Saturday, January 31, 2015

I'm off to PERU...YAAY!

HOWEVER, I wasn't sure if I would be calling the airlines (AGAIN) to change my flight reservations at the last minute!  My passport arrived back to me THE SAME DAY I WAS SCHEDULED TO FLY OUT.  Talk about cutting it close! I was panicking up to the last minute because the DR consulate in New York sat on my passport up until ONE WEEK prior to me departing.  They hadn't even PROCESSED my Visa a week before traveling. I was livid!


I had been reaching out to my attorney weeks before my departure for an update and she advised me that they were still processing it.  I got tired of hearing that, so I found their phone number and called them for myself.  When I finally go someone on the phone, I was told that the reason my passport had NOT been processed yet was because my attorney had NOT submitted the processing fee of $135 to begin the process.  I had so many mixed emotions of anger, solidarity, frustration and even calmness. 


 Long-Story-Short: I got both my attorney and the consulates' office on the phone to get down to the bottom of everything.  I found out that The DR consulate in NY is notorious for misplacing funds, but my attorney obviously was NOT on top of the status of the process like she led me to believe...that's another story.  In the end, she was able to get them to approve my visa  in 24 hours (which is NOT common) and the consulate in NY overnighted my documents (which is also NOT common).  However, the straw that broke the camel's back for me in dealing with this particular consulate office was that I directly spoke with the lady that would be processing & shipping my documents and I had specifically requested PRIORITY OVERNIGHT\SATURDAY delivery...since everything was already approved. This office knew me very well in a weeks time.  It's funny, as soon as they heard my voice, they addressed me as "Si, Si, Yes, Sonya, Hi...blah blah blah". Well, I had asked them for the tracking number so that I can track it considering that I was scheduled to fly out from DFW at 7pm on Saturday. However, when I looked on line Saturday morning to track my passport, I saw that the shipment had indeed arrived at my local Fed Ex, BUT the nitwit that shipped it failed to put SATURDAY delivery!!  So It showed that it would arrive at my doorstep  by 8am on MONDAY. GEEEZ! I simply grabbed my purse and keys and drove over to my local FED EX office to pick up my passport that Saturday morning.  Luckily I had already packed my bags and simply needed to say my final good byes to my loved ones.  I made 2 stops in Fort Worth and another stop at my local Walmart for a couple of last minute items, then my husband drove me to the airport. 


You can check out my traveling scenes on Youtube (may not be finished downloading...) HERE: 


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

APOSTILLE: Should I be frustrated?

Every government document that I submit must be notarized and/or Apostilled. This I know. I've shipped several documents down to my State Department in Austin over the past few months; My Birth Certificate, Marriage license, Police Background and lastly my certified FBI Report. When you ship these documents, it's important to place a sticky note on the documents stating that you'd like for them to mail them back in the enclosed self-addressed\stamped envelopes that you provide.  I did this as well.   

Of the documents mentioned above, I've run into issues with getting 2 of these documents apostilled by the State Dept in TX. Two months ago, they returned my Police background check to me in my self-addressed envelope.  There was a note attached which stated that it should be notarized to reflect the date it was done by the notary.  I was puzzled.  Because the Request Cover letter that accompanies my document has the date and the actual document displays the notarization.  So I sent a copy of their letter to my attorney who turned around and said that I should reach out to the notary and they'll know what it means.  Long-Story-short, all notarizations MUST READ: Jane Doe appeared before me on the 31st day of July and I hereby notarize this document..blah blah blah. Needless to say, the notary added this verbiage,  I then reshipped it again and enclose another self-addressed prepaid envelope.  Three weeks wasted.

Lastly, today I finally got my FBI Report back today from Austin and it too had a letter of denial attached to it:

 The reason they denied it was because it WAS notarized. HUH?  WHAT?  Wait a minute...I thought all documents had to be notarized before being apostilled.  Well, Yes and No. That's not the case with an FBI government document (as of 2010) such as my background check.  As stated in the letter above the FBI background MUST be apostilled by the State Dept in Washington...not my State Dept in Texas.  As such, they included this attachment:

You tell me...So, should I be frustrated that I was not informed of this information by my attorney or should I just chalk it up to part of my Trials and Tribulation in this journey?  Nonetheless, I've reached out to my attorney again.  The document is clear on what I need to do next (send this to Washington) but I'm interested on hearing what the attorney has to say on this oversight. 

These are the steps in getting your FBI Fingerprint Apostille:

Follow the steps listed on the Department of State (Federal) Website.
  1. Complete the cover letter (pdf).
  2. Obtain a money order or cashiers check for $8 (U.S.) made payable to the U.S. Department of State.
  3. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope for faster return of your documents.
  4. Mail the documents (certified mail like FedEx is recommended):
    1. U.S. Department of State
      Authentications Office
      518 23rd Street NW.
      Washington, DC 20520

....and then wait...patiently...again.


 I'm also waiting for 1 more document from marriage license. Then I'M DONE with expecting anything else from Austin.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

My Passport Delays Continue

So 2 days ago I changed my flights and itinerary completely around due to the fact that I'm still waiting for my passport to return from the Dominican consulate.  I've reached out to the school director in Santiago as well as the one in Peru.  They both were very understanding of my situation and accommodated my new requests.

After speaking with my immigration attorney a week ago, she suggested 2 options  in regards to the delay.  After much thought, I decided to allow the consulate to keep my paperwork and finish up the oppose to having them ship it back to me and finalizing all this at a later date.  Had I chose the later, I may have ran into difficulties with the visa approval process down the road. 

I've been advised by SERVERAL expats and my instructor in Peru that I could simply continue with my original travel plans because the visa process "CAN BE DONE OUTSIDE OF YOUR HOME COUNTRY". However, there are pros & cons to that statement.  They say I shouldn't have to wait and suggest that I forge ahead as planned.   My instructor in Peru stated that if I decide to forge ahead with my original dates,  I could give my passport to the Dominican embassy upon arriving in Peru and they would complete the provisional visa process for me...while I'm in Peru. Considering I'll be in Peru over a month, she feels that would be enough time for the Peruvian \ Dominican embassy to complete it.   Only problem with that scenario is that I'll be right back at square ONE (waiting) if the Dominican embassy in Peru is slower than the one in America.  Not to mention the fact that I'll be STUCK in PERU when I'm expected to be in the DR.  Thus forcing me to change my flights and DR plans once again.  If I'm going to be delayed, I'd rather be delayed in my own home country.

The other downfall on NOT  allowing the "ever-so-slow" Dominican embassy to complete my visa process is this:  When applying for your provisional visa, there are several documents that accompany your visa application that the embassy will look at when deciding to approve your visa application. The Two most important documents (in my opinion) is the letter that I received from my employer which states my current employment status\salary etc...and the copies of my last 3 bank statements.  If I opted to delay my immigration process to March (which is when I arrive back to the DR), then I'll be taking a chance on my visa being possibly denied...considering my documents are dated  from November and I'll no longer be employed.  So it's better to show that you have a source of income and\or a sustainable income when your application is received.  Now keep in mind, this is the case with me going through the basic residency visa program.  If I was working directly with an NGO (501c) then all of this wouldn't be a concern for me.  But as previously stated, I've decided not to affiliated myself with any one NGOs at the moment.


This small delay has actually worked out in my favor due to the fact I REALLY needed to tie up a few more loose strings before leaving my home country.  Not to mention, this has given me an extra week or so to get with all the love ones and the ones that I haven't visited yet.