During our last minute trip to the US last week I was having these confusing moments several times a day.
Which country am I in?
What side of the road am I supposed to be on?
What country did I leave my keys in?
Which wallet with what kind of money am I supposed to have?
Which language do I greet people with?
We came to Houston from England in order to deal with Brazilian visa documentation. I had all three countries on my mind, and dealt with people and government offices for all three while we were there.
This international life is so amazing in so many ways, and I am so lucky to have the opportunity to live it, but it is not easy. I know I’ve said that before, but the challenges keep popping up in different ways and always seem to catch us off guard.
We’re in the process of getting our visas to move to Brazil. Brian’s company has hired an attorney in Brazil to take care of the process for us because it is a bureaucratic nightmare that just can’t be done without help. It’s taken her several months so far to get his work status approved, so we were excited to finally get that email which let us know that we could go down to the London consulate the next day to submit our passports.
But what was this? Bring our documents with us? What documents are you referring to?
We were all under the impression that she had all the documents she needed. As it turns out, there is a whole list of things we should have been preparing by ourselves in order to be ready, and nobody ever told us.
On the list: Certified copies of both our birth certificates, our marriage license, and background checks for any country we’ve lived in for the past two years (that would be three if you’re counting). All of these documents then need to be legalized by the respective Brazilian consulates which have jurisdiction over the location where they originated. That means my birth certificate had to go to the San Francisco consulate, our marriage certificate had to go to the Miami consulate and our Houston background checks had to go to the Houston consulate.
And because we have our belongings spread among the three countries already, we had to order new copies of everything. The only certified copies of anything that we could actually find were our divorce decrees. I think the rest might be in Brazil.
Did I mention that the Houston background checks can only be obtained if you show up in person with your ID?
Thus the last minute trip.
We also, just to be on the safer and more prepared side, have ordered certified copies of my first marriage certificate and have sent it to the Los Angeles consulate for legalization, and certified copies of both of our divorce decrees which we legalized at the Houston consulate as well. I think they’ll need to see a paper trail of how my name changed from my birth name, to my first married name, to my current and final name which is on my passport.
And now we wait. We’ve gathered everything we (think) we need (but are still waiting for Brian’s new certified birth certificate) and all of it has been sent to the various consulates. Once it’s all legalized with the pretty Brazilian stickers on the back we’ll bring it all back to the London consulate and wish upon a star that the most-unhelpful clerk is in a good mood. Maybe I should bring him some cookies. Or a caipirinha.