13 January 2008

The Trials and Tribulations of getting a visa

So the story starts back in November when I signed up for the program. Pete from South Africa said to me it takes 2 months to get a visa so I'd better start now. I looked at the website for South Africa House and they said 10 days. I thought Pete was making a fuss about nothing...how very wrong was I!!!

In order to get a visa you need to have a medical and a radiological report. When I went into the doctors I was told it would take 2 weeks and cost £40 for the 15min it would take to write, and the xray (taken at Newmarket) would cost £80 and take 7-10 days to arrive. I booked my appointment for the 12th December, giving them plenty of time to get things prepared. Unfortunately the doctor forgot to write my report, so I had to wait for him to write it, take it to the other surgery for typing up and then chase around to find a doctor (as my original Dr went home) to sign off. All of this was however pointless as my radiological report had not been written up anyway.

New appointment 17th Dec.

I took in all of the relavent documents (birth certificate, med + rad reports, passport, letters of intent, bank statments, airline tickets etc.) to the embassy for my appointment. My visa was denied as my radiology report was a fax, not the original. Also I was told that I needed a police report, which would take 40days to process!!

My mum, the police and the Newmarket hospital ran around to help me get all of the relevent information by the 21st December. I could not get a new appointment before 3rd Jan so I decided to Post my application. As I was heading into London to meet the Nookies I decided to post it by hand. I was not allowed so had to walk around the corner to the post office to send it special delivery all of 150m to the embassy!!

On the 8th Jan I was getting worried that I hadn't heard anything from the embassy so decided to phone. I finally managed to get through on 9th. My visa had been denied again as I needed to supply a £600 deposit (despite having already booked and given details of my return flight) to proove I could afford a return flight!(more like earn lots of interest on my money) they only accepted cash or bankers draft.

10th Jan. I raced into London with £600 cash (i was pooping myself on th trains) and handed it to the cashier who ensured me my visa would be ready for the 11th.

11th Jan. I arrive in London at 3pm to pick up my visa. Apparently it is not completed. I refused to leave without my visa. 2 hours later they handed my visa...YAY!!! I'm going to South Africa on Monday!!

The moral of this story...It takes 2 months, 4 trips to London, £600 and persistent hounding of the NHS if you want to go to South Africa for more than 3months!!

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