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Applying for a UK Visa: A Drama

Yesterday I had to go to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) center for my UK Visa application. Unlike most of visa applications, I did not have to go to Los Angeles for taking my photo and fingeprints. I think that’s because UK embassy cooperates with USCIS as their Application Support Center (ASC) so that people who wish to apply for a UK Visa can do the biometrics in their town without having to travel for that. This is actually cost-saving a.k.a more economical in terms of time and money (and energy). Imagine if I have to spend a lot going to LA for a visa application but then my application was rejected? That would be too hard-breaking. Thus, I was really happy when I found out that I could apply for the visa and do all the stuff from Tucson.

But maybe I have to give you a background story. UK is one of favorite countries after Japan and Canada. The reason being is, I don’t know, I think it’s fascinating. The fact that they still have this thing about being royal is kinda intriguing. I remember reading many novels telling about different ranks of royalty in UK. Earls, Barons, Dukes, Viscounts, etc. Back then I could not quite understand it, I only managed to figure out which title is higher and which is lower. Then when I went to college, some people talked about how Oxford was one of the best universities in the world, and I found that Oxford was in UK and so I wanted to give it a visit. Then I came to see beautiful pics of the towns, buildings, landscapes, etc. in UK, and so I come to favor this country (despite the Brexit 😁🙈✌) and thus I made a wish to visit it someday.

That someday might be this year. I want it to be this year. The reason being is that I still have some Indonesian friends who are studying there and thus I can in their place and explore UK with them. If I don’t go this year, I might have to travel really solo next year(s). Though I don’t really mind traveling solo, I still prefer having a friend or two to travel with. Just look at how I have traveled so far. I might have traveled alone, but usually I had someone or a friend or a friend of my friend’s in my destination to guide me. So yes, I don’t like traveling with a big pack but I don’t really like traveling alone either. No one to talk to. I will feel scared and anxious if I have to travel alone among the strangers. It will be less fun for me. (Maybe that’s the reason I admire those solo travelers^^).

When I was waiting to transfer to Bus 11.

At first, I was not sure when to go and for how long, maybe right after this Spring semester ends? But there is also a conference that I’ll go to in May. There’s also the month of Ramadhan, the holy month for the Muslims. I was contemplating between going while Ramadhan or going after Ramadhan. My confusion was, I wasn’t sure if I would be okay traveling during Ramadhan. I’m not that religious person and I don’t want to give you that impression, and this might actually sound lame, but I really want to do a lot of prayers during Ramadhan, for example: reading Quran as much as possible. I knew I should be able to do them even when it’s not Ramadhan but Ramadhan simply makes it different. Besides, if I travel during Ramadhan, I’ll have to fast. I won’t be okay to not fast and fast in the other days just because I’m traveling, but again, if I’m fasting I might not have the strength to walk far or experience the local food any time I want, so this also concerns me. But I really had to decide on the dates so I could buy the tickets and apply for the visa. Well, the problem is, I can’t apply any earlier than 3 months before the departure. That being said, if I want to travel on June 1st, the fastest I can submit my visa application is March 1st. And, well, they didn’t require me to provide a flight ticket, though. But I was worried that if I didn’t buy the tickets first, they wouldn’t grant me a visa. Well, I could actually try to get dummy tickets. You know, the fake ones. Something like, you bought the tickets, you got the e-tickets, then you cancelled it within 24 hours to get a refund but still used the e-ticket you had received earlier for visa application, but I was afraid they would find out and reject my visa application. Damn, being an Indonesian passport holder is such a pain in the ass!

Finally, after a lot of contemplating, I decided on the dates and bought the tickets. I bought the non-refundable because it was the cheapest. So if I didn’t get this visa, my money would be gone. But, well, I tried to reason and hope that I’d get the visa though I’m still worried. I don’t know sometimes I can’t help it. Like, many hate or are scared of Muslims they won’t let them into their country. And I’m a Muslim, right? What if they think I’m dangerous and thus won’t grant me a visa? Well, my friend says as long as I can show I have the money to support myself and that I have a good reason to go back to the states or leaving UK, then there should be no problems getting the visa because one of their concerns is that they worry that people going to UK will not leave and become illegal immigrant. Well, hopefully it’s like that. I’ve been saving. Though I plan to stay at my friends’ places, I do have the money. And I do have a good reason to leave because I have to come back to the states for my study. I hope the embassy really sees this and give me multiple-entry visa. I need a multiple-entry visa because I plan to go to Europe too from UK. So from UK, I’ll go to Europe, then back to UK to catch my flight back to US.

