Friday, December 11, 2009

A bit scarce, but…

DSC09258 … still around.

It’s been a thoroughly British week: another trip to Cambridge to finish lining up resources for the EEDA project and to make visits to the UK Tier 1 Visa folks, collecting  the odds and ends of components for the application packet. It’s turning into a full-time job.

In contrast to the Dutch application process, the UK application critically depends on extreme precision.  Each claim for points, whether for education, maintenance funds, or employment, must be accompanied by certified, original, English documentation.  Bank statements must be printed on letterhead, signed, and stamped with the bank seal.  Degrees must be the original copies handed out when graduating.  Salary payments must match to the date and penny on both sides of every transaction.  And no bank document can be older than 30 days.

The whole process almost foundered today because Fortis gave me my documents in Dutch rather than in English.  They are only usable if a licensed, certified translator generates cover documents.  After an hour of frantic phone calls, we found that the bank could, equivalently, certify an internet printout from their dual-language website.

ING was completely baffled: their post-downsizing branch policy no longer gives them the authority to print pr certify any documents.  It took hours, conversations with the branch manager, and intervention by a senior supervisor in Amsterdam, to even get current transactions printed on ING letterhead.

I think that every bank branch in Maastricht is tired of seeing me…

Then there is the cost…

  • Hundreds of euros for accountancy documents
  • Hundreds of pounds for expert assistance in London
  • Hundreds of dollars for an expediter in Chicago
  • A thousand dollars to make the application, with no certainty that it will pass.
  • Visa shutting down my credit cards when I tried to make online payment for the UK application.  The fraud squads were vigilant and suspended both cards as the requests hit.

All in all, this is one of the most difficult legal processes I’ve faced as an expat.  Hopefully, the biometrics and submission go smoothly next Wednesday in Chicago: I’ve got the appointments and the packet ready to go.

Ironically, I got a letter from IND that says my Dutch work / residency permit has been approved.  The process was easier and cheaper, focused on the business plan and the added value to the community.  Its a real contrast to the UK system of trying to find a rason to fail the application for formatting alone.

At least I have a home here in Maastricht for another year…

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