Expat paperwork

We made a trip to the American consulate in Dubai this week: I had to surrender my US green card (long story); and Son2 needed his passport renewed.

DH and I, and Son2, all had to attend, in case one of us was trying to spirit him out of the country without the other knowing. The appointments for consular services were helpfully during school hours, so the place was crawling with children in school uniform, adults clutching paperwork, steely eyed officials and guards.

Son2 wasn’t happy at all about missing swimming at school, so DH told him a little white lie: “We’re going to the president’s mansion,” he said. “You’ll have to be good,” we added. “There’ll be handcuffs there and everything.” (That bit’s probably true.)

xxxx

So we might have glorified it a bit to Son2

On arrival, we passed through the body scanner, gave up our phones, the car keys and my handbag, and proceeded to Fort Knox’s main area – a large space containing half a dozen rows of chairs and a concession stand selling pizzas and other snack foods.

We waited our turn, and I asked DH for the umpteenth time if we had all the paperwork we needed:

My green cardtick

Son2’s passport, and copy of the bio data pagetick, tick

Original birth certificate, and one copytick, tick

Mine and DH’s passports, plus copiestick, tick, tick, tick

Passport form (fill out online, print and bring with)tick

Passport photo (US size, full-face, no looking down, ears exposed)tick

Fees: 388 AED – tick

I was almost holding my breath at the counter, sure there’d be something we’d overlooked. Son2’s school reports perhaps. His great great grandmother’s (on the paternal side) proof of pioneering voyage across the Atlantic and first homestead. Our tax returns. First pet’s photo, eye level 28-35mm from the bottom of the photo, no sunglasses.

“Do you have another picture?” asked the official, frowning at the perfectly proportioned, US passport-sized headshot we’d had taken of Son2.

“No,” we answered, glumly.

“The background needs to be white,” he said, pointing out the so-opaque-it-was-barely-there tinge of colour visible in the backdrop.

Any mum who’s ever felt like she’s trying to pin a woodland sprite to a studio chair when getting her young child photographed will understand why we groaned – then crossed our fingers and toes when he said he’d put the application through and let the system decide!

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About Circles in the Sand

Sun worshiper, journalist, mother, pilot's wife and distracted housewife living in the land of glitz and sand
This entry was posted in Children, Dubai, Expat, Family, Parenting and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Expat paperwork

  1. The US Embassy in London is just as bad! There is a pharmacy around the corner doing a roaring trade in babysitting car keys. As who can leave the house without taking their keys??

  2. MsCaroline says:

    I took #2 for his first ‘adult’ (eg, over 16) passport a few weeks ago with the same issue. MrL had insisted that his last-minute photoshopped and creatively sized photo would pass muster, but it looked pretty sketchy to me – especially since it had been taken against an off-white wall in our living room at 10.30pm. I felt like I was actually holding my breath while the embassy guy was inspecting the whole thing. Fortunately, it went through, so I guess ‘the system’ isn’t quite as touchy as the embassy folk would like us to think.

    • I know exactly what you mean about holding your breath! I’m so glad to hear it went through. Ours did too, and I’m amazed because in the passport, the pic does look really odd! Like he’s sitting in the dark! I really hope they don’t now stop us at passport control – I guess we’ll find out when we head to Washington DC soon! Looking forward to hearing about your summer plans x

  3. iotamanhattan says:

    It definitely IS touchy. We uploaded photos electronicaly in advance, but one (mine) was then rejected at the Embassy on the day. “Just because the photo was successfully uploaded doesn’t mean we’ve accepted it.” It was taken against a white wall, but that somehow showed up as an odd colour in their system. I spent a very anxious few days rushing around getting a new photo done, using the US Embassy courier system which costs a fortune, and biting our nails that it would come through in time. They say not to book travel tickets before you’ve got your renewed visa, but realistically, who does that?

    And yes, Nappy Valley Girl is right. It’s ridiculous that you can’t take car keys in, because most people do need them to get there in the first place. It’s really that “not our problem” mentality.

    • Iota, that all sounds so stressful! The system ended up accepting our photo and I’m quite amazed because in the passport, the pic background looks even darker, like we forgot to put the lights on! Now we’re onto renewing ID cards – endless! x

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