Home       About Us       Salsa Store       Referral       Lifebooks       Recipes       Videos       Blog Headers

Friday, June 17, 2005

What a day! (by TubaDad, the official mailer)

jumpingforjoyOK, we pulled it off. We got our dossier certified, authenticated, and mailed off to our agency less than 24 hours after receiving our 171 form! M is the official blogger in our house, and I'm the official mailer. This responsibility usually involves returning M's mail-order shoes or clothes that didn't quite pass muster, but this time I had important work to do. First, the painful part - I had to get up at 4:30am! The drive to Sacramento takes a couple of hours, and I had plenty of time to get to the Secretary of State's office by 7:45. They opened a few minutes early, and the papers were all certified by about 8:10. I was amazed - it took them less than 15 minutes! There isn't a public copy machine at the SoS office, so I made a quick stop to copy the certification pages and by 8:30 I was on the road to the consulate in San Francisco. (Tip #1: Since the Chinese Consulate and the agency both require a copy of the dossier documents along with the originals, make a few copies of the big pack of notarized documents before you start out on this paperchasing adventure. Then all you have to do is make copies of the new certification and authentication pages as you go along. It saved a ton of time. Thanks for the tip, Stacey!) (Tip #2: This should have been obvious to me. It wasn't. If you see a public restroom right before you get in the car to drive from Sacramento to San Francisco, use it even if you think you don't need to. You won't want to pull over along the way.) (Tip #3: There is a public restroom in the corner of the lobby in the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco. Whew!) I ran into some mild traffic at the Bay Bridge toll plaza, but what else is new? It's usually a zoo there during commute hours! I got lucky and found a parking spot on the street right in front of the Chinese Consulate, and walked in the door a little after 10am. The girl working at the window was very helpful, and several times she tried to encourage me to avoid the expensive same-day expedite fees and just have the docs mailed back to me. I just smiled and said we had waited long enough to complete our paperwork and that we'd be very happy to pay the fees! They told me they would do their best, and said to come back at 3:20 to pick up the authenticated documents. I found a Starbucks with wireless internet access a couple of blocks away, so took care of a couple of work-related items and then set off to find some lunch. The meatloaf sandwich at Mel's in the marina was an excellent choice for a rainy day in San Francisco. After a quick, much-needed nap in the car I went back to the consulate at 2:30 and picked up the authenticated documents. Woo hoo, I thought. We're done! Now I all I had to do was get it in the mail. Stacey also told us about a coin-operated copy machine in the lobby of the consulate and a post office a few blocks down the street, but there was a pretty long line behind a lady slowly copying a gigantic stack of documents. I decided to head over to the FedEx/Kinko's on Fillmore at Lombard, which is about a 10 minute drive from the consulate. That way I could copy the authentication pages, have a little room to assemble everything and double-check the dossier, and then ship it off to our agency using FedEx. I love one-stop shopping! (Tip#4: If you try to do all of this in one day, make sure you scope out ahead of time where to make copies and where to go to ship your dossier.) By the way, it's really hard to hand over that stack of completed dossier documents to somebody you don't know. That envelope represents months of waiting and hours of filling out paperwork! I started thinking about everything that could go wrong. What if the scary looking guy behind the counter puts it in the wrong box? What if the envelope falls apart in transit and my dossier documents fall out? What if it gets fedexlost? What if the truck catches on fire? You get the picture. According to the FedEx web site (see picture), our dossier was delivered to the agency this morning, and barring no issues in the agency review we are now officially done with the dossier. We should be DTC sometime in the next few weeks! (Tip #5: Take along a roll of quarters for parking meters and photocopy machines, a box of paper clips, some large mailing envelopes, and a stapler. If your agency gives you one, don't forget to take along their dossier checklist - it's great when you suddenly feel the need to double-check everything nine times before handing it to the scary looking FedEx guy!)