The nightmare of getting a UK visa

A thousand questions stare at you, so subtly phrased that if you’re a terrorist or bail ducker, you’re nailed after the first four.

When last did you apply for a visa? A deep longing for our grandkids forces us to visit the UK.

Thanks to a number of crooked compatriots who are entering Pommieland in droves with false papers, legitimate applicants are saddled with not only huge fees, but documentation taxing the brain.

Not to worry, says our travel agent, log on to the internet, complete the questionnaire and Bob’s your uncle. Wrong. A red, white and blue homepage with a list of vague links, taking hours selecting the right one.

Once in, you think up a code word of not less than eight letters; then a secret entry code of two hundred letters and figures. These you use every time you log on. Trouble is, when you re-enter, you’ve either forgotten your code word or fouled up the entry code.

After the initial agony, ecstasy follows. Wrong. The agony has just begun. A thousand questions stare at you; questions so subtly phrased that if you’re a terrorist, drug mule, kleptomaniac or bail ducker, you’re nailed after the first four.

And if your great-great grandmother fed food laced with fishhooks to Boer War British soldiers in concentration camps, your application disappears off the screen.

After two hours you’ve processed the twin applications, and ready for Phase Two: Booking your appointment, thankfully via advisor Madeleine.

Then, voila! You can now proceed to Phase Three: Pitching at the British consulate 400km away. Having a specific time and date booked, the interview would be quick and orderly – and a small queue. Wrong. With many others you’re jammed in a minuscule reception area, strip-searched before entering the auditorium.

Then, the wait for the Tannoy to announce your number. Number 54 is somewhere in the distant future. But at last we’re seated at a cubicle manned by a friendly lady.

We’re home and dry. Wrong.

My Heidi’s ID photo doesn’t look like her (obviously, she’s prettier in real life) so a new one required.

Why the UK? Why not Matjiesfontein in the Karoo – also a British enclave with red open bus, red postbox and all? No visa required.

If it weren’t for the brats …

Cliff Buchler.

Cliff Buchler.

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