Inside the bus.

During the online aplication process, I was hesitating whether or not I have to tell them that. But at the end I decided to just leave out that info because, again, I’m worried they won’t give me the visa because, well, I haven’t got the schengen visa. I haven’t applied either. So it would depend. If I get a single-entry UK Visa, then I can’t or won’t go to Europe this year. *Sigh But if I get a multiple-entry UK Visa then my chance to get schengen visa will be bigger and I might be able to visit both UK and Europe this year 😍😍😍 But if my UK Visa application is rejected, then I’ll just have to suck it up and travel within the states instead 😔😔😔 Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t want to travel in the states. I would love to travel to the remaining states I haven’t been to but I plan to do it at other times; my priority this summer break is going to UK and Europe. I’m a girl with plans, alright? But let’s pray that I’ll get a multiple-entry UK Visa. Aamiin 🙏🙏🙏

So, well, after I submitted my application online, I had to make an appointment to get my photo and fingerprints taken. When I found I could do it in Tucson, I was really happy. And I was happier when I could go there by bus. Well, I don’t have a car and taking a taxi, Uber/Lyft will be more expensive so bus is my favorite mode of transportation in Tucson 😍 Indeed, I was glad that they had opening on Monday, so I could opt to go after my Japanese class 😊

Well, my journey was not that smooth really. To get to the ASC from campus took 1hour-ish by bus and I had to transfer bus as well. So, first, I had to ride bus 4 on Speedway. Then I got off on Alvernon/Speedway to transfer to bus 11. Alas, the wait for the transfer was so long. And even though it was still spring, Tucson was so damn hot! And there were people on the bus stop already. So I didn’t get to sit under the shaded waiting seats. And you know what’s upsetting? It turned out that these people were not actually waiting for the bus! (I want to curse and swear here 😭😭😭). And, when bus 11 arrived, it wasn’t the bus 11 that went to where I was going to. So there were two kinds of bus 11. One that was heading to the airport and one that was not. Apparently I forgot to check and got on the wrong bus. First, I tapped my card and told the driver that I wanted to be dropped off on Palo Verde and Michigan. He said ok and so I went to the back seat. But then he called me saying that he wasn’t going there, the next bus 11 would. It’s funny. I remember there was this lady trying to help him to explain to me. Maybe she thought I didn’t really understand English 🙈😅 But, well, I appreciated the good gesture and so I thanked them and got off and waited for the next bus 11. Then I remembered that I have tapped my card. That means I have to pay for my next ride because the transfer service was already used. *Sigh But well, money was not my concern; I just wanted to get there on time.

Thus, I managed to take the right bus and arrive 45 minuted before the scheduled appointment. But damn, from the bus stop, I still had to take a detour to cross in the crosswalk. Had it been in Indonesia, I would’ve just jaywalked 🙊🙈😅✌✌✌ I mean, the building was right across where I got off! And not many cars were passing either and it was so hot and I was hungry 😭😭😭 Ok, enough with the excuses. Now you know I’m not that good of a citizen. Sorry. *Sigh But I didn’t jaywalk. I did take the detour to cross on the crosswalk.

When I arrived in the center, a lady was occupying the machine. I thought it was to get a queuing number or something like that. I thought I should follow the procedure and so I waited for the lady so I could use the machine. But guess what? It was to make an appointment. I had already had an appointment! Gosh, I waited for nothing. Then I went in through the security. No big deal. And the security told me which way I should go. And even though it was not my time yet – because there was only one person before me – they just took my pic and fingerprints. But damn, it seemed that the officer wasn’t really a UK official officer. He asked me which paper with signature I should show him!!! He said he was just an intern and he didn’t actually work for the government. He asked if he could take a copy of my doc to sent it to his boss! And when he took my pic, he didn’t tell me so I wasn’t ready. He said I may not smile, it should be a neutral/normal expression. Gosh, I don’t want my visa photo to be ugly 😭😭😭
Then, there was this document checklist, right? The instruction says I have to provide both original documents and one copy of each. Well, I had no problem with passport and ID, but I wonder about my bank statement, proof of travel insurance, and my electricity bill as proof of my residence. I mean, most of them are e-files, so the originals are electronic, how am I supposed to provide the originals then? Should I make two copies? Like, print them twice? Or just print them in colors? Gosh, it’s frustrating, and I don’t have printer with colored inks. And I didn’t want to waste any more money on it. I would love to ask the officials about it, but you know what? They charge every email, so if I send them an email/a query through email, I should pay in advance! How crazy is that? Gosh, I’m getting emotional right now. Mad and scared at the same time to be exact. Mad for that craziness. Worried that they’ll read this post and reject my visa application 🙈😭 But, well, I finally decided to print two copies, all black-and-white. I don’t care. I’m just gonna pray n hope that they’ll be okay with that. *Sigh Then, there is this “official use only” think on the document checklist, right? I asked the officer if he was sure he didn’t have to sign it for me. But, nope, he didn’t sign it. He said that he wasn’t authorized to do that. He just told me to leave after stamping my biometric page receipt, saying that I was all set. I don’t know. I was mad and worried, but what could I do? Do you think I am worrying too much? But I really want this visa 😭😭😭 I really want to go to UK – and Europe 😭😭😭

