Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why Can't Visa Departments Be More Like UPS?

I had a friend who was a real estate broker. He said that when people sell their home they enter a period of "temporary insanity." I totally understand what he means. People get stressed out because there's so much on the line and the turnaround times are usually tight.

I feel the same way applying for a visa. I'm really starting to get stressed out because I haven't heard a word about my Czech visa. My company promised me and others, "no problem! you will get your visa within sixty days from applying. Our owner has met personally with the foreign police and that will happen. You will not be denied." Those sixty days are up in five days on August 17th.

Three weeks from today I have no idea where I'll be living. Is it the Czech Republic? Or America? If it's the Czech Republic, I need adequate time to respect my employers and give two weeks notice. If it's the Czech Republic, I should have given notice on my apartment here in Madison already. If it's the Czech Republic, I have a free ticket non-refundable back to Prague at the end of the month, I do not want to miss that plane. The whole economics of going there is based on using that ticket provided by the Czech school I'd be working for. If it's the Czech Republic, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah.

Government should not make people feel powerless. Their job is to empower us. Yet, waiting for a visa is easily one of the most powerless feelings ever when dealing with a government. All I want to do is come to the Czech Republic and empower Czech citizens with English language skills so they are more globally competitive. I get the benefit of living my dream of enjoying the Czech people and their culture. It's not so outlandish a request. A win-win.

Wouldn't it be great if a visa department was more like UPS? These package delivery companies figured out long ago, that so much is stake in some people's package deliveries, that customers were going to be calling every four hours saying "where's my package now?"

How did those companies deal with that constant customer anxiety and need for communication as to the status of a "package?" They put in tracking software so a customer could punch in a tracking code and see where it was at any given time. Has my visa left Chicago? Where is it now? Has it moved from Bureaucrat A to Bureaucrat B's desk? When is it scheduled to be delivered back to Chicago so I can take days off to go to the Czech Consulate and get it? Give me some sense of control and power back over my own future! Where's my visa? Talk to me!

Here's more on this story:

What just hit me?

I'm a better American citizen for having gone through this


Chaplain said...

Hi Karen,

I sympathise with your frustration. I am also beginning increasingly to doubt the promises made by your language school to me which you kindly link to in your blog post.

As you know, I wrote to the Executive Director of the school on Friday 24th July regarding the work permit & visa situation as it affects both you and Anna but have still not had the decency of a reply. I wrote an email again yesterday, both to the Executive Director and to her PA, pointing out their failure to reply and asking when I might hear something. Be assured that if I do hear anything back, you'll be the first to know!

Christopher said...

I know exactly how you feel. It was so difficult when I was waiting on my work visa. I couldn't really do anything, like my travel plans, because who knew if I would have my visa back in time. But what a great day it was when I got that overnight package from the Washington embassy with my passport and Czech visa. But how cool whould it have been to be able to track the status like we do with UPS!?!? Hang in there and hopefully you'll hear something soon.

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