I am in visa hell once again.
I'm sure I don't need to summarise all my travel disasters for you again, but if you want a refresher course, all my travel-related posts are listed under Travel Traumas on the right of this page.
Anyway. This time I have just discovered I can't go on our planned trip to Germany in July. We've been planning two holidays this year - one to Spain in August, which will be our longest and most expensive trip, and then a shorter 5 day trip to Germany in July to attend the Full Moon Festival - possibly the best trance party on the planet. Most of you are by now aware of my love for trance parties, and this one is so big, so major, that last year's trip to Portugal just pales in comparison. We first started talking about going a month or so ago, and we planned to book our flights in May.
But guess what, once again I will have to pull out in yet another bad episode of deja vu, while everyone else gets ready for the party of a lifetime. Why? This is all a snowball effect of losing my passport. I came back into the UK with a full passport, but you might remember from this post that I still needed to get my UK visa re-issued once over here. As I am South African and our passports are equivalent in value to the Zim Dollar, I need a visa everytime I want to visit a different country. I have yet to apply for my UK visa re-issue, as I am travelling up to Scotland with my company this weekend and I need my passport to do so (Scotland is part of Great Britain and my UK visa allows me free access to all GB territories, so I therefore do not need to show proof of a visa when travelling to those places - I just need my passport for identification purposes).
So my plan was to come back from Scotland and straight away post off my application, and have my passport complete with UK visa back by end of June at the latest. I would then apply for my German Schengen visa 2 weeks before our trip. Today I started filling out all the application forms and checking that I have all the necessary documents. Then I saw this on the front page of the German Embassy website: You must have a passport with one blank page and residence permit for the UK, both valid for at least three months longer than the expiry date of the visa.
This is a problem, as my UK visa runs out in August this year. Which means that if I tried to apply for a Schengen visa using my UK re-issue visa as proof of my right to be here, they will deny my request based on the fact that at the time of application, I would have less then three months left on that visa.
So the logical solution is to renew my UK visa, right? After all, I am eligible to stay here - in fact, my next visa will give me indefinite leave to remain aka permanent residence, which means I will never again have to apply to stay in the UK until the day I decide to apply for citizenship, if we get that far. My current visa expires on 10 August. But the British Home Office, being the most fastidious of Immigration Authorities, has rules in place that only let you apply for a new settlement visa a maximum of 28 days before the expiration date of your current one. In other words, the earliest I can apply for my new UK visa is 14 July. We are supposed to fly on 16 July. I was planning on paying for the Same Day Service for my UK visa anyway, which costs £500 but has the advantage of being ready almost instantly. So I'd have that in place. But I would then have one day to organise a Schengen visa, and usually Schengens take between 2 and 7 days. Even if they told me it was possible to get it on the same day, unless it was a guaranteed thing - which it never is - I couldn't afford to spend all that money booking flights and whatnot, only to have my visa delayed and not be able to go.
So there you have it - for the third time in less than a year, I am facing missing out on a trip that I desperately want to make, while everyone else will probably go ahead without me anyway. I don't say that with bitterness, because hey, I'm a realist and past experience has told me that at the end of the day, people will do whatever they want to do and whatever makes them happy, and unless you're terminally ill or about to die and they are guilted into staying behind, they're going - end of story. The exception this time is Shoes. Last time with Turkey, I was big enough to let him go. I then proceeded to have a complete meltdown when he was gone, as how was I to really know how crap it was going to be to get left behind? This time I was prepared to put my foot down and start World War III over it if I had to, but it turns out I needn't have worried. He's not going without me. Ok, so I did have to ask him - he didn't offer - and there's was an infitesmal pause before he said no, and he certainly didn't sound very happy about it. But I think he realised I was stretched to breaking point last time... in fact, that I am still a bit fragile from all this drama, and my first instinct when I made this fabulous discovery today was to burst into tears. I probably would have; in fact, I VERY nearly did when I was speaking to Shoes on the phone, but I'm at work and I really don't dig crying in front of colleagues, so I managed to hold it in.
I'm just really disappointed. It's beyond ridiculous now, wouldn't you agree? Ok so it happened once, fine. And then it nearly happened again, and despite the fact that I eventually ended up going to CT, that was the most traumatic time of all. So, hey, that's enough shit for one person to deal with in 6 months, right? But no, apparently not. Third time unlucky. I'm just wandering how many more times I'm going to have one of these posts to write. How many more times am I going to be "Poor Lopz", while everyone else feels bad for a couple of days and then gets over it and goes away on an awesome holiday? What the hell is the point of living in this shit hole if I can't travel, seriously.
If I was signing an anonymous letter to a magazine column right now, I'd sign it Gutted, Gatvol and Had Just About Enough. And please pass the brandy.
Monday, 31 March 2008
No More Drama - er, when?
I am in visa hell once again.