My big news this week (aside from looking for new client opportunities) is that Iâve hit a snag in my visa application to attend CISIS in China in a few weeks. I’ve registered for CISIS, booked a hotel, and set up meetings in Dalian. But the passport is taking more time than I allowed for.
The problem with getting a visa for China (which should only take 4 working days) is that I need 6 months remaining on my passport in order to go. I realised about a month ago that my American passport expires in four months. Zao Gao!
So, I had to
- Renew my American passport
- Transfer to indefinite leave to remain status for the UK to the new passport (an NTL)
- Get a visa for China.
The US passport agency said it should take about 3 weeks, since they had to send my passport application to the States. I got it back in just over two weeks.
The UK border agency didnât give an estimate, but I figured 3 weeks should be good enough for that. After all, I already have permanent residency, I just need the stamp in my new passport. They didnât need to send it anywhere. I sent it to them two and a half weeks ago.
Yesterday, I phoned the Border Agency office. I had a letter from them saying they had my passport and that I should NOT phone them to check on the status. But I was worried so I phoned anyway. After spending ages in a call queue, I got someone on the phone who did not want my reference number when I offered to give it. âWe donât check on the status of an NTL application until it has been with us for 14 weeks,â they guy told me. He obviously had to deal with a lot of difficult people and he wasnât going to give me any lee-way (read âhe was kind of rudeâ). I asked if there was any way to speed it up, he told me there wasnât. He would not check on the status. I told him it was a renewal, not a new applicationâbut he didnât help. He told me that the wait time is between 4 to 14 weeks. I was speechless. 4 weeks!?!? There is no way to make this happen before CISIS starts.
Yesterday was a flurry of activity cancelling things. The hotel was easy to cancel. The flight was non-refundable (but I might be able to get about half of my money back). The people at UK Trade and Investment are holding off on booking any more meetings with software companies. They even offered to help speed up the China visa if it helps. Still, there is the possibility that the passport might drop through the letter box and everything will be back on. Weâll see. Iâm not cancelling my flight just yet.
Iâm still going to Dalian. Iâm just not sure when. I might be be a few days later, or a few weeks.
Tomorrow, I get 4 shots for vaccination.
Iâm trying not to let it get me down too much. Iâm enjoying the beautiful sunshine (which can be rare in England) and re-establishing some old contacts. Iâm still playing with Ruby on Rails and trying to write a few applications which have been in my todo list for a while. I might as well enjoy the down time.