Saturday, February 26, 2005

Odd man out

I'm not even sure I should post this but I'll take the chance.

As you know, I have an appointment with BCIS next Friday. That's their new acronym - the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services but most people would still think of them as INS, Immigration and Naturalisation Service. I have to take along three photos of myself taken to VERY precise specifications. If the photo's not exactly right you're liable to have to make another appointment and bring along new photos. Given that I'm going back to Dallas on Sunday and returning about 10 hours before the appointment (during which 10 hours I hope to get some sleep) it seemed like a good idea to get those photos today.

My wife told me that I could get the ADIT photos (no, I don't know what ADIT stands for) at the local UPS store. So there I went; but they don't do that kind of photo anymore - BCIS specs are difficult to get right. Ok, next stop Kinkos. They also don't do them anymore; BCIS specs are difficult to get right.

Ok, I'm seeing a pattern here. So then I bethought to myself that I could kill two birds with one stone. I don't know where the BCIS office is so it's probably a good idea to find it and it's likely there'll be at least one business nearby that does know how to make photos to BCIS specs.

Good plan! I knew the address, 2035 Central. I had no idea where the 2000 block is but it seemed reasonable to drive to Camelback, go west toward Central and then drive down there to the 2000 block. Uh nope; you can't do a left from Camelback onto Central. It's not one way there; they just don't want anyone other than buses doing left turns. So I drove a little further, to 7th Avenue and did the left. Drove along there a ways (I hope you're enjoying my Amerispeak ) until I found the 2000 block. I kept going just a little further until I hit MacDowell which is about the 1600 block. Did a left turn there and came back toward Central. Uh huh - I might have known it. You can't do a left turn onto Central from MacDowell. So I kept driving and turned left on (I think) 3rd Avenue. Went up to Virginia (I think it's the 2600 block) and eventually got onto Central. At the 2200 block I saw a rather imposing sign 'Immigration and Naturalization Fotos' sic. So I parked there and went in search of the photo.

There were maybe 20 people in the waiting room. No reception area; just a door that said 'Staff Only'. A bell had rung when I opened the door so I assumed (correctly) that someone would appear. I took a seat and waited. A minute or so passes and someone came to the Staff Only door, singles me out and asks what I want. Photos for my greencard renewal. Ok, come this way.

20 minutes later I have my photos but they're not ADIT style. Somewhat worried I pointed out that I needed Greencard renewal photos. She tells me that BCIS changed the requirements. See here[^] for what they used to require and what they now want.

When I started this whole process almost 3 years ago they did require ADIT style photos and I couldn't find anywhere in Melbourne that had even heard of the style let alone would commit to getting them right. I eventually got a set of photos from Rabbit Photo, Highpoint West Shopping Centre where we just guessed the angle I should turn. I was more than surprised when the US Consulate in Sydney accepted them without demur. You have to understand that this change is good news for me. The old style photo makes my nose look even bigger than it already is!

Oh and why the title? This is why I'm not even sure I should make this post but without a twist it'd be a boring read. Of the 20 or so people in that waiting room I was the only one who couldn't speak Spanish!

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