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Not quite home yet…….more visa thoughts

Gate 9

Tom Jobim International Airport

Rio de Janeiro 7:15pm

I’ve got a few minutes before my flight boards. I posted a long blog earlier that just touched on a bunch of things that happened this trip. We were able to get Monica’s visa – she’ll be flying to Miami on July 7, and then to Philadelphia. That is so cool. Just a few thoughts on the visa experience…

We started this in October of 2007 and Monica will receive her visa in the middle of May. Eight months to get this done. Seems like it took longer. There was a lot of stress involved.

We hired an attorney to help us with the process. I think that it was a worthwhile expense, but some people may disagree. We used a web-based program to enter our data into forms. The attorney printed the forms and sent the package in for us. We had some assurance that everything was correct, thus saving us possible delay. Was it worth $300? I think so. Is it worth the $1200 or more that some other attorneys charge? Not sure about that.

The papers and work required by the consulate for the visa are considerable.

Monica’s “I’m not a criminal” certificate from the RJ state police could only be ordered, in person, from an office in downtown Rio. This took a trip into the city and an entire day of our lives, not to mention the expense. Oh, but the certificate itself was free.

The medical work required for the visa is extensive – we needed vaccinations, a chest x-ray, a mammogram, ultrasound, blood work, some other gynocological tests and vaccinations before we ever saw the consulate’s doctor. Monica had to bring a certificate from her own doctor testifying to her health. This stuff took a lot of time and trouble. Monica had many results from tests a year ago, but they had to be repeated. We had no time to wait for Brasil’s socialized medicine – we needed all of this stuff done in a few weeks, so we had to pay cash. It can take a month just to get an appointment to see a free doctor.

The packet from the consulate in Rio needs to be updated. We carefully made sure that we had all of the required documents – in the proper order and took this packet to the consulate with us. While we were waiting for the interview, we found that we needed another form – this form was marked “cancelled” on our packet. We had filled it out anyway, so it was a simple matter to do it again as we waited for our interview. Had the packet said that we needed it, it would have been there. Lesson learned: bring everything to the consulate with you. You may be asked for something you weren’t expecting. Some people had a lot of papers with them.

The people in the immigrant visa area were very helpful, something Monica did not expect. She was treated badly last year when she tried to get a tourist visa to come to Melody’s wedding. I think she expected more of the same and she was surprised by how pleasant and helpful everyone was.

I liked the Hotel OK. If Monica hadn’t been ill, it would have been fun to explore the place more. It is very convenient, the breakfast was nice, the parking was free and the people were very helpful. Someone rode with me to the parking garage – it was located on the next street, but it was a 10 minute ride to get there, due to the weird one-way streets and the traffic. It was nice of them to do that for me. I don’t think that I would have found it by myself.

If the visa fee is stated in dollars ($131), and I can only pay it at a Citibank office….why do I have to pay in reais??? This Citibank branch does do currency exchange – so why wouldn’t they take my dollars? Just something that bothered me…..

Anyway, that’s done. Monica should receive her passport this week with her visa along with a sealed envelope to be presented to the immigration clerk when she arrives. Isn’t that just a little weird? She was warned not to open the envelope. Why the hell don’t we have a paragraph or two, along with her digitized photo information and whatever other secret information stuck in an encrypted database somewhere, indexed by her name and visa number? Is there an immigration clerk anywhere that isn’t wired into the government databases??? Silly stuff….

The plane is about to board, so I’ll go get ready. I’ll post this from Miami in the morning.

Continued from Bucks County Coffee Co, 30th Street Station, Downtown Philadelphia. 11:30am.

I’m about to take the R-2 home – I should get to Wilmington at about 12:30. It’s a 15 minute walk through today’s rain to get home, where I can get a much-needed shower.

More travel weirdness….

I was not allowed to board the US Air flight from Miami to Philadelphia this morning. There was a problem of some sort with the ticket. The ticket was purchased from United, but it was a US Air flight, a continuation of my trip on American from Rio. I was finally allowed to board at the very last minute (I was the last person on the plane).

The US Air flight was uneventful except for a 30-minute hold above Philadelphia. The weather is bad (it’s raining). The flight controllers had us fly in a circle for 30 minutes to help spread out their workload. I could not get Andrew on the phone this morning, so I’m taking the train home. I’m enjoying some coffee and free wi-fi in this nice coffee shop as I’m waiting for the train to Wilmington. It’ll be nice to get home with a little time before tonight’s night shift.

Sorry, no cool pictures,

gotta go catch a train







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