Being an immigrant is not a walk in the park as some would think. The hurdles we have to go through to be able to stay afloat in a place so alien to us sometimes feel insurmountable but we do what we gotta do: SURVIVE. Imagine the culture shock we experienced as soon as we set foot on foreign land. How about the the language barrier, not to mention the homesickness and the physical and mental adjustments we went through and even going through but for the sake of whatever reasons why we’re in another country, we are trying our damnedest to survive and live as if we fully belong.
Personally, to be fair, I can say that I am doing good despite the challenges I encountered over a couple of years since I arrived here in England. I credit this to the fact that I have a great family support from my husband and his family members. Professionally, I am quite thriving and now that at least I have my goals set, I feel I have a beacon which makes me feel I am on solid ground.
Anyway, let’s talk about one of the challenges that came my way which made me really feel antsy. It’s all about my passport renewal which got delayed because of mainly two reasons: pandemic and unforeseen glitches with the Department of Foreign Affairs.
My Philippine passport validity expired last July 2020 but I was booked to have my renewal on the 15th of October same year. Of course because of the pandemic, things got a bit out of hand. Most especially for me, I had struggled with my passport renewal as my original passport renewal appointment did not end well because I found out my name was on the hit list of the Department of Foreign Affairs – Philippines. Great! I was asked by the Embassy staff if I had an active case back in the Philippines or something to warrant my name to be on the list. I told them the only thing I can remember is that when I first applied for my passport in the Philippines, it was also not straightforward as I also had to wait for a couple of weeks so the National Bureau of Investigation could clear my name from the hit list. It turned out I had a namesake who had an active case in court. I told the Embassy staff in London that it would be impossible for me to get out of the Philippines without the Bureau of Immigration holding me up at the airport if I had a court case or an outstanding arrest warrant. (Was I being overly dramatic? lol) But anyway, the Embassy staff told me I had to wait until my name’s cleared by the Department of Foreign Affairs before they could resume with my passport renewal. Alright, fair enough. My husband and I went back home with our wings clipped as a failure to renew my passport entailed a wide array of concerns especially I am to renew my spouse visa this July 2021. There’s a silver lining though as the Embassy staff told me I didn’t need to book an appointment again to have my biometric as they would accommodate me as soon as my name got cleared and the lockdown’s lifted. Can you imagine the worry I had to endure? Can you blame me if my anxiety was off the roof and probably I was on my way to having a situational depression. That is if I hadn’t already?
After a couple of months of waiting, I chased my case at the Embassy. I really appreciate though how accommodating the Embassy staff were. Every time I emailed them, they never failed to reply back. I had the decision regarding my case last December 2020. I was told that the reason why my name’s on the hit list was because of the circumstances surrounding my birth certificate. Did I mention that in order for me to be able to be issued a passport, I had to get my birth certificate sorted out first. And by saying getting it sorted out, it was to correct my gender on the record. I was unfortunately penned as a “MALE” by the midwife who assisted my mum at the hospital during childbirth. Yeah, I know. The legal and administrative processes were such a pain not to mention expensive but I got the corrected birth certificate in the end anyway.
When I received the good news that my name’s not on the hit list anymore, lockdown once again happened and then another one. I got very worried as my spouse visa expires in August and I have to apply for my visa extension in July. One of the requirements of course is an active and not expired (lol) passport. Finally, when lockdown was lifted the last week of March, I was able to contact the Embassy again and able to make an appointment for the renewal. Relief! Relief! Relief!
I am going to walk you through the step by step process on how to apply for the renewal and the requirements that you need to prepare. Here are the details for your information.
DISCLAIMER: My experience might be different from others. This is just a guide for you.
HOW TO APPLY ONLINE and WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS NEEDED:
- Make an appointment for your biometric using this link: VFS : Registered Login (vfsglobal.com). Good luck with the date availability though. As of writing, the earliest date available according to the website is the 28th of June 2022. But don’t fret much as you can always check the website for any earlier available dates as loads are cancelling their appointments.
2. Once you’re done with the online registration, you will receive an appointment confirmation email from the embassy regarding the details of your application and attached to it is the appointment letter which you need to print because they’re going to check it before you’re allowed to enter the embassy. (You still can show them digitally by using your phone but if you could just print it, makes life easier. 😉 )
3. Prepare all the requirements. Here is the list:
- Accomplished passport application form. Download here.
- Photocopy of the data page of your passport.
- Print out of your confirmed appointment letter as shown above.
- Self-addressed, stamped, registered special delivery envelope (with tracking). Check the images below for your information.
- Any other requirements which are needed under your circumstances, e.g. PSA marriage certificate, PSA birth certificate, etc.
- Bring with you your own black inked pen, pretty please!
- £55 application fee which is payable only through debit/credit card.
WHAT TO DO ON THE DAY OF YOUR APPOINTMENT:
- Wear something casual. No sleeveless top, shorts, or slippers. Don’t forget your mask.
- Make sure you have all the requirements with you before you leave for the Embassy.
- Arrive at the Embassy at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
- Be prepared to show the staff at the door your appointment letter for confirmation purposes.
- The staff will check your temperature and will ask you to use the hand sanitiser before you are fully allowed entrance to the main reception.
- Once you’re in the reception, wait until you’re called by the staff. Hand in all your prepared documents/requirements. The staff will check your documents making sure nothing’s amiss.
- If everything is good to go, you will be asked to pay the application fee at the cashier’s. Due to COVID restrictions, they only accept card payments so get ready to pay by card.
- Once you’ve paid, you will then be instructed to go to the biometric room where another staff is there to take your biometrics (finger printing, passport picture taking and signature). Make sure you take your earrings, necklace, and eyewear off. If you have fringes, you will asked politely to have it to the sides as the photo needs to show your forehead and ears. For males with long hair, you will be asked to have it in a ponytail. You can smile while the photo is being taken but you can’t have your teeth showing. Just give that coy smile you have. 😀
- Tada! That’s it done!
Before I end this super long blog of mine, I just want to touch the issue about my worry of WHAT IF MY PASSPORT DIDN’T ARRIVE BEFORE I HAVE MY SPOUSE VISA APPLICATION DATE? I was told by the staff at the Embassy that I could actually request for a letter from them stating that I already had my passport renewal biometric and is just awaiting the issuance of my new passport. And for that matter, I was asked to pay for a fee of £23 and fill out a form. I was also requested to submit another photocopy of the data page of my passport and a self-addressed, stamped, registered mail envelope (same envelope as described above) for them to mail me the letter. Take a look at the images below:
I am really hoping my experience and some tips I have mentioned in here will help you and guide you.
All the best!