Friday 29 June 2012

Renewing your Visa application

Anyone who has ever applied for a Visa to live, work and study abroad will know it's not a simple process and one that does not get easier even if you employ an agency to help you.

To apply to live in South Africa you need to complete endless forms, submit them and wait at the mercy of the South African Embassy just off Trafalgar Square in London.

It's not made any easier by the fact that they only answer questions in person so don't bother begging over the phone when you do eventually find their number and they answer. Take that as a sign of how things will be when you finally get your visa and move to South Africa.

An agency will email you, the spouse, with all the forms you need to complete, they will put pressure on you with deadlines, yet will fail to reply to your requests for how you actually complete these forms. They will not send you all the forms in one go, they keep finding things for you to certificate and submit.

Here's what you have to do and how.

Hubbies company will complete the following

THIS IS THE FIRST LIE, YOU (ME THE WIFE) ARE REQUIRED TO GET CERTIFIED COPIES OF EVERY DOCUMENT YOU OWN. Go to a police station for several hours, stand in line, get shouted at, ask for certification.

BI 1740 Form
Undertaking 19(2)(c)
Repatriation Guarantee
Company Registration

Hubby to complete

SECOND LIE, you are required to return to police station for more documents to be certified.

BI 1740 Form
Power of Attorney
Proof of funds
Marriage Certificate

For me to complete

ALL I HAVE TO DO IS SIGN, after I've amended the spelling of my name and changed the address

BI 1739 Form
Letter of Support

For hubby to complete on behalf of children

SOMEONE HELP ME, there is no custody order, this is the third time there father has had to sign after previous letters were lost (not by me) go to police station for further certifications.

BI 1739 Form
Birth Certificate
Custody Order
Consent from Father
Letter of Support
Medical Aid Cover in South Africa

Police clearance certificate. Hubby and Me

In the UK you need to complete a form, have passport photos, pay a fee, post it off, always request two copies as you'll need an original for when you renew your visa.

In South Africa you go to SAPS, ask for your finger prints to be taken, complete a form, pay a fee and either a) hand it back to the agency or b) take it somewhere and collect 3 weeks later.

Radiological Report (Chest Xrays - you must be free of TB) All of us

In the UK go to the Doctors, ask for a referral letter, take it with you to a private hospital, have forms completed, pay fee.

In South Africa

Make Doctors appointment to request an xray to be told to go to local hospital to Xray appointment, complete endless medical aid forms, even though you are paying cash, go home and come back another day with kids passport. Get form completed and have fun with your chest xrays when you get home. get charged for visit to Doctors.

Medical Report. All of us

In the UK, dash round on a sunday evening with a bottle of Whisky and forms to the Doctors house, beg they complete and stamp forms and bribe with whisky. We somehow managed to discover this form the night before we were due to submit application.

In South Africa, make Doctors appointment, be asked a few questions and get informed that in some African countries they need clarification if you are an imbicile or an idiot (based on an IQ test)

Proof of residency

Rental contract on company name, therefore you require a letter from the company listing the names of the occupants and a copy of your husbands bosses ID to enable you to get proof of residency (address) to set up utility bills so you can prove where you live, still with me? This process hasn't been helped by the fact we've just moved and it takes a month before all bills show new address.

To come to South Africa we had to have an offer of a place to study in order for the children to apply for a student visa. Strangely enough this hasn't been mentioned yet in regards to renewing the visas.

You will note that despite hiring an agency to assist with the applications, they don't actually do an awful lot. I can go online and download all the forms above, in one nice tidy folder, with the same instructions and then waste my time standing in the wrong queues, in the wrong buildings, forgetting passports, not knowing what or how to ask. They don't give you the address of the nearest hospital to where you live, or let you know that you have to pay xx amount in cash and other places will accept card payment. They don't tell you what documents you need, how to get them certified or where. They don't explain the acronyms used such as SAPS (South African Police Service).

But after you complain, after you say this was a very stressful process, after you've submitted all the forms, originals, certified copies they reply saying... 'we need originals of x,y & z, where's the certified copy of hubbies degree certificate as requested (seriously they hadn't asked for that, another trip to the police station) and we told you a relocation expert was available for you' you sigh, you refer them back to endless meetings and emails where you told them 'I don't know what I'm doing, where to do it, I struggle with the language, accents, making myself understood, I need a contact person, someone to call who can provide me with an address, tell me what documents I need and how to ask for what I need'

Did they provide me with that service? Yes, she helped us find a new house to rent...well actually No. The relocation expert (coughs and laughs out loud) took me to two unsuitable properties in January and not another word from her until mid June. I found tenants to take over our existing contract, a new house to rent, dealt with removal quotes, met with the agents and owner, supervised the packing, the removal, the unpacking, the inventory, list of faults and repairs with both houses, settled up all the outstanding bills, queued for hours to transfer the utilities, change of address with banks, schools, doctors etc. the relocation expert turned up on removal day with a clip board, missed half the faults, emailed an eligible report then phoned me a week after the repairs were carried out to ask me should she phone the landlord and chase him up.

Yes, so that's what you do when you move, 'what's the hassle, Suzanne? get on with it, the rest of us have to.'

I understand that and yes I have got on with it, it's been made even more stressful by the fact that since the minute hubbies company asked us to move here, they said 'relax, we will do it with you, for you, hire an agency' but forgot to add 'ha only joking, you're on your own'

The agency have already submitted their bills for services provided to us and despite me informing hubbies company all the way through that they haven't been doing anything to help us, the company are paying the bill....where's my cut? I'm the one that's done the work.


  1. I know that the bureaucracy in SA is OTT, but it does provide jobs.

    And if it makes you feel any better, when my OH and I wanted to move to the UK 17 years on what was then an ancestry visa, we had to have two interviews, pay loads of money, and prepare a 300 page folder of documents for the British High Commission in Johannesburg (long before they moved to Pretoria).

    As for your pay, well you're an angel, and I'm sure your husband appreciates the hassle you've had x.

  2. Never been an expat (hoping for a year in Aus maybe next year) but was an expat brat for a long time (Kuwait, Japan,Malaysia). Of course being a child I had no knowledge of the in & outs but I did joke, and still do, that my Dad thought moving countries involved walking out of one house in the morning and into a different house in the afternoon with my mum doing all the work in the background to ensure it was seamless and stressfree (for everyone but her).

  3. You all sound like a bunch of old goats

    1. Wonderfully mature and helpful comment and thank you for taking the time to do the word verification to submit your comment, it's deserving of posting, but next time, leave your name please

  4. Haha re the goats, it wasn't even me saying it! Hahaha!
    And I think bureaucracy everywhere is pretty terrible, sometimes it seems like they actually work at making life more difficult (surely not)

    1. dont think the application was as difficult as the agency made it for us