Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The High Commission

We visited the South African High Commission near Trafalgar Square yesterday. The consular section is actually on Whitehall Road  and not in South Africa House as is erroneously stated on the web page, but this was the least of the issues. Bwo and I took the #65 and the tube into the city in order to sort out our status before the planned visit to the old country mid March.

My situation is quite complicated as I have a "new" expired SA passport, but it seems my SA citizenship has been "revoked" because I became a naturalized American in 2000. Bwo's situation is even more confusing as she never had a SA passport of her own, emigrating to Israel on her mother's passport.

After some lengthy discussion it was decided that I need to get a "letter" revoking my SA citizenship thereby allowing me entry into SA on my USA passport. This only took about 4 hours. The major holdup, as eventually became clear, is that the single "letter writer" is also the only cashier. So she had to split her time between the two jobs. The nice lady who interviewed us managed to work out my issues rather quickly - revoke my SA citizenship, provide a temporary letter for travel purposes, wait at least three months for official notification (a new ID number apparently). I then get permanent residence in SA and can reclaim my citizenship if I ever live there for more than a year.

Bwo on the other hand has a much more complex issue. She would have to apply for SA citizenship, this is possible because she became Israeli before she was aged 18. This would assign her a "new" ID number. She would then have to revoke her citizenship because she became a naturalized American. She cannot revoke her citizenship without an ID number. So she would have to apply for citizenship in order to have it revoked. Needless to say we took the dozens of application forms they presented to us and left.

All in all we had a pleasant trip to the city. We wandered around Whitehall and the various ministries and strolled along the Thames up to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. It's a spectacular city and we do not visit enough. I am interested to see what South Africa scores on my global percentage scale - based on the High Commission (when I finally got the letter it was incorrect, claiming I need to show my British passport on entry) I think SA will struggle to reach the 80% level.

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