It’s now been 21 days since we received the ITA for PR, but we are still waiting around for the last few required documents so we can submit the complete application.
Well, technically, it’s just one required document: my South African police clearance certificate. Getting the bank balance statement is not too difficult (although it still irks me that I have to pay 50 AED just to show my current balance), and neither is getting the bank transactions’ statements for the past 6 months – now – since I have resigned myself to the fact that I will have to submit bank statements with all my transactions listed. Like, whatever.
Okay, so here’s why I’m still waiting around for my police clearance certificate from South Africa.
As I mentioned before, we had expected the SAPS to take at least 4 – 6 weeks to issue the clearance certificates. But amazingly, the SAPS had issued both Z’s and my certificates within a week of receiving our fingerprints and ID documents – on 5 August 2018 (documents and fingerprints had been delivered via DHL on 28 July). *Shock and Amazement* at the speed of the SAPS. I stand corrected as to their efficiency.
Well, this should have been great news, right? We were getting on. Wrong.
So since the delivery was being picked up from South Africa, my dad had to go to the DHL office there to book the service (it was too complicated to try and book the service from here). But when my dad went to the DHL office to have the certificates picked up and couriered to me, they told him that they could not pick up our certificates from the SAPS, because this was no longer allowed by the SAPS due to security issues.
First reaction: What the… SAPS? How am I supposed to get the certificates all the way from South Africa to the UAE, then? Second reaction: I knew things were going too well; something was bound to get messed up somewhere, and this was it. Third reaction: No wait, I was being Zen and practicing sabr; I can figure something out.
So I emailed the SAPS, explaining what my dad had been told by DHL, and asked them to provide me an alternative to collecting our certificates, because no way I was going to fly all the way to Pretoria to collect these things. SAPS replied back 2 days later and said, overseas applicants (like me) could still have their certificates picked up and couriered to them by a courier company.
So why in the world did my until-now-very-reliable-courier-service DHL say otherwise? All right then, if DHL wouldn’t do it, I would find another courier company that would. FedEx and UPS were both too expensive, so in the end I went with Aramex. My dad went to the Aramex offices on 8 August, and booked the service from Pretoria to Dubai.
As per Aramex’s shipment tracking page, the certificates were picked up from Pretoria on 10 August (9 August was a national holiday in South Africa), and arrived in Dubai on 11 August in the morning. And then it sat at their sorting facility for 2 days with no change in status. So on 13 August I phoned the Aramex call centre, to find out what was happening and when I could expect my documents to be delivered. I was put on hold for around 40 minutes, and then, when I finally got through to a representative, though he was very friendly and tried to be helpful, the best he could tell me was that I might expect them to deliver anytime the next day (which was Tuesday – 14 August) between 9am and 6pm.
Right, I could deal with that. As long as it got delivered.
Since now I least knew the South African police clearance certificates were soon to be in my hands, I told Z that we would go to the Al Barsha police station on Tuesday and apply for our UAE police clearance certificates.
But before we could do that, came the drama of the day.
I was teaching an IELTS training class from 6.30pm to 9pm on Monday. So I went in to the training institute around 5.30pm. At 6pm, I received from an Aramex delivery guy telling me he was at the apartment building, to deliver my documents. Whaaaaaaaaaaat??? I just confirmed that morning that they would not deliver until the next day, and now this delivery guy is telling me he is at my apartment building?? At 6pm?? Gaaahhhhhh.
I asked him if it was possible for him to come back the following day in the morning. Nope. Apparently not. His duty only started at 11am and his route brought him to the area we lived in the afternoon and not before. Seriously, dude? He suggested he leave my document under the mat in front of the door to my apartment. Say what? This wasn’t just some frivolous piece of paper; this was part of our vitally important requirements to ensure we could continue on our Maple Leaf Journey.
But what choice did I have at that time? So I said fine, go ahead, and prayed really hard that nobody decided to steal that package before we got home that evening. Alhumdulillah, no one did steal the package, and once we got home I eagerly opened it up to discover… there was just one police certificate in it – Z’s. I literally turned the envelope inside out looking for the other certificate. Z found this extremely hilarious (probably because it wasn’t his certificate that was missing), but to say I was beyond fuming was an understatement. Either the SAPS had messed up somewhere or Aramex had.
I immediately phoned my dad to let him know what had happend, and he said he will go to the Aramex offices the following morning (14 August) and see what could be done. He said he would also phone the SAPS to find out if my certificate was still with them or if (God forbid) Aramex had lost it. Thank you, abbu.
Please God let it be Aramex just having been stupid and not picked up both the certificates despite the blatantly CLEAR instructions to do so.
My entire night was spent stressing and being in a bad mood, and wondering if I should just decline the PR ITA (yes, you can do that) and then go back into the Express Entry pool and hope to get another invite in the next Express Entry draw.
The next morning brought back a ray of sunshine, however, as my dad informed me that he had spoken to both Aramex and the SAPS, and it was Aramex that had made the mistake, and my certificate was still at the SAPS. So Aramex offered to pick up and deliver my certificate free of charge (it should be delivered by Sunday 19 August, but we will see.). Good thing, too. Otherwise, bad things would have happend.
End of drama. For now. Yay.
Ahem. Let’s get back to the UAE police clearance certificates.
As per the Dubai Police website, it would take 3 – 5 days to issue. It also said we needed to go to the police station to give our fingerprints, and that we needed to have our Emirates IDs plus one picture each, with a white background. Once the certificate was issued, it would be emailed to us. Simple enough.
Now, this is what actually happend once we went to the Al Barsha police station.
As always, we went in the morning since we both prefer to do these official things when the place is not crowded. Less waiting time and less people around. Usually.
When we told the officer at the reception that we needed to get our UAE police clearance certificates, the first thing he said was, Why didn’t you do it online? Well yes, I knew you had the option to apply for it online, BUT the website said we had to go to a police station for the fingerprints. No no, not needed. Okay…?
He directed us to a separate counter where we could apply for the certificates. So we went there, and waited for the guy ahead of us to finish. Once it was our turn, all that the official at the counter wanted from us were our Emirates IDs, and the fee. By the way, the fee is actually 255 AED per person, and not 220 AED. 200 AED for the certificate since we were expats, 20 AED for service charges, and 35 AED for… vitals? Or something. I wasn’t very sure what the extra 35 AED was for, since I missed what the official said because Z was already complaining about the extra costs piling up.
So no fingerprints required, no photos required, and the whole thing could have been done online. 😐
Anyway, the entire process took about 10 minutes. We were told to expect our certificates via email by Thursday or Sunday. As long as it was before the Eid ul Adha holidays (which start on Monday), I was happy.
Since we were told by all and sundry that these certificates take 3 – 5 days to get issued, I really wasn’t expecting anything until Thursday. But lo and behold, at 7pm that evening, we get the email with the first UAE police clearance certificate. And guess whose certificate it was? Yep, Z’s. He couldn’t stop smirking, especially since I had previously threatened to kill him if for some reason his police certificates didn’t come through. Grrr. Sometimes, he really can be quite insufferable.
Oh, well. Maybe it was God’s way of curbing my assumption that nothing could go wrong with my side of the application. Honestly though, I was happy for Z, and for us, and I just hoped that mine would come through soon as well. And it did. Early yesterday morning, at 7am, my UAE police clearance came through. Hooray.
So now, all that remains to be done before the big step of submitting the PR application, is getting my South African PCC, and the latest updated bank statements.
Here is hoping that we can submit that application by the end of August, in Sha Allah.