Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Visa Conundrum

Something told me to set aside a chunk of time to fill out the visa application. With a bonus day off yesterday, I made a point to save an hour to get down to business. Little did I know that was not enough time. Just reading the instructions took nearly 20 minutes. Blue or black ink, no staples, no paper clips, put this in question 13, put this in question 47. Geesh.

Color me paranoid, but I really want to complete this correctly and accurately, so as to avoid any screw up in the process and having to pay another $199 to do this again. Plus both (yes there are two) sets of instructions tell the applicant to be complete and truthful. So of course the OCD in me is reading far too much into questions and wondering if I'm interpreting too much into what I am sure are very straight-forward queries.

However, a bit unsettling are a few of the questions, such as:
Do you have any specialized skills, training or experience related to fire-arms and explosives or to nuclear matters, biological or chemical substance?

Have you ever been afflicted with a communicable disease of public health significance or a dangerous physical or mental disorder? Have you ever been a drug abuser or a addict?

Ahem. Ok, so, moving on...

I am a bit stuck though, on two questions. The first asks that the applicant list every country visited in the last 10 years and the dates of those visits. First of all, for those who know me, this list is long. It also won't fit in the 50 little boxes they expect you to write one letter per box in. But the instructions don't say anything about attachments for information you can't cram into 50 boxes (indeed, attachments seem to be discouraged, what with no staples or paper clips allowed!). How can I be that truthful in 50 boxes? I have probably about a dozen countries to list. And do they want to know if I just stopped over and changed planes (which is what my passport would show) or if I stayed for a visit? Should the list match my passport, which won't always show the country of my final destination because you get stamped at the first place you enter Europe, not the place you necessarily end up. See, OCD is not always good.

The other question that may require an addendum is "List all educational institutions you ever attended, except high schools". Oh good lord. I collect higher education experiences like I collect passport stamps. The form has room for two. I have a need to list four. What do I do?

Part of me is concerned that if I get caught not fully disclosing, that will just cause me problems. Another part of me (the saner, but smaller part) says just fill in what you can and call it a day.

Instead, I'll be calling the Visa agency to ask these pressing questions and more, I'm sure. They'll earn their money with me.

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