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Nettie

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Hi there to all the lovely people on this forum. I have been reading it for a while, while waiting to be registered.

I thought I will try and give a bit of background without divulging private information. Here is the deal:

We moved to the US in 2000, got our GC's in 2005. I went to SA in 2009 on a visit. My passport expired the day after I arrived and I applied for my SA passport the next day in Rustenburg. The days of waiting for my SA passport, turned into weeks, turned into months (because of inept Homeland Affairs/the people who deal with SA passport applications). I eventually lost my GC status because I was out of the country for more than a year. I applied for a SB-1 visa (Returning Resident), which was denied because I "didn't meet the requirements". That was a horrible, short, interview, I didn't even get to state my case.  

So here I am. 8 years later, still trying to get back. I have different avenues to pursue this and one is the GC Lottery. Lots of luck to everyone who is going to check their status today!

What I learnt:

1) As soon as you get your GC, or as soon as you are allowed to, apply for Advanced Parole and never travel without it.

2) Apply for USC as soon as possible.

3) Do not underestimate unforseen circumstances. Plans don't always work the way you think they're going to.

On a positive note: I loved living in the US and moving back there will stay one of my priorities until I'm back.

 

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What a terrible story you have to tell. Did you have to abandon all your belongings in the USA? You waited more than a year for your SA passport? 

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[at]Superkruz

I have no idea where most of what I had at the time, is anymore. When I eventually go back, I will have to start from scratch. 

 At least my photo albums are with one of my kids and the pictures are scanned.

Yes, SA took too long with my passport. 

Edited by Nettie

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I am surprised you were able to travel on a passport that expired 1 day after you arrived. Technically that means you travelled to SA, knowing that you would not have been able to depart from South Africa until you received a replacement passport...

So that is a big risk you took in the first place, but not knowing your circumstances, I am not judging. Sorry that it did not work out for you. Hopefully others learn from your situation. 

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I find it crazy that you were in SA and did not manage to get a passport for so long... yes home affairs can be incompetent but making a few phone calls, going higher as you need to, should certainly have solved it in less than a year? I would have camped out on DHA steps in Pretoria! 

also not wanting to judge but honestly the bigger lesson to learn from this story is not that you should get a re-entry permit sorted every time before you travel, but to make sure you have a passport application in progress well before your current passport expires. I guess this is why the SB1 visa was refused too, I presume they thought the situation was preventable. 

anyway good luck and hope you get back to the US somehow one day.

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3 hours ago, Nettie said:

[at]Superkruz

I have no idea where most of what I had at the time, is anymore. When I eventually go back, I will have to start from scratch. 

 At least my photo albums are with one of my kids and the pictures are scanned.

Yes, SA took too long with my passport. 

It sounds like you had no option but to abandon all your earthly possessions... that awful.

I'm confused - You said you lived in the USA, your profile says you're in Canada, but I get the impression that you're in SA??

Edited by Superkruz

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From SA, we first moved to Canada, then the US. In total we were out of SA for 13 years. I'm back in Canada now.

Edited by Nettie

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1 hour ago, SJ272 said:

I find it crazy that you were in SA and did not manage to get a passport for so long... yes home affairs can be incompetent but making a few phone calls, going higher as you need to, should certainly have solved it in less than a year? I would have camped out on DHA steps in Pretoria! 

Believe me, I tried. It was an uphill battle. I even knew someone who knew someone and they couldn't help. When the employees from Homeland Affairs dig their heels in, there's nothing you can do. In some cases, I got the impression that they wanted a bribe to proceed, but I wasn't going to take that chance.

Even when I applied for a temporary SA passport, they never submitted it. When I went to the office and asked why it wasn't  "in the system", they first told me it was already picked up and after a lot of insisting, someone found my application in a box under a desk, which was never submitted. In another case, they kept on telling me that the machine that captures the photos wasn't working. 

