Those Pesky Visas

Many of you knew that David wasn’t supposed to come back to the states and I was to return to Johannesburg on August 6. All of that changed when, one day, someone in the Johannesburg government decided to change the visa application process. When we arrived in Johannesburg, we entered the country on a 3 month tourist visa. We had the paperwork to apply for the required employment/resident visa and planned to submit it while there. This was the normal process that David’s company, AMEC, had done in the pass. While we were there, the laws changed requiring us to apply for the visas in our home country.

When I arrived home, I sent our fingerprints off to the FBI to get a background report which is part of the required paperwork. It takes a month for the report to be sent back. That worked perfectly as David was scheduled to arrive home around the same time that the background reports were due. The report for David arrived shortly after he did and his visa paperwork was submitted. My FBI report, on the other hand, did not happen as my fingerprints; which were taken in South Africa, were illegible.

I had to resubmit my fingerprints, I sent in 3 sets this time and am currently waiting for my background report.  The background report didn’t arrive in the expected timeframe so I started investigating to find out the reason why.  There was a post on the FBI website explaining that the they had recently installed a new computer program and that the glitches that they were experiencing will delay the background reports another 8-10 weeks.  I am not certain if that is added to the original month or including it.  Whatever the case, by the time I received the FBI report and then submitted for the South Africa visa, it will be the first of 2015 by the time I receive the visa.  David is supposed to be finished in the South African office sometime in December.  It was decided that I will return to Johannesburg on November 19th on a three-month tourist visa.  If David’s departure is delayed, that will be alright as I have to return to Maine in February to organize our papers to file our income tax.

If one of us had to be delayed, thank goodness it was me and not David! He enjoyed having 7 weeks off during the middle of summer but was really ready to get back to his project. He received his visa on Wednesday, Sept 10 and left for South Africa on Friday, Sept 12.

I know this is digressing a bit but I have to share about David’s trip back to the states before I continue on. When David left Saudi Arabia, for whatever reason, his exit paperwork was not done properly. It was necessary for him to return to Saudi to correct this issue or he might not be able to return to that country ever again. We had planned on making a short trip together so I could visit Saudi with him and meet Abdullah, a dear friend that David had met while on the project.

Unfortunately, with the new visa law, David had to make the trip, to Saudi, without me and made it on his return trip to the states. His flight itinerary was to leave Johannesburg on Friday, July 25 at 2:00 in the afternoon. He flew into Dubai and had a short layover before flying onto Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to have his exit visa processed properly at the airport. He was scheduled to be there for only 4 hours and then return to Dubai for another layover before flying to JFK and finally, Portland, ME. His arrival to Portland was for 11:00 AM on Sunday, July 27.



All went smoothly until he arrived in Jeddah. He thought that his paperwork had been processed properly and was trying to board the flight back to Dubai. The officials told him that he couldn’t get on the plane as his paperwork was still wrong. At this point, the people involved in helping him, had left and David was trying to figure out the issue on his own. Thank goodness for Abdullah!!!

I have to give you a brief background on Abdullah. He was raised as a Bedouin and through hard work and determination, he now owns several companies, a city and is very well-to-do. With all of this success, he remains a humble and kind person and he and David have developed a very close friendship/bond. I sincerely hope that one day, I will have the pleasure of meeting him.

As I was saying, thank goodness for Abdullah. David, in a panic, called Abdullah and said that the “powers that be” were not going to let him leave the country. Abdullah went straight to the airport, said a couple of things in Arabic to the “powers that be” and then told David, he could leave.

The line for security and boarding the plane was extremely long and David didn’t think he would make his flight. Again, Abdullah said something in Arabic and clapped his hands twice….everyone just parted. David said it was like Moses parting the Red Sea!!! David, with much embarrassment, walked to the front of the line and boarded the plane. Thank goodness for Abdullah!!! Who knows where David would be today if he had not been able to leave Saudi Arabia.

David arrived safely back in Dubai and was going through the check-in process for his next flight to JFK. The security there didn’t like that David had flown from Johannesburg, Dubai, Jeddah, back to Dubai and now was leaving for JFK in such a short period of time. Kudos for their security for zeroing on this. They took David aside and interrogated him for a while, cut open his sneaker to make certain he didn’t have any explosives on him and finally, when they were satisfied that his travels were work related, released him to fly to JFK. Gratefully, he arrived home, in Portland, Sunday, July 27th a couple of hours late but safe.

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