This has bee a long week. In September two of my children’s passports expired and Wendy’s was filled up. I was supposed to leave for the USA in may 2020 but because of COVID-19 I had to postpone out plans. Now that things are calming down I am revisiting those plans.
The USA has a policy that if you don’t have a valid passport you cannot return to the states. In May I had planned to return and get passport stuff taken care of in the states. Now I was left with only one choice, deal with the embassy.
Since COVID-19 hit they have not been open for regular duties. They only deal with emergency issues. They won’t answer a phone, email or any other means of communication besides what they deem appropriate. Finding what the was took a phone call to the US travel department. They finally gave me a web page to fill out a form to get an appointment.
I filled out the form and waited 10 days for them to tell me I had an appointment in three weeks on Feb. 11th. We went down, filled out the applications and took the pictures. When we got there we waited for an hour to get inside. When we finally talked to someone they informed us that the background on the photos was not “white enough” and that the application could not be done with a pen only the online prefilled application would be accepted. Despite the instructions on the application that it was OK to use a pen we went back home and filled out the applications and retook photos.
We went back and the paperwork was in order. The past two times I have gone to the embassy they have allowed me to pay then and there or pay when I pick up the passports. I have been having major trouble with banks and had to switch banks and do transfers from one bank to another. The transfer had not hit my account yet so I did not have the funds I needed at the moment. I explained my situation and the person informed me that they would keep my paperwork and I would need to come back and pay. They also informed me that it has never been the policy of the embassy to allow pick up on delivery. Despite them telling me that I did it the past two times I have had passports renewed. I told them sure, the transfer should hit tomorrow I can do that no problem. They kindly informed me that they would not be open on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. The earliest I could come back was Wednesday.
I was not happy. A whole week. I live 3 hours from the embassy and did not want go home just to come back in a week. We waited it out at my wife’s family’s place for the week. They told us to be there on Wednesday at 7:30am. When we got to the embassy we checked in and they said they had no appointment for us and we needed to fill out the form online. I kindly told the security officer that we were told to come back at that time and date. He said he would try and talk to the people but they really have no communication with them. After two hours of waiting I asked the guy again and he said he had not heard back. After another hour my wife talked to him and he basically said that he could not ask again because the rules state that they are not supposed to do that and he could get fired.
There were other people waiting in line as well and I started asking people when they went in to talk to them on our behalf because I couldn’t wait another 3-4 weeks to get an appointment. It was simple matter of payment and signing documents.
Finally, after four hours of waiting they called us. When we got inside we went to the window and the lady attending us got a phone and she said “this is a business call, I don’t want you to think that it is a personal call.” She then went on to laugh it up and complain to the person on the other line(she put it on speaker). It might have been business but the two people on the phone were obviously friends.
After five hours of waiting today we finally got everything taken care of. It took six days. At the end of the ordeal I asked what the entry requirements are for the USA with COVID-19. I asked if I was required to show proof of a negative test. He said “yes, I believe the USA requires that.” I asked how far in advance I could get the test. His reply was “I, I don’t know.” I asked where I could find that information. He said “I really don’t know, Travel.us.gov?”
This is the messed up world of government. I can’t imagine how anyone thinks government should have more control over anything.