One of the views when I was walking back home.

But anyway, I left, waited AGAIN for the bus. It took a while. *Sigh I really wished I had Festus (that’s my motorbike at home ❤) with me. I took the bus and I had to transfer to another bus, right? I had to post it soon. That’s because I only had 5 days to post it. And I want it to be over asap. I chose USPS because it’s cheaper than the carrier that the embassy partners with. Imagine, for the return package delivery that I had to purchase from them, it cost me $41!!! And that’s the only option. So I browsed, at least I have some options to deliver it to the embassy and I found that USPS is cheaper, it was only about $24ish. Well, of course I chose USPS.

Hence, I head straight to USPS office. But I had to transfer to bus 4, right? I was contemplating between going shopping first or going straight there. That’s because I was running out of halal meat, and the halal meat store was near where I should transfer the bus. I thought maybe I could also shop while waiting for the next bus so I didn’t have to spend more money for the bus fare later. I forgot to ask the driver to issue a transfer into my bus card anyway 😐 But then I was too tired and so I decided to go straight to USPS and then home. That way I didn’t have to carry heavy shopping bags as well.

Then, I got off bus 11, and crossed the road to get to the other bus stop for bus 4. Bus 4 came when I was still crossing. So I ran because I didn’t to miss it. It would be too bothersome if I had to wait for the next bus. You know wasting time really gets on my nerves, right? I still had a lot to do! But guess what? The lady who just got off bus 4 from the backside must have seen me running that she walked/ran fast to the front to tell the driver to wait for me. How sweet and nice 😍😭❤ I thanked her again and again 😍😭❤

Then, in the bus, a lady complimented my attire. She said that my purple batik was a good match with my pink/grey hanbag. Gosh, she had no idea that I bought it in Goodwill 🙈🙈🙈 But even earlier somebody else complimented my beautiful batik 😍 It’s not that I’m crazy for such compliments, but it makes me happy that people appreciate it 😊✌

Then the bad thing happened. I was supposed to get off in Plumer/Speedway, but I guess I pulled the rope/signed the driver too late that she didn’t stop there. So I had to get off at the next stop, which meant a longer distance to walk to USPS 😭😭😭 I was really mad at that time. Why didn’t she stop? Why didn’t I pull the rope much earlier?! 😭😭😭 It’s so hot, and I was hungry, and it took more time walking there. I was so upset I felt like dying 😭😭😭

But, well, there were not so many people in USPS so it didn’t take long for me to queue. When I told the lady that I wanted the documents to be delivered by tomorrow (Tuesday), she told me that it would cost $40ish 😱😱😱 She then told me that there was a cheaper option but arrived on Wednesday. It was $14ish with the envelope. So of course I chose that one. It was even cheaper than what I browsed. I was really happy. And it’s actually strange. Not many people do it in my country. When you choose something, they would usually tell you it is not available and instead offer you the more expensive stuff. Well, not all, but on average, at least from my experience, it’s like that. That’s why I’m happy that people here prioritize customer satisfaction. They really care about the customers, and not only about making money 🙂

And so, that’s the story. Because afterwards I just went straight back to my apt. But I really hope I’ll get a multiple-entry UK Visa so I can proceed with my Schengen visa application. Pray for me, please 🙏🙇🙏🙇🙏

Updates:

