tell the same thing to the lady at ‘información’ – she’ll give you a ticket and tell you where to go
- Once your number is called, a lady there will ask you quite a few questions. It probably helps if you speak Spanish (I don’t know if they speak English, they might). She will give you a form and explain everything in detail. She will also tell you what documents you need.
- You can now leave the office. It’s up to you if you want to continue the process right away or return another day.
- When you come back with all your documents, get another number at ‘información’.
- Once your number is called, hand over all the papers to the lady and she will check everything. If everything is in order, she will send you to a counter outside, where your number is called and you pay USD 25 (no matter how many days extension you apply for)
- with the payment slip, go back to the same lady and she will give you a provisional passport and tell you when you can come back to pick yours up (in 2-3 days)
- don’t lose that cardboard passport and be back to pick up your newly stamped passport
The process in El Salvador was a dream compared to Nicaragua. It’s very organized, everyone is very friendly and helpful and while they look at everything very closely, I felt treated much fairer. It was also very quick and we never had to wait more than two minutes. Unfortunately, Marcel could not apply for another extension. You can only apply for an extension once in the CA-4-countries (regardless of how many days you get). But I got the 60 days without any problems!