Why does the Bolivian government retain your passport when you apply for residency?

Sorry, I posted my original question in another part of the website before I noticed this forum.
Would someone please explain to me why the Bolivian Government HOLDS your passport during the entire Residency Application process? Doing such a thing while remaining in a foreign country is disconcerting as it is hardwired into me to NEVER relinquish my passport for obvious personal security reasons. Is this standard worldwide when applying for residency?

Thank you!

Comments for Why does the Bolivian government retain your passport when you apply for residency?

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Jan 19, 2011
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Passport
by: Canuck

Thank you for this information and I'm sorry you and your husband had such an unfortunate experience! I am currently only researching the tourist and residency requirements for Bolivia. It alarmed me when I read that our passports would be out of our possession during the application time. It seems highly irregular! The only time they ever have been out of our possession was when reapplying for new ones in Canada, because as you mentioned, they belong to the Canadian Government. My partner and I are looking to visit as tourists first to determine if Bolivia is a good choice for retiring. If we apply for residency, likely it will be as a retirees and not for work or volunteering. I don't know that an 'agency' or 'organization' will be involved at that stage because of this. I will contact the Canadian Government regarding the 'keeping' of passports during residency application processes. Hopefully they will have some guidelines regarding the matter. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Jan 19, 2011
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How To Rescue Your Passport
by: Susan

The Bolivian government holds your passport during the entire residency application process because the organization you are working for is using the government as an excuse for their personal reasons. If the company you are working for wants to help you get a Resident Visa sticker on your passport, then they can arrange for this rather quickly by paying either the government officials directly or paying a person who has connections to the officials who can authorize your passport. I would advise that you speak to your organization's senior management today.
Your passport is not your document to be handed around. It actually belongs to the government of your country. You are simply the keeper of that document and are responsible for its whereabouts at all times. Indeed, it is troubling, restrictive and dangerous not to have it in your possession.
My husband and I have worked extensively throughout the world teaching English as a second language, and have only ever had our passports out of our possession for two weeks, specifically in China, in order to have a Residency Visa applied to it.
If you are not getting any response from the organization you are working for, we recommend that you contact your country?s embassy or consulate. This is exactly what we had to do in order for our passports to be returned to us. Regretfully, we handed over our passports to the director of Bolivia Cambrian College along with six hundred bolivianos each so that she could hire a local person to have our passports stamped with resident stickers. After a few weeks, we spoke to the school director and she told us that our passports had been driven over the border into Argentina. However, the government there refused to stamp them again with a visitor sticker. This ridiculous and illegal ploy was meant to extend our stay in Bolivia as visitors. Two months and twenty-seven days later, three days before we would have been considered illegal in Bolivia, we had to resort to threatening to bring our Canadian consulate representative with us to get our passports back. Surprisingly, the passports were in her desk, without residency authorization. The director?s next desperate attempt to have us continue working for her legally, was to have us take our passports on a thirteen-hour bus trip from Santa Cruz de la Sierra to an Argentinean border town, cross into Argentina and then back again into Bolivia. We refused this outrageous idea and escaped her corruption with our passports in hand.
Do not wait until you are desperate. Get this passport matter settled immediately or you will be in the country illegally and subject to arrest, and at the mercy of your employer.


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