Spent a couple hours finishing up Mtuseni’s online application for a visitor visa — and writing out a multi-page set of instructions for him to follow when he logs in, clicks through a dozen completed pages, and then provides his “electronic signature” by clicking the Submit button on the last page.
No one else can click that Submit button, only the applicant. It’s a little ridiculous when you think that most people around the world seeking a visa can’t speak English. Or use a computer. Someone fills out the application for them. This is perfectly legal and, given the complexity of the process, is virtually mandatory. But the applicant has to do the final click. This wouldn’t be so difficult if I was sitting next to Mtuseni at a computer in Johannesburg, but I can’t — and there are endless login and security and confirmation screens he must navigate before arriving at The Button.
I think they make it this hard so a proportion of people give up. Less work for the office staff.
But I did encounter one pleasant surprise. Unlike the convoluted process last year of submitting the application, getting a barcoded deposit slip, going to a bank to pay the fee in cash and getting a coded receipt, then going back online to enter the code and schedule an appointment… this year we can pay by credit card! Hooray! I’m still not sure how that works… the system offers no help or hints about what happens after certain data, like a credit card number, is entered. But perhaps we can avoid making the application process a two-day odyssey.
Of course, the fee went up.
And then, the interview. It all hinges on that. I have some new letters of support to back him up, which will be sent under a cover letter from John Kerry’s office directly to the Consulate via special Senate Bat-Phone. Fingers crossed. Perhaps the credit card payment option is a good omen!
His interview will be in a couple of weeks. After he clicks The Button.
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