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Obtaining a visa

After weeks - no, months - of rallying papers and forms and bouts of worry - I took the elevator up to the thirteenth floor of the Wrigley Building in Chicago for my 10am appointment to obtain a settlement visa for the UK. Underneath the digital floor number display scrolled a message, welcoming the elevator's occupants to the building and helpfully informing them of the time and temperature in both celsius and fahrenheit. The building was rather grand but the office, entered after a bag-search and metal detector walk-through, was a small drab space. Fifteen rather comfortable waiting room chairs, a long wall desk for form-filling out, a television and windows for vacant gazing, and three counter windows for submitting documentation. The walls were decorated in posters advertising Neil's Dairy. I sat down and waited for my number to be called.


Both halves of curlicued white building might be the Wrigley Building, or perhaps only the left tower.


In a room so small, it's hard not to choose eavesdropping as entertainment. We could all easily hear the counter discussions. Some people hadn't filled in an appliction form; another hadn't brought any documentation with them. A child beaming from her mother's arms had her lost sandal returned to her by a concerned fellow-waiter. At the desk, a man furrowed his brow as he tried to determine what the form was actually asking him. Up at the counter, a worker questioned an applicant's savings. Within fifteen minutes, it was my turn.

I handed over my application and the woman said she'd have to defer my case to her superior officer. Everyone else there was applying for more transient visas, it seemed - student, work, transit. There was no space in the counter's slot to hand over my whole binder. The superior officer met me by a side door and took the whole binder from me. Come back in half an hour, he said, and gave me a slip of paper to allow building re-entry.

My hotel was all of three minutes away, so I went back to read and rest there to while away the time. Listening to everyone elses' cases had made me tranquil. Anyways, I could hardly add any more evidence to the file when it was out of my hands.

I came back at 11 for another 10 minutes wait. The senior officer met me with a smile, complimenting me effusively on how well-documented my application was. (A relief for him after all the applicants who hadn't even filled in the form?) He said I'd proven the duration of the relationship, that they'd grant me "Indefinite Leave to Remain", a much more convenient alternative to the possible "Limited Leave to Remain" that they might have granted me had I proved my case less thoroughly. He gave me back my binder and told me to return at 2:30.

Through the bright sunshine, my father and I went to lunch at a respectable Thai place he'd found, right next to the Thai consulate. We walked the labyrinth painted on the ground by the Episcopalian cathredral; the cathedral itself was closed to visitors. We walked past fountains, along the river, sat in the sunshine. I took photos, returning the camera to him when 2:30 neared. Whether or not they were enforced, the building rules specified "No Electronics".

We were all told to return at 2:30, and our line stretched out the door of the small room. It moved swiftly though. All we were doing was collecting our passports and checking the details were correct. One woman had been issued a student visa instead of a work permit. Mine was all correct, though, a pale sticker with a picture of me, my life in minimal statistics, my permission to move to the UK and live with C. In the end, for all my worrying, it was all very easy.

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
toscas_kiss
Jun. 3rd, 2005 04:03 pm (UTC)
Congratulations! :-)
owlfish
Jun. 5th, 2005 09:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It's a relief to have it in hand.
(Deleted comment)
aca
Jun. 5th, 2005 10:03 am (UTC)
Indeed, glad it went well. When are you due to land on this sceptered isle?
owlfish
Jun. 5th, 2005 09:23 pm (UTC)
My cunning plan is to arrive around July 7th - and take off two or three days later for a week in Leeds. (Conferences.) It seems a very long time from now... and yet June feels entirely too short for all the packing and other things in need of being done.
kashmera
Jun. 3rd, 2005 04:35 pm (UTC)
Far from making me feel tranquil I think I found the listening to other people's concersations at the booths bit the most nerve-wracking, especially in those cases where the person's request was refused. I didn't want to eavesdrop but, as you say, its impossible not to. At least you knew the decision before being told to go and have lunch. :o)
owlfish
Jun. 5th, 2005 09:26 pm (UTC)
I didn't hear anyone's request refused, fortunately, although some people were told to go away and bring back more information later. I'd spent so much time worrying, and there was nothing else I could do about it at that point - any additional information I could provide was back in Toronto.
kashmera
Jun. 6th, 2005 06:36 pm (UTC)
I sat talking with a bunch of other people whilst waiting. I met two students from Japan and a cute software engineer from Switzerland...:o)

The good news is...you never have to do it again. :o))
cliosfolly
Jun. 3rd, 2005 05:42 pm (UTC)
I'm pleased that the process moved so smoothly for you today; what good news with which to start the weekend!
owlfish
Jun. 5th, 2005 09:24 pm (UTC)
So true.

I really like this icon, by the way.
stonecircle
Jun. 3rd, 2005 07:54 pm (UTC)
Congratulations! Will have to meet up with you and C sometime when your over here.

R.
owlfish
Jun. 5th, 2005 09:23 pm (UTC)
I'm looking forward to it!
saffronjan
Jun. 4th, 2005 01:53 am (UTC)
Many congratulations
I was just warbling to John that after all your worries, you ended up having a very pleasant visa-fetching trip to Chicago, and he was as happy for you as I am.

I raise my glass of ice water to you!
wibblepot
Jun. 4th, 2005 07:12 pm (UTC)
Hurrah!
Glad that you can stay, you and Colin will have to come and stay with us again, and we hope to see more of you once you're settled here!
owlfish
Jun. 5th, 2005 09:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Hurrah!
Hurray for easy visits!
rhube
Jun. 5th, 2005 11:54 am (UTC)
Wahey! gladthings went easier for you than those otehr people :o)
galaxy_nebula
Jul. 7th, 2005 08:52 am (UTC)
You are cool
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )