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Australia – The Most Unwelcoming Place on Earth

A foul mood set off by Australian bureaucracy (Candace)

Andrew’s mom arrived yesterday, and prior to her arrival, we had planned to tie up a number of loose ends as we round out our time in Bali and prepare for the last two weeks of our honeymoon. This included figuring out how to withdraw 9 million rupiah to pay our landlord for the month, getting an extension for our Bali visas and securing our Australian visas (we don’t need a visa for the Philippines, thank God.)

So, at 8:30 am, we packed up the car and set off for the Australian Embassy. You see, I tried applying for my visa online, but they asked the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” to which I had to respond, “Yes.” I was convicted of a DUI when I was 21, but didn’t see how this had anything to do with my ability to travel. Instantly, I was denied my automated visa and told to go to the embassy. We later learned that they are only concerned with convictions tied to 12 months of jail time or more, but they didn’t include any of this in the application.

When we arrived 40 minutes later, they told us that they don’t handle visas at the embassy anymore (since 2013), and that we’d have to go to a different office, near where we had started. Needless to say, Andrew was annoyed at the inefficiency of the morning, and I can’t blame him. It would have been nice to get this information online, when they denied my application, but this detail was conveniently missing.

Once we took our ticket and sat in line at the VFB office, a man told us that I had to fill out a paper visa request, that they would snail mail the request to Jakarta, and that it would take at least 15 working days to get an approval. When I explained that we are leaving prior to that time, they said there was nothing they could do to expedite my request. They then informed me that the cost for the paper visa was 5X the cost for the online application, and that I would need to include a bank statement showing I have funds to travel, but that they didn’t have a computer I could use to get this information, nor a printer to print it off.

I was furious at this point at the unhelpful nature of the transaction, so Andrew found an online service to help us. He completed the online app and we left the office, refusing to pay the inflated fee, then we set off for our other errands.

Later that day, my visa was declined again (Andrew’s was accepted), and we now don’t have enough time to get the paper visa through the process before leaving Bali. So it looks like I’m not going to Australia after all.

I’m extremely frustrated and wouldn’t recommend this process to anyone. Why on earth a country would make it so difficult for me to come spend my money, I have no idea. But I’ve certainly just taken Australia off my dream list.

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