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Revenge of the bureaucrats.

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It was Her that I felt sorry for, She was the one who was going to have to do all the paperwork, all over again.

After the initial shock of the total destruction of our schedule had had time to sink in (we had already booked the date for the wedding, as required by the visa rules, and I had paid the deposit on a two bedroom flat for us which I was going to be paying for until we were married and She could start work) we started going through the new requirements for Her application.

Some of the mistakes, errors and avoidable misunderstandings that we’d had inflicted on us by the out of date official websites were obviously common causes of grief for other applicants, as a quick search of forums devoted to the subject (stop sniggering at the back, Hindsight) showed that there were people who hadn’t found out all the new rules before submitting their documents and had their visas refused.
We too could have sent incomplete or incorrect documents and failed in our application, through nothing more than following the posted regulations. There were a whole range of things we hadn’t been aware of.
For instance;
– Supplying my payslips and bank statements, instead of just one or the other.
– The biometric readings they had to have taken in America.
– Sending all the documents back to the UK.
– All the extra charges involved.
– Filling in Her enormous application form online and then printing it off to post it, instead of printing the form off and completing it by hand (something the system, bizarrely, allows you to do and apparently one of the most common reason for failure)
– Although the financial sponsorship form they’d neglected to tell us about the first time, I did have to print that one off and fill it in by hand. (as opposed to the simple covering letter from me, detailing my “intentions” and willingness to financially support them that we’d originally been told to include with my payslips)

And then there was the bank.

Since the relief at being given the money for the plane tickets by my aunt, we had ceased to worry about any immediate financial problems and had been concentrating on the fiendish labyrinth of the application process itself.
So it was initially a puzzling and potentially thrilling discovery that I suddenly had £945 in my account that wasn’t there two days before.
Then I got a nasty sinking feeling in my stomach and did a quick calculation. Minus transfer fees, that sounded unpleasantly like the $1500 I’d finally managed to send to Her bank in the States after a soul-destroying three hours on the phone the previous weekend.
A quick call established that Her bank had indeed bounced back the payment, reason unknown.
Unknown that is, until the international transfer officer I was venting my ire at on the phone the next day read back the account number he’d transferred it to.
He’d written it down wrong.
{…Breathe slowly and deeply, remain calm…}
I went through all the numbers with him again, in slow motion for the hard of thinking, he apologised for the fifth time and promised to refund my transfer fee.
I thanked him through gritted teeth and hung up, dearly hoping to never have the need to call another bank as long as I lived.

Then there were the bank statements. I needed six months worth, to cover the matching period of the payslips.
The fake-tanned and rather superior lady in my bank tutted and rolled her eyes as I told her how important this was and related some of our misfortunes with officialdom while we stood and watched the printer spew out my statements. She said;
“All that incompetence, is there some sort of complaints procedure you could follow?”
I told her I just wanted to get it over with, asked her to put an official bank stamp on the copies, thanked her and went home to post my second batch of transatlantic paperwork.

I just thought I’d check everything one final time before sealing it in the envelope and to my horror (I’d nearly posted this!) found that of the six months of statements I’d asked for, I had in fact got three.

Ten minutes later.
I walk up to the same supercilious, slightly orange woman, place the papers carefully on the counter and say;
“Remember me telling you how important this was?”
“Of course”
“There’s three months missing”
“Oh I don’t think you’ll find there is” {condescending smile}
…………..
“Oh I’m sorry, there do seem to be some missing”
I couldn’t resist;
“Is there some sort of complaints procedure I could follow?”
Apparently this wasn’t funny.
We didn’t chat while we waited this time.

I then took what I fervently hoped was the last package I’d have to send priority air mall (£52 for a 250g envelope!) to the Post Office and watched a trainee shop assistant spend fifteen minutes asking his supervisor what to do every thirty seconds while he filled in the label.
So I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when I got a phone call from the international sorting office the following afternoon, asking if I was “trying to post something aboard”.
You probably won’t be amazed to discover that the trainee hadn’t filled the label in properly and I had to ring Her and get various additional recipient details from Her before they would post it.

All through this ordeal by stationery She remained calm and positive, grumbling occasionally about “English bureaucracy”, but otherwise She just ploughed through the red tape and helped keep me sane in the process.

With any luck, there wouldn’t be too many more things they could do to make our lives difficult.

Wait, did I really just say that..?

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About trueromantic/dalecooper57

Blogger, writer, animator, photographer, maker of strange electronic "music", there's no end to the things that I'm getting quite good at.

2 responses »

  1. The mindless bureaucracy and red tape causing continuous delays is unbelievable and inexcusable. You must be at your wit’s end with all the needless delays and never-ending paperwork. Just terrible that she has to do the paperwork all over again. Hang in there, it will happen, you two will be together despite it all! You have my empathy and fingers crossed for you!

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