The Visa – traps for new players – pt 1

I’m pedantic. If I get my stubborn up, I can be particularly so. It’s a blessing and curse.

When dealing with pedantic, bureaucratic systems (such as consulates and immigration departments), it can be helpful to think like the rat you’re trying to catch.

In the process of getting our visas, my pedantry was both a help and a stress. In one case it potentially saved us a few hundred dollars, probably a heated argument with a consulate official (never a good idea) and possibly a few days wait.

So, on the day before our visa interview, I walked into the Post Office all ready to pay our Non-Immigrant Visa Application Fees. I’d paid off a chunk from our credit card in preparation for this expense, only to be informed by the teller that they only accepted cash or EFT, not credit card (this wasn’t specified on the website…). Not wanting to take any chances, I went across the road, withdrew the cash from the bank and tried again.

Whilst the US Consulate site hadn’t been specific about which forms of payment Australia Post would accept, they were very specific about the Application Fee:

Original cash register receipt from any Australian Post Office showing payment of the non-refundable visa application fee. No other form of payment is accepted. You must pay this at Australia Post. No exceptions.

They also recommended that if I wanted to keep a record of this transaction (yes, please), I could ask for a duplicate receipt. So when the teller handed me the first receipt and it’s duplicate I looked them over, as she was working on the second. They were identical, even to the point that they both stated ‘Duplicate Receipt’ at the top. Luckily, I caught this and it raised a red flag.

“Where’s the original receipt?” I asked.

“The machine ate it,” the teller replied.

“I need it.”

“I threw it in the bin.”

“Please get it.”

“But it’s torn.”

“I still need the original…”

I persisted, and the teller retrieved the mangled and torn receipt from the bin and proceeded to repair it with some sticky tape. In hind sight, this stick tape was a bad idea – it made the ink on the receipt fade making it almost unreadable. I got a second duplicate of the receipt, just in case it would help.

When I presented this receipt to the Consulate the next day, it was almost an issue, but luckily the sticky tape hadn’t completely destroyed the ink on the receipt and the reference number could be made out, and they accepted it as paid.

Phewph.

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