3 + 2(4)= 11 passports to renew, all at different times unfortunately
We are planning a trip to the US in April, and we've been working quite hard trying to get our permanent residency established and our two American-born children's passports back in order to go. That has required A LOT of paperwork--including letters from every school and doctor's surgery they've ever been to, with records of attendance and appointments. Considering they've been to six schools between them over the last six years, that was not the matter of a simple phone call.
So in the midst of all this we realized that the American passport of Second Eldest Daughter, who was born in the UK, had expired. Hence an urgently-booked trip to the American Embassy in London to deal with it.
Cue the 4am wakeup to make a 9:30 appointment in London, and then the endless bureaucracy of getting into the American Embassy, which is on par with Fort Knox, and understandably so. We queued in the line for non-US visas for ten minutes just to get in the building before we realized we were in the wrong line.
Then many more lines, for security, to enter the Citizen Services area, to register in the Citizen Services area, to pay for the passport, to pay for the courier envelope, to hand in the application, and finally, finally, the last line to approve the application. Two hours later we emerged, blinking and dazed, into Grosvenor Square.
But I will say everyone was very efficient and friendly, far more so than the last time we had to go to the Embassy in London (we usually go to the far smaller Consulate in Edinburgh), which was in November 2001, and let me say, it felt like you were entering a maximum-security prison, and you were a prisoner. Understandably.
And despite the many hoops we've had to jump through lately, not to mention the many cheques we've had to write, I'm very grateful that we have the opportunity to live in the UK as US citizens, especially when I consider the state of immigration today.
Two days after the Brexit vote my husband and I were sitting in the visa office in Solihull with about 20 other immigrants applying for permanent residency. We all sat there quietly with our applications on our laps--hundreds of pages of paperwork showing the jobs we've had, the taxes we've paid, the fact that we are not eligible for any government benefits, such as child benefit, while employed in the UK--while a large-screen TV blared experts' opinions on the Brexit vote and the immigration 'problem'.
It was incredibly poignant and sad to sit there with polite, gainfully employed non-UK citizens who have added so much to this country and listen to people on TV describing how we're all a problem. The immigration system isn't perfect in any country, and of course it can be abused. But it is a wonderful, wonderful thing for many people, including me.
The last thing I will mention is that all the people working in the visa office, some of them immigrants themselves, were incredibly polite, friendly, and efficient. It made the laborious process much, much more pleasant!