Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Deconstructing Life in Riverside

Getting “Visa’d”

We have received visas from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. By treaty with the US, Taiwan has no official embassy. The US has no official embassy in Taiwan either. Those duties are contracted to private organizations. The Taiwanese organization in the US is called the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. In Taiwan the American organization is called the American Institute Taiwan. These organizations handle all consular type operations in their respective countries.

We had to make a couple of trips to LA to secure visas. In preparation for the first trip, I filled out the visa applications, took the visa photographs, and gathered paperwork, like an introduction letter and set off to the Office. I had gone on the internet and looked at what was required and thought that I had put it all together in a nice package. But bureaucrats are the same in any country: Even when they’re working for a private organization. In addition to the things I had included I also needed:

My Children’s Birth Certificates (I had to prove they were mine)
My Marriage Certificate (I had to prove she was my wife)
A Certificate of Ordination (I had to prove I was legitimate)
A Statement of Qualifications (I had to prove I was qualified)
A Letter of Invitation from Taiwan (I had to prove I was invited)

The lady that was working with me wanted to make it easy for me to know what was needed so she gave me a nice list to follow – Written in Chinese. But when I told her I couldn’t read it she very patiently explained each thing necessary. Now you might be thinking, “That’s the way it should be.” But these people were incredibly busy. They were working very quickly. I’m used to America…I go to the store and ask for something and they tell me we’re out of that…just because they don’t want to take any time helping you. After I turned in all the paperwork that was needed it only took 24 hours to receive the visa. Maybe it’s better that the government isn’t involved.

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