Yes that is me saying a very very bad word. Several of them actually. I have to vent here because I have been unable to sleep for so many nights now, I thought perhaps complaining in here might help relieve my brain a little bit more.
I am SO sick of all the changes in various govt programs and having to wade through the mire while trying to get things done. This particular issue centers around getting my oldest son's passport renewal. This is something that I have done 3 times now (including his first one) and had NO problems in the past (as in, received on time, etc) but now things are going haywire and I think I'm about to end up with an ulcer and a hernia from the stress and anxiety and FRUSTRATION.
You see, my son was born in England while I was living there for a couple of years. I moved back to Canada with him when he was 9 months old and he has been here ever since. I have run into slight issues in the past when traveling with him overseas to visit his father because the initial customs folk would see my Canadian passport and his British one and then request uber amounts of documents proving that I am allowed to bring him into the country. That's fine, I always carry them with me when traveling anyway (notarized letters, divorce and custody papers, etc). They always send me to the longggg customs line up and when I finally get to the desk, that official always sends us through immediately because I am Canadian and by extension, so is my son.
I have had conflicting information over the years from various Customs and Immigration officials (oh gee - surprised? A govt organization giving out completely conflicting info? NO! That cannot be!! lol)... going from one saying that Canada does not allow Dual Citizenship with ANY country and I would have to formally recind his british citizenship before being to apply for Canadian on his behalf - even though at that exact moment I was staring at a webpage on the official Immigration website that listed dozens of countries under a heading saying Allows Dual Citizenship With..... lol.
Then I have been told that I do not have to worry about any of that, just to make sure I have other documents like my birth certificate, his birth certificate, etc while traveling.... Then I have been told that he has to be listed as a Permanent Resident and have a special card... then I have been told that he is NOT a 'Permanent Resident, he is considered Canadian due to my birthplace as well as him being naturalized for the past 13 years straight'. blah blah.
Basically a total nightmare so I have always just kept his British passport as his main form of travel ID. I would send off to the British High Commission in Ottawa for the renewal every 5 years and all was well.
Until now. Sometime since 2006, the UK decided to 'streamline' it's passport application system and now everyone outside of Britian has to send their application to the British Embassy in Washington DC. Now begins my nightmare.
A renewal is only supposed to take 4 weeks. They received the application on March 11 and it is still 'in processing'. I waited past the suggested time of 20 working days past the application's received date before phoning - only to find that the ONLY numbers you can call are premium rate and done by a company IN the united kingdom, and cost $3 per minute.
Yes.... I call the number and am ON HOLD for over 20 minutes before speaking to a human. The call cost me $60 before I even got started. This is very distressing to me. I already forked out $152 for the application (almost 4 times the cost of a Canadian Child Passport), $25 for the courier fee, and now I am forking out well over a hundred dollars so far for phone calls that are not getting me anywhere.
I have been almost sick about this because my son's flight is in 6 weeks. He is going to visit his dad for a month. This is something I fully support and am glad about because so many parents out there do not get along and one parent leaves into the sunset and the child is left blaming himself. I refuse to do that so I heavily support any and all time they get to spend together - but now this and $1800 in flight costs (paid by his father), and several hundred in costs to me for all this muck, is in trouble.
I have tried 3 other ways to contact the Embassy so far but each time I am given the message that the ONLY way to reach them is to call those ridiculous phone numbers that cost so much. The line that costs 69p plus VAT is by credit card only, the premium line comes on your phone bill. Eenie Meenie Minie Moe... which bill will I rack up today while trying to find out why my son's passport application seems to be stalled for 10 11 12 weeks.
But really, my frustration is over this whole system all together. You have to practically beat your own brains out to try to manouver around any govt program these days, whether it is Worker's Comp, EI, Retirement, Citizenship, Immigration, etc. And yet people want even MORE govt programs brought in? Are you freaking kidding me? I have been through the gambit in many different situations but this one takes the cake.
I cannot stand being alone when it's quiet at night time because my gut instantly turns inside out and I feel the anxiety pains rising because I feel completely out of control of this situation. They have MY money and MY original documents in their possession and I cannot find anyone who is willing to answer the simplest of questions. It is frustrating. No wonder it drives some people to drink or worse. Seriously.
I attempted to get my son a Canadian passport instead, because all these years customs officials kept telling me he IS Canadian... but I come to find that I need a special 'certificate of citizenship' first, that costs $75 and needs completely different sized photos which were another added cost of course - and this can take 10 MONTHS to complete unless they agree to an Urgency request via a letter I am supposed to include.... What takes 10 months to look at my original birth certificate, look at my son's, look at his Alberta Health Care card and know it was requested in the second week of May 1998, his school education number that shows he has been schooled in Canada every single year and is completing Grade 8 right now.... why would it take 10 months to do that? When I am the one who has to send in all these documents and they dont even have to look them up? Oh yeah - it's because it's a govt program.
I am going to attempt to call the British High Commission in Ottawa to see if they have any advice or pull, and see if I can contact the Embassy in Washington on their direct line for the same. But I am not holding my breath. Each time I call the crazy cost number, I am told it is still in processing and to call back 'in a couple of weeks'. How many times do I have to do that when I need this thing done, mailed back to me, etc in under 5 weeks? I am at a loss over what to do and it just makes me livid. As with everything else these days, the costs go up but the service goes down - and it effects people's lives but the govt doesnt take that into account. They hear all these sob stories every day and lose their ability for apathy and concern. But hey - let's just keep all that going and add even more programs all the time, because surely the govt has proven itself to be so good at their other responsibilities.
PS - I will not be able to get a Canadian passport in time for my son's flight so if the british one does not show up, I have no idea what we are going to do.