The process of packing up the contents of your worldly environment, upping off to a different country, and settling down there, is not generally expected to be a smooth process. You’d expect to forget to arrange this, or set that up. You wouldn’t be surprised if you needed a tax form, or went over your luggage allowance a little, or missed a day when booking a hotel.
However, to really throw spanners in a large variety of works requires a decent set of bureaucratic officials. And none come better than the good folks over at the British Border Agency. It’s not enough that they’ve created an elaborate set of hoops through which one is expected to jump in order to obtain a visa, but they’ve gone out of their way to tie both your arms behind your back before you start.
For example – you need to prove that you have a certain level of income. In two ways. So payslips aren’t enough – you need bank statements showing the income coming through. And not just bank statements from the internet (is there any other kind these days?) – they have to be Original, stamped by the bank, and signed. On each page.
And then there’s my personal favourite – the language requirement. You’d think that someone who qualified as an actuary (including passing the famed Communication exam first time round) through the Institute of Actuaries in Oxford would be able to hold his own in the lingua franca of the Old Country. But no – sorry – studying at Stellenbosch obviously indicates that you’re trying to infiltrate our pure Motherland with your infidel tongue, you villainous uitlander! So off one needs to travel to write an English test (and obtain 98%), and wait, and wait, and wait for the results. But of course, you need the original certificate, which comes from (gasp!) America, where the test is marked. Seriously – you can’t make stuff like this up. What makes an American a better judge of English than a South African, I don’t know.
So here I sit, waiting for a single page of paper, to add to the mountain of documentation I’ve collected over the past four weeks to enable me to make my way over to the Consulate to pass it all over to an official to decide my fate in 5 – 10 days.