Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hopefully, the final chapter of the comic saga that is our visa application

The mountain of paperwork relating to our visa application grows, as the comedy of errors continues. I say it's a comedy because I assume it will have a happy ending. The calm tone of the nice visa official who told me 'You're just missing a couple of documents now' suggested that the end is, at least, in sight.

But first, we need to provide those documents. The 140pp of evidence was not enough. We omitted to provide a copy of the deeds to my parents' home (our official UK residence), and a notarized copy of my passport. Silly us.

I said to the nice visa official, 'I'm sorry we missed those out. To be honest we have struggled to find guidance on the evidence required'. With a sniff, he told me there is ample guidance on the Border Agency website. I looked again. There really isn't. They direct you to the application form, which is apparently packed full of very clear advice on what to provide. Hmm. Unless I'm missing something, this visa form is pretty devoid of guidance on the required evidence. When this is all over I might just write a strongly worded letter to someone in authority about this form.

Meanwhile, we need to get those documents in the post to the nice visa official in NYC. My dad got on the case of the deeds pretty quickly*, and I just had the small matter of providing a notarized copy of my passport.

The thing is, I'm in Rio, and I don't speak the language. Unless broken Spanish and the odd 'obrigada' count. Fortunately I have some very helpful colleagues with a little bit of time on their hands. They made several, inexplicably long phone calls, with much laughter and words like 'Inglesa'  being bandied about. Not sure what was so funny or why it took so long but I'm very grateful for their patience and good humour. We're actually here to work, not take care of my personal admin, you see.

Instead of spending our Friday morning 'shaping our thinking' in front of a whiteboard, we spent it securing the services of a notary. First, we had to get a 'sworn translation' of my passport. The Brazilian notary won't authenticate something not written in Portugese. Even if it is words like 'NAME/ NOM' and 'SEX/ SEXE'. Rules is rules I suppose.

A lovely rotund man named Riccardo translated my passport overnight, for £20, and threw in two calendars. He also provided a curbside service, coming out in his flipflops, shorts and wifebeater to hand me the translation as we waited in our cab. What's more, I got a free a language lesson: when I said 'Molto obrigada', he scolded me, 'Molto is Italian, here in Brazil we say 'moito'. Now that's good value.

Language lesson over, we headed to the notary office, where trade was pretty slow: three notary dudes stood waiting, dot matrix printers and carbon copy pads at the ready. Five minutes and £10 later I had a fuzzy black and white copy of my passport, notarized in Portugese.
New additions to the paper mountain: several pages of my panicky scrawl, the notes from my colleagues' many phone calls to find me a notary, a free calendar, and oh, yes, a couple of pages of bureaucratic necessities.
I think we are nearly there. Crossing everything that this works...

*Would have been quicker if I'd got the address right. I told him to post it to 84 Third Ave, NY NY, not 845. It's a small detail but that's exactly the kind of muppetry that has extended this process. Fortunately I'm too busy being cross with the Border Agency website to kick myself for minor errors.


  1. just get matey to enrol for an english course in oxford street and he'll be waved right through forever. elvis oompa loompa, my 55 yr old bolivian kitchen porter came over in 2002 as a mature student and he's still here - of course he managed to work a 60 hour week and still have a 96% attendance record at his college. "thank you mr nick!"

  2. Ha! Elvis Oompa Loompa should have found a nice wiling British girl to marry...

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