who ... moi?

a social butterfly: scared of much, but not of many. never lets the truth get in the way of a good story. not a fan of acronyms, snakes and angelina jolie. a HUGE fan of Fathead.

this blog is black for ENERGY-SAVING reasons.

thanks for your understanding.
if it's too dark, put your glasses on old one.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

the other great barrier, down under

i thought i was being completely organised and forward-thinking, when i decided to start researching the australian visa application process.  it was over a month ago, and considering the fact that Fathead and i are only due to enter down under in december ... i saw this as rather proactive.

thank goodness i did start the investigation so soon.  little did we know back then, of the tedious string of back-and-forth emails we would need to endure.  and they were just the tip of the iceberg.

it started with a inquiry to the global australian embassy, who upon reading that we were south african (and duly ignoring the rest of the email, explaining our dilemma of not actually being based in the country) - forwarded me on, to the embassy back home.  from here, i had the delight of dealing with one zweletu, who took a week to respond with a one-liner, asking which passports we'd be applying with.

returning the email she already had, back to her - i highlighted that, as previously stated, we were south africans - and therefore would not be using our uzbekistan passports for the process.

another week went by.

finally, zweletu came back to say that she couldn't help me, given that we were in south korea (like she'd just figured this fact out).  rather, she offered helpfully, contact the australian embassy immigration department.

thanks zwe.  so, forwarding the original email on, i duly contacted said department.

despite their auto-response email stating that they would get back to me in 48hrs, it was another week of waiting.  then, finally, a response!

"good day miss douglas

as you are a south african passport holder, you will need to process this request through our south african embassy."

sigh.  thank you mo-fo's.  that had not occurred to my pea-sized brain. kindly re-read the below email and assist?

"good day miss douglas

as you are not based in your country of origin, you will need to seek further assistance with the following department:


umm? nigeria? nigeria?!

have you people actually looked a a map of the world recently?  they moved nigeria to the north-western coast of africa, when the continent broke away from the america's a while back.

so online correspondence wasn't working out for us too well then.

plan b:
call the australian embassy in seoul.

turns out, you can do it here - no problem.
5 working days turn-around time.
730 south african ronds.

problem was, we only 7 working days left until our departure to vietnam, and given that the embassy closes over weekends, we had very limited time to get all documents and dna samples to the embassy, in time to have our passports returned to us by next friday.

despite the tight timings, Fathead and i launched into a panicked attempt to sort things out.  so on thursday, during our lunch break we called a taxi to the school and raced into town.

it felt like an episode of the amazing race.   the mad rush began at the bank, where our usual session of faux-american accents and plenty of charades managed to communicate that we needed our bank statements certified.  then it was off to the post office, where more hand gestures and slow, over-pronounced speech established that this post office did not do what the embassy said "all post offices" did.

for the postal money order, we were told, you would need to go back to the bank.  so back to the bank we trekked - through a haze of humid pollution, the sweat now pouring off us.  of course, the bank didn't do what the post office said "all banks" did.

we would need to go into seoul for the required documentation.  there was plenty of co-ordinated "you go to the ATM, i'll go to grab some lunch, meet me outside the convenience store in 10 mins" (as we only had one cell phone between us, and 20 mins to catch a taxi and be back in class).

in the nick of time - we made it back to school over-stressed, underfed and drenched in sweat.

plan c:
research the possibility of getting the visa's in vietnam.  we were told (by the embassy in south korea) that we would not be able to process our applications in a country in which we were not permanent residents.

post several long-distance phone calls to the vietnam and thailand embassies, we discovered that it was, in fact, possible.  it would just require birth certificates, medical records, employment contracts, bank statements, blood types, alien-registration numbers, passports, letters of invitation from australian citizens, letters of employment, confirmation of flight details, application forms, detailed itineraries, payment through postal money orders and letters to the embassy promising that we intended to get the fak out of the country - and had no intention of setting up shop down under.

that's all.

this, compared to the vietnam visa's which involved one email and a three day turn-around time. take it and go.

anyway, i guess the harder the process, the greater the reward. hopefully this is the end of the great visa debacle of 2010.  at the end of this dark bureaucratic tunnel is a Fathead family reunion where we'll be meeting several new little family members for the first time.

and that makes this all worth it.

No comments:

Post a Comment