    1. Thursday, 3.28 am MST, I was worrying all day yesterday. I kept checking USPS for the tracking number even though I had signed up so that they would notify me when the package has arrived at the UK embassy. But until I fell asleep last night, there was no notification; i.e. the packaged has not been delivered. Gosh, it was supposed to arrive on Wednesday by 8pm! Then when I woke up this morning, I saw my phone and there was one message from USPS. When I first saw it I was so happy thinking it must have been delivered. But I was wrong. It says that it will be delivered today by 8pm. Gosh, if it isn’t delivered today, I’ll be very mad, I’ll be doomed. I’m so disappointed with USPS, but what can I do? I have no right to complain because I did choose it because it was cheaper 🙁
    2. Saturday, April 14, 2018 7.17am. No news from the embassy. I’ve read some reviews about people’s experiences applying for a UK Visa in the states. Mostly they say it’s slow, and that we won’t get any news and that on average it will take about 15 days as explained in the web, so don’t bother spending more money contacting the embassy. So I guess I’ll just have to patiently wait. *Sigh
    3. Still Saturday, but I checked my email and found that I received a notification from the UK embassy that they have received my documents and that my visa application is still processed and assesed. The time of the email was 2.56pm. And they said that I should check my mails often in case they contact me for more info or additional ducuments considered necessary. They’d also notify me once the decision is made, and that tje process should approximately take around 15 days, more or less. Well, I’m no longer surprised. I’ve read the reviews. I just found it a bit incredible that they email me on the weekend instead of weekdays. I mean, it’s freaking Saturday! 🙈🙈😅✌️ But anyway, please pray for me so I get multiple-entry visa. Aamiin 🙇🙏🙇
    4. Sunday, April 29, 2018 9.35pm MST. Still no news. I’ve been dreading, stressed out-and pissed. I kept checking my mails in case there was a notification from the embassy. None. I kept looking at the calendar. It’s been 20 days from the day I have the biometrics appointment, 17 days from the day my documents were delivered, 15 days from the day I received the notification that the embassy has received my documents. How more worried could I be? The problem is, I need my passport to apply for Japanese visa since I’m leaving at the end of next May. I even thought that maybe they needed me to contact/email them so that they would receive more money from me. Ha! So awful! But, well, ok, it’s not 15 business/working days yet, so I’ll wait a little more. I reread the reviews on UK Embassy/Consular on YELP again, just to find more people furious about the same thing. Well, I know I’m not alone but it’s still infuriating me. But, no, I’m not going to spend another penny. I WILL WAIT! T_T But, well, if the 15 days were counted from the day I had my fingerprint and photo taken, then I should get the email notification tomorrow or the day after. Otherwise, maybe I should just wait ’till the end of next Friday. Sigh. Well, this is the most inconvenient service I have ever experienced in the states. And it’s not US service, but UK. Well, well. If there is still no news by this weekend, well, maybe I should start making a blacklist of countries to visit… So ironical, to think that this is one of my top-3 favorite countries.
    5. Tuesday, May 1, 2018. 10.41am. OMG. OMG. OMG. After countlessly checking my email, I finally received the good news! I got the email from UK embassy saying my visa application was successful and that my visa has been printed! The email was dated today, and received at 9.38am MST.😍❤️😍 That being said, I could expect to receive my passport back tomorrow, i.e. I could straightly send my visa application to Japanese embassy afterwards 😭 It feels as if I’ve never felt this relieved in my life 😭😭😭 So that’s how it is. The reviews are right. It’s terrible that I had to wait this long-to be passportless this long, but well, they’ve clearly stated it on their web, so basically they’re just testing our patience 🙈😅✌️ Well, I’ll let u know once I receive my documents tomorrow 😁
    6. Wednesday, May 2, 2018. As expected, it finally arrived today, probably around 9.30 in the morning. I got the 6-month multi-entry visa! Yay! 😘❤️ BUT, you know what? They return all documents. I mean ALL, not only the originals but also the copies. My, but why? They didn’t even thick and sign the official-use part on the forms! Did they even check it? I mean, what a waste of paper, right? I’m not going to act environmentally-friendly here, I’m not holy here. But let’s admit it, printing is not cheap, and I do love my money, I’d rather save it. I mean, so why do they want me to send them the documents and copies if they are not going to use or keep the copy? Besides, they could actually get us to submit everything online. We’d better go paperless, right? Jeez, people are really unbelievable 😌🤗 And u know what else? They did not use the return envelope that I provide for them. They just cut off the label from my envelope and attached it to their own envelope/package. Gosh, they should’ve been more clear on that. I mean, I bought the return envelope for $1.89! What a waste of money, right? Gosh, now maybe you hate me for loving money so much. But hey, I really don’t like wasting my money. I know how it felt to have no money so I’d love my money to be spent usefully. Well, anyway, I’m happy that I finally got my multi-entry UK Visa. Thanks, embassy! 😊❤️😊

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