Thursday, August 25, 2011

Just as I thought I was getting somewhere..............

I am currently on hold to speak to a commissioner at the British High Commission in Barbados and thought I would pass the time by sharing with you, the people of the internet, the exciting time I've had today!

For the past few days I have been gathering the documents I need in order to apply to obtain immigration status in Barbados. After locating my birth certificate (and identifying that I am not in fact married and therefore don't need a marriage certificate) I gave myself a congratulatory pat on the back for doing so well :)

Armed with a slightly smug sense of self-satisfaction I went in search of the certificate of character that I needed from the police. Considering the experience I have gathered over the past few months I should have known better than to assume that this task would be anything less than painfully difficult and slow.

I made the assumption that I would  need to contact the Criminal Records Bureau. I spoke to an unusually helpful man who told me that I would need a Subject Access Request which was provided by my local police station. Knowing that it would be futile to visit my local police station (what with it being closed most days, often to include days when it's supposed to be open) I decided to poke around on their website.

This website had 2 forms on it but I was unable to decipher from the descriptions of each form which was the right one! Sooooooo I decided to call the helpline where I was directed to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) website where I found a form called ACRO!! I was excited because I thought I'd found what I was looking for with basically no trouble at all but sadly this was not the case.

I noticed at the top of this form, a list of countries that accepted it for the purpose of visa applications. Barbados was not listed here. I asked the helpful man if he had information about other countries that might accept this form. He did not.

He told me to call the Barbados High Commission.

This made me sad. :(

So far I have not received particularly helpful information from the people at the Barbados High Commission. I decided I would skip on calling them until I absolutely HAD to, and instead called the Barbados Immigration Dept. I got static twice and couldn't speak to anyone so I gave up.

Begrudgingly I called the Barbados High Commission and told the woman who answered the phone what I needed. The conversation went like this,

Me: Hi, I'm applying for immigration status in Barbados and I'm trying to confirm that the police certificate I have here from the ACPO is recognised in Barbados as a suitable character reference.

Her: don't know about that. What are you trying to do?

Me: *slightly enraged but holding it together* I'm applying for immigration status in Barbados and need a character reference from the police. I have one but need to know if it's the right one.

Her: ..........I can't deal with that here, I'll put you through to someone who can....... holding for phone person number 2..............

Me: *explaining the same thing I explained to phone person number one*

Him: Did you just get transferred here??

Me *still trying to hold back angry explosive shouting* ......yes

Him: Well we don't deal with that here

Me: *rapidly turning red and steaming at the ears*

Him: Let me transfer you to the department that deals with that...........

..............holding for phone person number 3.............

Me: *reciting my request for the third time*

Her: I wouldn't know what form you need

Me: .................Thank you, you've been very helpful *click*

Having no success there I decided to call the British High Commission in Barbados who seemed to have more information. I spoke to a helpful person who put me through to someone else who was supposed to be helpful. This second supposedly helpful person was not in her office........

So I drank some tea and decided to get back to it later.

After about an hour I called the British High Commission again and was transferred to a person who I was assured would be able to help me. This person could not.

I was told to call the Barbados Immigration Department.

I hadn't been able to reach anyone there the in the 7 times I'd called since yesterday (this is not an exaggeration) so I was less than impressed at having to do it again.

Miraculously someone answered and gave me the direct line of some all knowing super being that could answer ALL my question and who WOULDN'T put me on hold or use the words 'well I ain't really know bout dat, you wud haff tuh aks *insert name of magical immigration elf here*'

This person/ magical immigration elf told me that as long as the certificate can confirm my criminal record (or lack there of) it would be a suitable form of character reference.

I think the lesson here is BE PERSISTENT!!!

I can now confirm for anyone who might be wondering (or about to embark on a lengthily telephone adventure) that THIS IS THE FORM you need to fill in if you live in the UK and need a certificate of character reference from the police!! I annoyed that I spent the better part of today trying to confirm something that I was 90% sure of to begin with? YES!

Is it better to be safe than sorry? I think so! :)

Have I saved anyone else the trouble? You tell me!!!

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