I love to travel, and look forward to a future where that is all I do. In the past ten years I have been to Italy (twice), France (twice), England (twice), Australia (three times), Germany, Switzerland and Bali. This year, Dave and I are jetting of to Scotland. This is the first time we have had to apply for a Visa for the UK, and the process leaves me wondering two things:
- does the United Kingdom want tourists?
- how do I get an EU passport?
First, I had to complete the application forms on line – one for Dave and one for me. The questions asked included where our parents were born and details of David’s children. We had to provide detailed information where we had traveled to in the past 10 years as well as providing detailed information about ourselves. Once the forms were completed we had to print them and then pay R998 each via credit card online for the application. Then we had to make an appointment – I thought I was lucky that three days after I made Dave’s appointment, I could get one at the same time. Little did I know what the word ‘appointment’ meant.
I then had to collate documents for both of our visa application forms, including 6 months bank statements, a letter from our employer (read self) saying we are coming back to work, and our marriage certificate – the same piece of paper needed in duplicate – one for Dave and one for me. We had to provide the usual proof of ticket, accommodation and residence. If you rent, be advised they will need a copy of your lease agreement. Further they needed proof of funds to support ourselves while there. Where I can understand them needing all of this, what I cannot understand is why they need one copy for Dave’s application and one for mine. When we go to Europe we apply on separate forms, but together so they only need one set of each piece of paper.
We are told to arrive 15 minutes before our appointment with the official confirmation printed out. And, we do as we are told – but we are early. And no, you cannot go in before the time! Thankfully there was a coffee shop right there. Then, you wait in a line to gain entrance to the building. And you are asked:
- why are you here?
- what time is your appointment?
- your full name please
- and your phone number
all while your photo is taken. And, we were each put through this process. By the time we got through the queue of people all there for the 11am time slot, I was quite exasperated. Now, wait for Dave and then the lift and then another queue. People waiting to get into VFS’s offices. And we start again with the questions:
- are you here to apply for a visa?
- is it for yourself?
- is this your passport?
- and your photo?
- why are you here? (I kid you not)
now, please turn off your phone and get scanned and let me peer into your bag before we let you into the office.
Now we take a number – I wait for Dave again and thankfully we are allowed to have the same number! We get number 53 and they are on number 39 when we walk in. Some young kid who probably would not get a visa were he being seen by the British High Commission is fumbling his way through his appointment. Then, another gentleman admits to not actually having a residential address – but the VFS staff member is not a decision maker, he is just a form collator.
Eventually we get called. And the young man shows Dave his passport:
- is this your passport?
- what is your name in full?
- what is your date of birth?
he then writes down (ie copies) your name (he got mine wrong) and your ID number plus ticks off what documents you are giving him. And writes down any additional documents. My questions include when was my photograph taken as since it was taken I have grown my hair a few centimeters. He then changes the date of when the document was signed to the day we were there and gets us to counter sign. Then our passports, forms and documents go into one envelope and we get told:
- if you would like to be notified of where your visa is in the system it will cost you R20
- and if you would like your passport couriered back to you the cost is R150
EACH! So, one envelope, two charges. Thankfully I know from using VFS for my Australian visa (the first two) I can use their on line tracking system – no need to spend R40. And even though the return trip is 130km and the parking will cost me R8 I would rather fetch my passport – even knowing I will have to go through the same tedious questions and pick a number and wait AGAIN!
But, we are not yet done. Back into the queue for the biometric data collection. Finger prints, thumb prints and eyes scanned. Finally it is 12h10 and we are leaving Cape Town.
I used the tracking system to follow our passport from the VFS office in Cape Town to the British Consul in Pretoria and back – the entire process took 3 days. I wonder how closely our forms were scrutinized? Then, the Monday after our appointment, Dave went to collect our passports – we were granted a Visa and all our supporting documents were returned.
On days like this, when my patience is being tested, I prefer to put a roast into the oven. The meat can do its own thing, while I unwind and relax, with a glass of wine.
- 1 pork belly roast
- 10mls salt
- 5mls coriander seeds
- Oil for rubbing
- Baby potatoes, cut in half
- 15mls white wine
- Pat dry the pork and place on a wire rack for one hour to allow the meat to come up to room temperature
- Grind the salt and coriander in a mortar and pestle
- Rub some oil onto the pork
- Rub in the seasoning
- Preheat the oven to 160° Celsius
- Cut as many potatoes as you need to cover the bottom of your roasting dish
- Place the pork on top of the potatoes
- Add the wine and cook for 90 minutes
- Allow to rest before carving
Click on the links for conversions and notes.