Some of you who take interest in my transatlantic journey know how I’m aspiring to become a fear-mongering/freedom-loving citizen of this wonderful land. And lately it seems that the only thing obstructing my goal, is US Immigration. This of course is a little like saying that the only thing standing in between you and a Nobel Price is your abnormally- low, Forrest-Gump-like IQ.
So today, I received a letter from Immigration telling me how I missed my interview appointment with them a few days ago, that I never knew I had. All because the letter with that information never reached me. I picked up the phone and called them to clear things up and reschedule another appointment.
The number provided was, as one might suspect, to a convoluted automated phone system with 543 menu options, none of which were in any way related to why I was calling. I randomly navigated around for a while and after having the phone system hang up on me 3 times, I finally managed to stumble my way through to a sub-sub-sub-sub-sub menu option closely resembling something that might be related to whatever it is I thought I might have been calling for, 10 hours earlier when I started dialing.
The automated voice at the other end instructed me to use the key pad on my phone to input my case number. I started typing.
Automated voice: “I’m sorry, not enough digits, try again”.
Hmph. Ok. I tried the number again.
AV: “I’m sorry, not enough digits, try again”.
Gaaah! Number, one more time.
AV: “I’m sorry, not enough digits. Goodbye!”
________ ______ _______ (insert words that make small children cry here, in the order of your own choosing).
I did this a few more times, and by pure accident typed in a number combination that got me through the menu system to a live human being. One with a pulse. Euphoria ensued. Below is our exchange.
Immigration Agent Person: Hi, how can I help you?
Me: Well, I guess I missed my appointment that I didn’t know I had. Can you help me reschedule it for another time?
IAP: It’s out of our jurisdiction, this matter is now handled by your local immigration office.
Me: Ok? Can I have their number?
IAP: No. You can’t contact them. They don’t take calls.
IAP: I can send them a request for them to consider rescheduling your appointment.
Me: Great! Please do. That’s what I want.
At this point the person proceeded to write down all my information. Literally ALL my information, as if my case file had been purged from their system.
Fast forward to what felt like very-close-to-forever later.
IAP: Sir, I’m going to put you on hold while I enter the information into our system.
Seriously. Why is this a two-step process?!! Why isn’t the person entering this information into the computer system to begin with. Were they writing things down on paper scrolls to then transmit them by smoke signal to a secretary?!! What kind of bottomless pit where my tax dollars being thrown into?!! I was now slowly starting to loose faith in humanity ….
(time went by as I was on hold)
IAP: Now, where was it that you’re interview was scheduled to take place?
Me: Eeeeh. I don’t know. It must have been in that letter I never received from you guys.
IAP: Well can you tell me what the closest local immigration office to you is?
Me: Isn’t this information that you can tell me? I don’t keep track of these things you know, can’t you look this up?
IAP: I’m going to put you on hold while I look that up.
(On hold again. Minutes later the phone call continues)
IAP: I will send a request to your local branch tomorrow.
Me: Ok. That sounds great. So, how can I check the status of this?
IAP: You can’t. You can’t call them.
Me: So how will I know about my appointment?
IAP: They’ll send you a letter.
(Sound of me banging my head against the wall)
9 replies on “Catch 22”
Fantastic! 😀 And some people complain about bureaucracy in Sweden. Spik i foten! I guess there’s some new hope now though. Better keep a good eye on the mailbox.
Good Luck Josef K!
Bureaucracy is the same in all countries it seems, just with different degrees of corruption.
Let’s hope they don’t make a habit of this . . .
Are they listed here? 🙂
Actually, I totally forgot about that site. I should have just gone there. They are listed there, and looking at it, it doesn’t look so hard to get a human. It just seems hard once you have to listen to all the menu options 5 times. 🙂
Note to self – make sure future UCIS letters make it all the way to your mailbox (befriend mailman)… or develop advance psychic capabilities to be able to show up at the right place at the right time – regardless of details such as an advance notice…
Yes, psychic capabilities would be nice. It’s just very frustrating trying to get something done here in the US. Even when it’s a privately held company. There’s always a wall of complex phone systems to get through before you can get someone on the phone that has the power to actually do something. This is of course their goal, to put up a high enough barrier so 99% of people who don’t have the patience give up and stop bothering them.
It’s the Department of Redundancy Department! Seriously, consider selling this as a screenplay. Your new career awaits!