Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Every year, I get a flight to Milwaukee for my family and me paid for by my college. Because we booked early, we were able to stretch the money to pay for flights to Wisconsin, then flights to Fukuoka, Japan, back to Wisconsin and back to Abu Dhabi. The catch seems to be proving that my wife and kids are indeed my wife and kids and not just some elaborate scam to get money from my place of employment.
Last year around this time we had a headache trying to get the necessary documentation together to get my wife and kids sponsored. It seems that apart from St. Rita's Parish in West Allis, Wisconsin, no documentation of my marriage exists in the U.S. To add to the headache, both my kids were born outside the U.S. in Fukuoka, Japan. I was smart enough to get the "Consular Report of Birth Abroad" from the U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka, Japan. Unfortunately, I found that the U.S. State Department wouldn't accept this as a birth certificate even though they were the ones that issued it.
After messing around with the U.S. government for a month or two, we decided to try our luck with the Japanese government and my wife's family register that includes our marriage and both kids' birth records. Despite my initial hesitancy of dealing with the Japanese bureaucracy, we were pleasantly surprised at how easy they were to deal with. We got the paperwork in time to apply for everyone's entry visa in August and were able to apply for their residency within a month of arriving here. This is where things start to break down.
Suddenly, my kids' school said that the Ministry of Education need proof that the kids are mine and here legally. Logic would dictate that copies of the kids' visas would be enough for that because the visas show that they have already gone through the process. No so. The Ministry of Education wanted not copies, but original attested copies of birth certificates and they wanted an official English to English translation. They also had a recommendation of a great place that could do the translation for for a fee. Fine. We needed to keep our kids in school so we decided to jump through the hoops.
That was a few months ago and we haven't gotten our paperwork back. Earlier this week, I went to my employer's web page to apply for my travel money and saw that my family's names weren't on the page. When I inquired about this, I was told they needed to see attested birth certificates and marriage licence (never mind that they saw all that when they applied for the visas). When I told the staff where it was, I was reprimanded for being stupid enough to give the original copies to a government agency when they said they needed it so my kids could attend school.
With that, my wife began the process of getting new paperwork from Japan. Fortunately, I don't think that will be necessary. When I contacted the school, I was able to get what I think is the original paperwork translated and attested (it was nice of them to sit on it for us). Hopefully when I go in to work tomorrow, it will be what Human Resources is looking for and I'll be able to apply for our ticket fares for Milwaukee.