Visa Woes-Go Green!

When life gives you lemon, make lemonade. And when life gives you a Pakistani passport, get a visa. Go figure.

Might not be that hard to figure for the thousands of Pakistanis like me who spend hours of their time, energy and effort on getting zillions of supporting documents together, every time they wish to get on a plane. And a green passport definitely doesn’t help much if you think the only thing worth doing in this world is to travel!

So every time I look at an airfare deal or at photos of my next dream destination, I know it’s not gonna be as easy as it looks! Grab a ticket, get on a plane and ready, steady, GO! I wish!

Booking the flight is the easiest part. The real ordeal is getting a visa. A regular check list for Pakistani passport holders includes a cover letter saying who, what, why ( basically a convincing argument that you are not interested in dwelling in their country for good/ that you have a LIFE), bank statements, work certificate from employer, company details, a local sponsor letter, travel itinerary, copies of air tickets, hotel bookings, a sound travel history, a bundle of photos and more often than not a hefty non refundable visa fee. Most embassies require you to appear in person to submit your forms ( in the case of Pakistanis a pile of papers that could put the complete works of Rumi to shame.

When my husband and I applied for your Australian visa in 2011, we factored in the fact that we had a green passport and therefore submitted our ‘books’ 2 months before our intended travel date. Ten days before our flight and no signs of our stamp. Then we were told to reapply since one chapter from our book was missing. The one that convinced them we weren’t going to eat off their social security system for good. New books were published, new chapters added, visa finally issued a day before the flight. Double the visa fee, double the book publishing, two dabbed egos. Hotel booking and airfares rescued. Sydney and Melbourne were gorgeous if that was any compensation!

Our intended trip to Bali in 2012 met an even more interesting fate. We submitted our freshly published books a month is advance to the Indonesian embassy in KL. The visa officer refused to accept our passports or visa fee, took in our books and said they would send our passport copies for security checks to Jakarta. He gave us a contact number for immigration in Jakarta and said our sponsor keep calling and pestering them on the status of our application. He refused to give us a time line for the process. The more persistent your sponsor is the faster the process will be. No one ever attended the phone number he gave. Needless to say, that was the end of our Bali dream. The Indonesian embassy still hasn’t gotten back to us nearly after a year. With our flights down the drain and dreams shattered, we never bothered following up either. Indonesia, seriously? BOOHOO!

Oh, we also wasted tickets to Phuket last year! That should make for another post, another day!

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