Wednesday, September 1, 2010

There is suddenly a chance I may not go to England. Ever, actually! I might be permanently banned! How many people can say that?

Courtney Innes, one of my best friends from Jerusalem and soon to be roommate/program buddy, just received news that her visa was rejected. It's ridiculous; she was a Rhodes Scholar finalist and now they won't let her in! Their loss. But I made the same mistake as she did on the application. For the first time, our part-time program is requiring their students to apply for visiting student visas instead of full-time student visas. It's a terrible pain; it means I have to reapply for a visa after every term and leave the country every six months. And it makes me feel very un-official, like I'm just "visiting" Cambridge. On the visa application, they asked how long the program was going to be. Both of us honestly and naively told the British consulate that coursework lasted until mid-July. Apparently, trying to apply for a six month visiting student visa when you are going to a nine-month program guarantees you an automatic failed visa and a ban from trying to re-apply or appeal.

Unfortunately, Courtney didn't receive word about the rejection until four hours after I had spent $18 overnighting MY application (with the same exact problem) to the British Consulate in LA. So I spent Monday writing a lengthy explanation letter to the only people I could get a hold of: WorldBridge, the 3rd party company hired to answer all visa questions so the Consulate people don't have to have any contact with the outside world. They say right on their site that
"the decision to issue or refuse an entry clearance is made solely by Entry Clearance Officers at the British embassy. WorldBridge staff has no power or influence over the success of applications."
However, I received a rather hopeful reply from them on Tuesday:
"Thank you for submitting your email enquiry. In regards to your question, we would like to let you know that due to the nature of your request it is being escalated for detailed research. Please be informed that we understand the importance of your issue, and we strive to respond as quickly and thoroughly as possible."
I still haven't heard back, but I am praying hard that someone is actually taking care of things over there. If you have mighty prayers to ascend in my behalf as well, I would definitely appreciate them. In the meantime, anyone know of any openings in American Jewish-Christian Relations programs? :P

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