A tale of two passport officers

There are lists upon lists upon lists in this house right now.  My India lists were taking over my list book, so I had to buy a special book that now houses all of the lists relating to our big adventure.  The very first list in this new book is the urgent to-do list. There are very few things on this page at the moment, but I can see it filling quickly in the coming months.

One of the things that we MUST GET DONE to figure out when we might possibly move to India is apply for visas.  This process is said to take ten business days, and requires that we have passports that are valid after the proposed return date to Canada.  Willy’s and my passports met this requirement, but the lils did not.  Once we realized this was the case, we gathered all that we needed and I went to the passport office bright and early on a Tuesday morning.

When I arrived, I presented the applications, and told the person who assigns the number our story, including the need for urgency, and my desire to expedite our applications. He gave encouraging responses, and put me in the cue.  When my number was called, I went to the wicket and again explained my story.  We were moving to India for a temporary placement of one year. We need visas for tickets, but need to renew the passports for the visas, and that we would like to have the passports returned quickly, in case we were asked to move in early September. When I was finished, he asked what day our flight was.  I explained again the passport to visa to ticket link, and he looked at me like I had three heads.  He explained that he didn’t believe that we would be wanting to move to India that quickly, and asked for proof from Willy’s work.

Proof I didn’t have.  I tried to talk to the agent, see what I could do to make validate the information that I was presenting him with, but I was met with blank looks and repeated head shakes. He made me feel as though I was a thorn in his side, who should have known better than to come down to the office without a plane ticket booked.  He pretty much assured me that tickets would be necessary, but eventually conceded that a letter might suffice. 

Resigned to the fact that I would not be doing an expedited renewal of the passports that day, I asked what the turnaround for the service would be, so I could plan for my return trip.  He told me that it was nine days.  Given this was one day short of the regular turnaround, and that I would have to leave and come back the next day, I asked that they be processed normally.  He denied me of that too, because there was more than one year before the passports expired.  He told me that the only way I could get the passports renewed was on the 24-hr turnaround.  Apparently this all should have been explained to me when I checked in, but it wasn’t. When I left I was really close to tears, tears of frustration and time wasted.

Two days later I returned bright and early.  This time I was armed with a letter from Willy’s work, and was willing to turn on the water works if necessary.  There were very few people waiting, so I got to the wicket quickly.  I was met by a smiling face, someone who seemed executed and interested to hear about our adventure.  As he quickly processed the two applications, he made jokes with me and was genuinely pleasant.  The only disappointment I had was minor, when he told me that I could not get the passport within a day if I didn’t have an imminent flight.  This was quickly rectified when he told me that the passports would be ready two days later.  I left happy, with our timeline back on track.

Now that I safely have the two new passports in hand,  I can’t help but wonder how it is that I had such different experiences in the same week.  I told essentially the same story, save for the letter authenticating the trip.  While this did have an impact on the outcome, I was also misinformed by the first agent that I met with, a fact that wouldn’t have changed with the letter.  I understand now why this is such a feared and loathed experience for many.


About lilbunnyrabbitz

Ottawa mom to two crazy little peeps, wife to my favourite geek. More on me later.
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8 Responses to A tale of two passport officers

  1. neeroc says:

    Don’t let it throw ya, I forsee many, many bureaucratic encounters in your future *g*

  2. Maureen says:

    Unfortunately, it sounds like someone was letting their bad day become your bad day. Glad it worked out

  3. Alicia says:

    Ugh. It’s always different everytime. And not to discourage you, but the visa’s aren’t any better. Make sure you check your application over a million times and read the consolate or embassy’s website a million times. There is always some type of setback (I go to them often for my work). Good luck!

  4. Alison says:

    Hope the visa process goes smoother. Sometimes I wonder if people understand that their jobs will involve dealing with the public before they’re hired.

  5. Finola says:

    That is beyond frustrating, and very similar to a Rogers experience we had this past weekend. Yup, the cable company has now become just as bureaucratic as the government.
    Sounds like you had a good result though in the end. Keep at it, the lists will eventually get shorter!

  6. Ugh. Hoping the rest of the process goes smoothly. When we went to Japan for my BIL’s wedding, we applied with four months to spare. One of the officials made a mistake and denied citizenship. Then didn’t want to admit he was wrong. At one point they were saying the whole family had managed to lose citizenship. It’s funny now but not at the time. The passport was finally issued thirty minutes before closing the day before our early morning flight. We had to get our MP involved and my MIL lost 15 lbs over the stress.

  7. Brie says:

    There really aren’t any excuses that can be made for not being respectful and polite. Even if they can’t be helpful they should try. And they should be more sensitive o what you are going through. They may see people with problems all day, but that doesn’t make you problem less real!

  8. Krista - The Tech Mom says:

    Oh so sorry to hear about all the trouble and glad it worked out!

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