Thursday, November 7, 2013

Getting A Visa

I don't mean a credit card.

In order for our family to move to the UK for an extended period of time, we all need Visas.  Simply put, a Visa is an addition to your passport that gives you permission to stay in a specific country for an extended amount of time.  

There are several types of Visas that depend upon the reason for your extended stay.  Typically the reason is for work purposes.  There is also a type of visa for people who throw all caution to the wind and say, "Hey, I have a crazy idea.  Let's move to a foreign country and see if we can find a job when we get there." We have learned that the latter is no longer an option for people.  

Matt's work had to sponsor him before we could apply for our Visas.  Then Matt's work began.  He used the UK Border Agency's website to fill out the applications.  He had to submit a separate application for each family member.  The application process included answering questions about our background & history.  Additionally we had to submit many months of bank statements to prove that we have a certain amount of liquid money so that we would not become a drain on the UK welfare system.  

As he paid $800 for each Visa and printed the application, he also scheduled a Biometrics (fingerprinting) appointment for three of us.  Thankfully Youngest Kiddo was not required due to his age.  At the time Matt filled out the applications was an interesting time for our US government.  The different parties were arguing about stupid things and threatened to shut the government down on the upcoming Tuesday.  The biometrics needed to be completed by our government before sending our papers into the UK Consulate in NYC.  If the government shut down, we'd have no chance to get fingerprinted.

After each application was printed Matt could choose the date for biometrics.  He had plenty of times to choose on Monday.  He had plenty of times to choose a time on Monday for me.  By the time he finished Oldest Kiddo's application, the biometrics day changed to Thursday.

That would be Thursday, as in two days after the government shut down.  That's just one more bump in the path of our transition to the UK.

We decided to take a risk on Monday and take her with us.  We drove out to the western suburbs to an unassuming strip mall to the U.S. Immigration & Citizenship Services (USICS) office.  No surprise that pictures were not allowed inside, but if you've ever been to the DMV it's not much different.

I was going to be apologetic to the person at the desk and give the story about how we had appointments today and Youngest Kiddo was not 'til Thursday.  Was there any way they could help us out and see her today?  I think we brought the total number of people in the place to ten, so they weren't busy.

Matt told me to not say a word and play dumb.  He handed the person at the desk all three of our papers and she happily scanned them and gave us a number.  Fantastic!  The fingerprinting was painless and quick.

No government shut down can stop us.  

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