- I am a very private person but posted this as an attempt to let others know how important it is to have your documentation in order before travelling.-

Edited by Nettie

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25 minutes ago, Nettie said:

Believe me, I tried. It was an uphill battle. I even knew someone who knew someone and they couldn't help. When the employees from Homeland Affairs dig their heels in, there's nothing you can do. In some cases, I got the impression that they wanted a bribe to proceed, but I wasn't going to take that chance.

Even when I applied for a temporary SA passport, they never submitted it. When I went to the office and asked why it wasn't  "in the system", they first told me it was already picked up and after a lot of insisting, someone found my application in a box under a desk, which was never submitted. In another case, they kept on telling me that the machine that captures the photos wasn't working. 

- I am a very private person but posted this as an attempt to let others know how important it is to have your documentation in order before travelling.-

Sounds like very strange stuff happened to you. Why wouldn't they have submitted a temporary passport application and put it under a desk? And then why didn't you get a temp passport after it was found? When we didn't get my one kid's unabridged birth after 2 months, I emailed both the regional manager and the minister's office (and no, I didn't know anyone, it was like cold calling, and I got a response from BOTH of them within a day, in fact one within the hour, and had the birth certificate the next working day.

 

 I've come across plenty of incompetence and arrogance at home affairs for sure, hence why I took my issue further up, but your story sounds really extreme  in what you seem to have  faced with time issues and other applications disappearing and hostile employees. 

 

and I totally agree that you should have documentation in order before traveling, but again the most critical thing is having an unexpired passport. Apart from anything else, when you're living somewhere else from relatives you never know when you might need to urgently travel and some airlines that you use to connect won't let you travel with a less than six months to expiry passport even if your final destination doesn't need it. So my suggestion would be to never have a passport with less than six months on it.

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The strangeness hasn't stopped. I have been waiting since Jan of 2016 for my children's unabridged birth certificates. I have contacted the Embassy where I submitted the forms and paid, several times, sent emails back and forth to them and government officials in South Africa, called South Africa, but I haven't been able to get some answer.

I remember when I applied for the passport that there was an online link where you could follow your application. Does anyone have that link and would you please post it so that I can look it up. I don't know if that would be possible because I don't have a case number yet. I just sent out more emails this week to various persons and just submitted another query on the Dept of HA's website.

Thank you.

Edited by Nettie

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Nettie, the online status check has been suspended indefinitely (I noticed this about a week ago, when thinking to check on my own passport application).  The link is:  http://www.home-affairs.gov.za/status/Status.html

You can still check using SMS - but only from SA - so if you have someone there, they could potentially check for you?  Birth certificates are not, however one of the options (you can check on ID, passport, marital status, living status (!) or check if you have a duplicate ID nr).

 

Edited by Malamute
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Hi Nettie.  From our experience, my son's unabridged was already loaded (he is 10), so Home Affairs have started loading them by year.  When we applied for passports they printed his out on the spot.  Ours on the other hand, after waiting for 5 months, only came out after we paid Michelle (details you have).  I do think in your situation it would be best to make use of her services seeing as you have many Home Affairs issues.  Trust me, if she cannot do it, it cannot be done.  Good luck.

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When I lived in Australia, and was an active member of SAAustralia, there was a lady in Pretoria who would get unabridged certificates within something like two weeks. She was very reliable and many people on the forum used her services, and rated her highly. She charged a fee for these services. If I were in your shoes, I would get hold of someone who provides these kind of services to ensure it gets done.

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10 hours ago, Superkruz said:

When I lived in Australia, and was an active member of SAAustralia, there was a lady in Pretoria who would get unabridged certificates within something like two weeks. She was very reliable and many people on the forum used her services, and rated her highly. She charged a fee for these services. If I were in your shoes, I would get hold of someone who provides these kind of services to ensure it gets done.

Of course part of that fee goes to whatever home affairs official she has an "in" with to get the stuff done quickly ... this is how it works.  And the normal people go to the back of the queue. Sigh.

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