God Save the UK Border Agency

UPDATE: Just got the confirmation email! Visa approved! I still stand by everything I said below though.

Well, they’re at it again. Another government agency in charge of travel and immigration has managed to ruin another happy moment in my life. This time it’s the British who last night informed me that they have just started processing my visa (after I sent it in over 2 weeks ago). What’s more, they said it could take another 10 business days or more before they arrive at a decision. The problem? I leave next Saturday, which is less than 10 business days away. I already mentioned last time how ridiculous it is that I have to send my application to the LA office. What makes this story even better? The LA office is apparently the most backed up out of all three. The summer is supposed to be the busiest time because of all the students like me trying to get visas. However, the brilliant Brits in LA decided to shut down last week for IT upgrades. Great timing… Interestingly, the British government seems quite tech savvy. The UK consulate is on Twitter, and the office in charge of it all, the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office has a Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube channel as well as their own blog.

I have to give them some credit for their effort. Their use of social media is a lot more than what I can say for the U.S. government, although Obama is trying to change that. However, they’re falling into the same trap a lot of companies are falling into with the social media hype: it’s not going to help you if your product or service sucks. In this case, the UK’s visa process is terrible. It is¬†unnecessarily¬†complicated and backlogged and I’m not the only one who has experienced this as evidenced by this Facebook thread. Here’s a tip: why don’t you guys try to cut back on the social media and start doing your real job? So now, I sit around for the next week stressing and wondering if I will indeed be able to go to London next Saturday.

Of course, this is really all the U.S. government’s fault. If they hadn’t continuously delayed my attempt to become a U.S. citizen, none of this would have happened. I would have been able to apply for my visa way earlier with plenty of time to spare. Maybe it’s time to dig up that old Chinese passport again.

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