Monday, September 20, 2010

In the Consulate's Lair

Some of you have been asking about visa updates. You haven't heard from me because there have been no updates; I have been waiting for a response just like everyone else! NOW, though, there is an update and it comes with a very good story. It starts 15 business days ago when I received an email from the consulate telling me that they were going to take 15 business days to process my application instead of the normal five. I hoped/assumed I would hear my visa status last week, since everyone has to assume these people will give you the outside date just to be safe. But by Friday I had still not heard from the consulate. I had a lot to do and so I didn't think of the grave implications until I was lying in bed trying to get to sleep. I had no choice but to push it quickly from my mind; I could have stayed up all night worrying if I had let myself think about it.

Saturday was an emotional day. The full impact of my move was starting to hit me. I felt like I was leaving my beloved home in Minnesota all over again, except this time I am leaving without my family or husband. I have made so many wonderful friends here; now I need to say goodbye to all of them without knowing when I will see any of them again. We've had people coming to see our apartment and it is finally striking me that my home - the place I created after my wedding and the place where my husband and I started our married life - is going to others. My last Saturday in Provo reminded me of how much I was losing - at least temporarily.

So, when my practical father reminded me of the reality of my tenuous visa status, I finally broke down. It's been verging for a few weeks now, but it wasn't until 1) I was forced to think about hard, cold visa backup plans [including an emergency trip to LA after I finished work on Monday] and 2) I realized that if I traveled to LA almost all of my remaining nights left with Dave would be spent without Dave, that the tears struck.

While David was on the phone with his mother that evening, he mentioned my predicament. At that point, the visa was not the biggest issue; rather, I could not leave the country without a passport and my passport was still in LA with my visa application. I knew that if I didn't hear from the consulate by Monday, I wouldn't have my passport in time to make my flight. Very stressful all around. David's mother, being the amazingly generous, wonderfully proactive woman that she is, volunteered to make the long drive to LA so that she could be there in the consulate at 8:00 am Monday morning. My dad called Imagine Learning's notary and at 8:00 am Sunday morning I was in his office, signing a Power of Attorney that gave Paula the ability to act as I would and retrieve the visa if possible.

So yesterday Paula drove to LA and first thing this morning, as she promised, she was standing in the consulate trying to speak with anyone who would listen. We knew beforehand that it might be impossible; after all, these people refuse both phone calls and emails. Sure enough, civilians can't get anywhere near the visa office. Apparently there is a guard standing cross-armed in front of the door. He refused to talk to any of the other people there. One lady had applied on September 1st and had a plane leaving tomorrow morning. She received no sympathy. Paula, though, showed him my re-printed application and when the guard saw the mid-August date he actually took pity! I knew I had just barely hit the backlog - Courtney and Kathryn had only applied for their visas a few days before I did and both heard back within a week!

So the guard took the application up to one of the visa clerks, who looked up my name and discovered that my application was due for processing tomorrow. I had to make a decision: wait the extra day and hope they approve my application and send the documents quickly or cancel the application, relinquish the $130 I paid to apply but receive my passport before Friday. I asked Paula if they would take the paragraph mistake explanation I had sent with her and consider it with my application. After GREAT persuasion (and a Utah guard who understood exactly how long the drive from Salt Lake to LA can be), the guard returned to the clerk's office and convinced the clerk to bring out my application and give a preliminary verdict. She did say that the application would be rejected due to the timing mistake, which made the decision easy: I sent the cancel request early this afternoon and received a UPS confirmation number within an hour.

So the news is generally happy. I don't have a visa but I have a passport! If I can get to England then I will figure out what to do there. Technically, you can stay in England six months without a visa. I owe so much to my mother-in-law. She was able to accomplish 100% more than anyone else who entered the consulate with visa concerns today and she allowed me to spend an extra two nights with my husband. I feel so unbelievably grateful for two families who love David and me so much and are always perfectly supportive. They constantly do little things for us and even when great things are required, they will not hesitate to do what is needed. What an incredible blessing to have celestial families here in our telestial earth! What would we do without them?


Ashley said...

Wow!!!!!!!!! Paula IS amazing!!!! That's a LOT of love right there =] I too am grateful for wonderful family and friends who show that love in so many ways =D Good luck with your visa stuff and the move to England! If I ever make my way over there, you can bet I'll be seeing you!

Scott said...

I seem to remember an American branch president i had on my mission that just left the country every couple months to avoid the 3 or 6 month rules in the EU. So every 5 months just hop on the Eurostar and go to Paris for a day. Then your 6 months in England is renewed upon coming back into the country.

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