The Importance of Being Earnest at SummerStage closed last night. Following a post-show group outing for eggplant fries, I was home by 12:30, laying awake in bed until 2, back up at 4 to the tune of a thunderstorm booming and splashing outside my window, before finally accepting sleep as a lost cause and getting out of bed at 7.
I attribute this sleepless exhaustion to a number of factors, chief among them my brain’s current unwillingness to stop replaying the first half of the first line of Formation on a loop, and its apparent address-this-now! concern that I’m going to forget to update my auto insurance before I leave for Cape Town on July 19th.
It’s gonna be a long day.
As I seek to fill time until I’m literally so tired I have no choice but to collapse, below are two things I had to take care of for my upcoming travels which I thought I’d share here with links and contact numbers for others Googling the issue for details.
#1: South Africa Work Visa Requirement: FBI Identity History Summary Letter
One of the requirements for US citizens seeking international work visas is to contact the FBI for an “Identity History Summary” ($18) to prove you’re not a bad guy.
Per the Biometric Services Customer Service line which you can call for updates on your IHS request (304-625-5590, 8-5 EST), their turn-around time for processing these requests is 13-15 weeks. HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAhahahagross.
So, like, if you — just as a hypothetical example — got your fingerprints taken at the sheriff’s office on March 30th (Form FD-258, $10 in Waukesha), and mailed them with your IHS request to the FBI on March 31st, then called BSCS for an update on June 22, you could, hypothetically, be told your request is still being processed and to call back next week and then expect to wait at least another week for their response to arrive in the mail and you’ve still got to have time to take it with the rest of your visa paperwork to the consulate in Chicago before your departure on July 19th and you won’t have time for a return trip to Chicago if it turns out you missed something and oh my God this is cutting it close!!!
*wheeeeeeeeeeze pant pant pant*
Two of my take-aways from this so far:
– Follow the directions on the IHS letter request EXACTLY to avoid the risk of having your request rejected and having to start the process all over again, including getting your fingerprints re-taken as they don’t return the fingerprint card to you if they reject your request.
– No matter how long it may be until your departure date, don’t put anything off. Not something I didn’t already know, but I was certainly unprepared for just how long some of these steps could potentially take. I expected a month to be a common average wait time, but certainly not three to four months for a single copy of such a commonly requested document. (Or seven months for a series of vaccinations.) I started the process for this letter almost four months before my flight and I’m still going to be getting everything in just under the wire.
#2: South Africa Travel Requirements: Vaccinations
Another process I had to get an early start on was getting the necessary vaccinations. It is recommended that travelers to the area get vaccinated against Hep A and Hep B (which require follow up doses at the one-month mark, and a third Hep B shot at the six-month mark), and against Typhoid and Tetanus.
Your local availability options may differ, however here in Waukesha County residents can visit the Health and Human Services building without an appointment and request a vaccination for just about anything. Some of the more uncommon vaccines may have to be ordered, however when I went in, everything I needed was on hand.
Be prepared to drop a few bucks on this part of the process. Prices will vary depending on region, vaccine availability, etc., however for me the costs were as follows:
Hep A, part 1: $50
Hep B, part 1: $50
Hep B, part 2: $50
Tetanus* Booster: $8
*This was a T-dap shot, which is a vaccination that protects against Tetanus, as well as Diphtheria and Whooping Cough (pertussis). I also got an MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) booster while I was there because why not. Waukesha HHS keeps a ready supply of both on hand at $8 bucks a pop. When you go for your travel vaccinations, check to see what else is available and recommended for you. It may be cheaper than you expect, and $8 is a small price to pay for that sort of peace of mind.
Okay. It’s 9:45 am and I still can’t sleep. But at least my brain’s moved on to the chorus of Formation so I’ve got that going for me, which is zzzzzz………….