I have started the year with a knot in my stomach. We have to renew our temporary residence visas, and the paperwork makes me freeze like a deer in headlights.
First, before we do anything, we have to renew our passports. They're still good for another 18 months, but the visa we're applying for is a three-year visa, and our passports have to be good for one year beyond that. Hence, a trip to the shops for passport photos, applications printed and completed, and a scheduled appointment at the U.S. Consulate in Johannesburg.
In the meantime we had a consultation with the immigration agent, which resulted in a whole list of necessary items - police clearance certificates from both South Africa AND the United States, medical clearance certificates, chest x-rays and radiologist clearance reports, certified copies of birth and marriage certificates, adoption court orders, letters from employers, etc. etc. etc.
Each one of these items takes at least one trip somewhere, a phone call and money. For instance, just to get the police clearance from the U.S. we have to drive to Johannesburg, fetch a fingerprint chart form, go to a local police station, get fingerprinted, follow whatever instructions to mail the fingerprints to the FBI, and then wait 6-8 weeks. I have a headache just thinking about it.
There are some people who can tackle this paperwork like it's nothing. I used to be one of those people. For some reason, though, lately it just sends me into a panic.
The only funny thing in all of this is the medical clearance form. My doctor has to sign saying that (I've left the typos in for your reading pleasure) I am not "mentally disordered or physically defective in any way," and that I am "not suffering from leprosy, veneral disease, trachoma or other contagious condition."
I'd like to find a person who's not "defective" in some way or other. :-)