I’ve had the good fortune and privilege to be able to travel, particularly out of the country, and to be honest, it’s been awesome to be able to visit the places that I’ve read about in books and online. And recently, I saw a retweet of something that’s been on my mind quite recently:
People born with passport privilege don't realize how much work/stress/anxiety it is for the rest of us to apply for visas every time we travel.— kamilah taylor ⚡️ (@kamilah) April 4, 2018
To be honest, I understand this completely, and it’s been a concern of mine quite recently. I’m in the process of uprooting myself and moving to a whole different country, and part of that means having to apply for a work visa. Admittedly, I’m applying for a visa that the company I’m joining is sponsoring me for, and they’re actually helping me in all of the details so everything is squared away, so to speak. However, as a Filipino, I still feel the same anxiety whenever I apply for a visa: the nagging doubts, the feeling that I’m a second-class citizen of the world, that I need to prove to that country’s consular officer that I won’t cut and run and stay illegally. Even in this case, where I’m being sponsored by a large multinational tech company, I still have that fear that my application will somehow be denied for some reason or other, and I’d have to reapply months later.
That fear and anxiety about my visa is partly why I haven’t yet told a lot of people about the news: I got a job in Sydney, and it’ll be amazing, etcetera, etcetera — what if I don’t get the visa? What if they take much longer to process my application, because I’m a Filipino? I mean, yes, rationally-speaking it’s unlikely that there will be a problem with my application, all things considered, but still: the fear is there, and it’s hard to fight millenia of human biology and evolution when it comes to our own irrationalities.
At every step of the process in my journey to get my work visa, I’ve had some irrational fear or other that something will go wrong, and I won’t fly out, and all of a sudden my good fortune will turn bad. I remember going into the required medical exam, suddenly feeling a bit of hypochondria: did I have some condition that I was unaware of, that would be the cause of my getting denied a visa? Of course I’m quite healthy, even if a bit unfit (I could probably exercise more and eat more healthily). But the fear was still there.
There’s also the time I went to the NBI the week before Holy Week to get my clearance— and I was told I had a hit on my name, and could I please come back after about two weeks. Those two weeks were a bit stressful, if not because again my fears were irrational, as they always are.
I also had to take an English proficiency exam: I admit, that one was fun, though I was a bit bummed out by one of my scores: I thought I should have scored higher. I passed though, and I wasn’t really concerned about getting a terrible score, so that was the least bit of stress on my part.
Then there was the fact that the visa category I was applying for (the Australian 457 visa) is in the process of being replaced with another category, with a different set of requirements.
And after all of this, I don’t yet have my visa. I still fear that there will be some sort of interview, and in that final hurdle I’ll be told I did not make the grade.
There’s also the time I applied for a US visa when I was twelve. I remember quite vividly the consul officer stamping my passport. “Maybe next time, kid.” The trip was supposed to be a grade school graduation gift from my mom, and I was going to accompany her. She was heading to the US on business, but we did have relatives in New Jersey — but I was told by my mom and my aunt to avoid mentioning them. But I was denied a visa. Maybe because the consular officer thought my mom had intentions of overstaying, of never coming back? Who knows?
I’m still hoping that things will work out though, because I am really excited to get my feet wet and start work. To be quite honest, it’ll be an entirely new experience for me, and I’ll be doing things I probably won’t be able to do any place else. More on that in another post.