The nightmare begins again – Visa woes

I cannot believe that its time to do it again already. Time to make several trips to several government offices, stand in never moving queues for hours at an end and stare at government officials who give you ‘I can kill you NOW’ looks. Definitely an experience I am not looking forward to.

It was only 12 months back that we  had gone through the horrible process of getting our cars registered. Despite most documents being provided by the car dealerships, we still had to do a lot of running around in order to get our ‘traffic registration numbers’. And all because I didn’t (and still don’t) have a work permit and hence, I was a non-entity in South Africa (still am). So much so that I cannot open a bank account, cannot rent  a house in my name, cannot have a land line registered to me or even get a damn cable connection. In other words, I have no right to own anything even if I can afford it.

Since we are less than a year away from the expiration of our visas now, my husband needs to apply for his long-term work permit. Which would entail me getting one too. So now we need to get through the paperwork a second time. The same had been done before we left India. But some regulations changed and we were informed that the long term permit would be applied for later.

We spent the entire evening filling out forms, sifting through files, collecting several sets of photographs, making copies of our passports for the nth time and of course, looking for the birth certificates. I had a mini heart attack because I couldn’t remember if I had mine here in SA! Eventually I found it. Phew. I cannot even imagine the horror of obtaining one here.

With the forms in place, it was time to get other documents ready. The first thing we would need is a certified medical report to show we won’t be a drain on the country’s resources, along with a chest x-ray, and the second is a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) to prove we haven’t added to the spiralling crime in the city (the very thought of dealing with government agencies has made me so cynical, sigh).

So nice and early we headed out to the nearest hospital to make sure we are hale and hearty. After an hour and a half, we left with the medical report but without the x-rays as that would take another half an hour and I decided to collect it later. Oh and not to forget, that I was diagnosed with a high blood pressure – I wonder how!

Next up was the visit to the local police station. I have had to skip that for now as I hadn’t thought that the hospital would take so long and I was expecting someone at home. So only my husband went to the station to get himself finger printed. That was rather quick fortunately but he was handed a stamped document that needs to be submitted in Pretoria (45 minutes drive from Joburg). Apparently, once the documents are submitted, the PCC will take around 3-4 weeks. So until then, we will just need to wait as we cannot submit the main work permit application without this clearance.

What I have conveniently forgotten to mention is that in order to apply for a long term work permit, my husband’s firm had to get a waiver from the home office (kind of like a no objection certificate) and it took 8 MONTHS for it to finally come through. So for anyone applying for work here, please bear in mind – it is a long process and not many organisations are keen to wait that long for someone to start work (unless you are on a short-term temporary visa)! The bane of my ‘unemployed’ life.

Coming back to the current process in hand, once we procure all relevant documents and make the submission to the home office, I wonder how long it will take to get the visas. Whilst I love the country and have thoroughly enjoyed living here thus far, the corruption, bureaucracy and above all, the callous attitude of officials make it really difficult to stay on.



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