|Comments on Tuesday 16 March 2004:|
|It's once again time for Fun With Immigration. For today's task, try getting a police certificate about yourself, from America, while you yourself are not in America. If you feel like playing at home, stop reading now, and try to figure out how you would do this using whatever resources (other than the following paragraph) you have available.|
All still here? Good. I didn't think anyone would want to play along at home. You'd have to be a complete lunatic to want to go through this hassle. If you had played along at home, however, I'll warrant that the first thing you'd have found would be stuff saying you have to apply at a local state police office, get them to take fingerprints, and such, and that otherwise you can't get such a document. Which is, of course, tremendously useful if you're not in America, since there is no local state police office.
If you're persistent, then you'll go digging through the resources the country that requires your police certificate offers, in this case Australia, in the hope of finding a more feasible way. In my case, I asked one of the semi-independent immigration advisor people, one Emily Sutherland, who told me that the immigration department has a sheet with the procedural details on it. About ten minutes of digging more carefully around the Australian Immigration website, along a trail which I now can't duplicate, I managed to find a pdf booklet, with a few paragraphs on page 16 describing how one acquires this document from America. Unlike Google, this includes the advice I paraphrase as "go federal".
Since the text there was unclear on many points, I followed that up by finding the website associated with the FBI's there-named Criminal Justice Information Services, which has a lovely page with a menu of acronyms, and mouseovers on each acronym-link explaining helpfully "This is a graphic link to LEO/IAFIS/NICS/etc." Luckily, the one link I wanted, Fingerprint Identification, was written in full rather than being merely "FI".
Thus we come to the actual step-by-step instructions, and a conflict - the Australian explanation said I'd need to arrange something for international mailing of the results, while the FBI's own explanation provides no mechanism or commentary for such arranging. No details, no contact information other than a form to report a crime, no cigar.
My conclusion in that regard - utilise the collusion of an American cohort. If I mail the fingerprints to them, they mail them and payment to the bureaucracy, the bureaucracy mails the results to the cohort, and the cohort mails them back to me, there will be no need to do anything awkward with the bureau. It sounds like a faff, but surely less of a faff than trying to arrange international communication with the bureaucracy directly.
Further awkwardness in the step-by-step instructions comes in with the demand that the fingerprints be on a standard fingerprint form FD-258. They thoughtfully provide one with a PDF file, presumably on the basis that you can then print out your own fingerprint card, put your fingerprints on it, send it to them with payment, and get it rejected because it's not a proper official fingerprint card. Luckily, it's pale blue on white so you actually can't print it out at all without a posh colour printer, so I'm saved the fun of that. Also, not only is it pale blue on white, but it's 8 inches by 8 inches to make absolutely sure that you can't print it out, since that doesn't even fit on A4 paper let alone letter. The form is obviously not globally standardised since it has a space for social security number, which essentially means the only place to get one is from American police - so it's time for another call for help from the cohort.
So, the final process goes like this:
|Question: why on earth are you moving to America? It seems a very strange thing to do. Trust me on this one. As John Cleese once said - "Tis a silly place."|
At least, I think it was John Cleese. One of the Monty Python boys, anyhow.
If you insist upon moving to America, where are you moving to?
|I'm not moving to America - I just need documents from America saying I wasn't convicted of any crimes while there, because I lived there before. Getting such documents from America seems to be the largest part of the bureaucratic nightmare of applying for an Australian visa.|
Getting an equivalent document from the UK, for example, seems to require sending them a letter and some money. No fingerprints, no forms, no trouble with international mailing.
|My first thought while playing at home was, "get on a plane for America." But I knew you'd never risk that.|
Then, I was struck by an even better idea! Get arrested for something in Oz! They will take your fingerprints, and then call up America to pull your record - checking for outstanding warrants and such. Ask for a copy. E.Z.P.Z.
|Why do you need documents from America, then? Perhaps you plan to stylishly display them upon your mantel?|
|The Australian immigration people want evidence that I wasn't a big evil criminal of doom while I was in America.|
|You seem, to me , to imply that the crapness is with the Australian side of things. It seems, to me, to be more with the kludgy American end. Am I reading you wrong?|
|Mm. All immigration things want the same sort of document from previous residences, so Australia is being only normal in that respect. America, on the other hand, makes it unusually difficult to acquire said document.|
|Raven this is going to sound mean, but since you knew that most counrties ask for such documents when your moving in wouldn't it be wise to obtain a copy before you leave the last place, this would save you on such bits as postage and international mail shipping times. I would also be willing to bet that you could get the finger prints taken on the corect form with relative ease by visiting the local US consulate or embassy.|
|Oh yes on second thought with a bit of relative ease you could also visit the consulate or embassy for the fbi as well since they also have a represenative there. On a final note for relative ease since you seem to be in no particular hurry to get the document simply mail the request for such a document to the local sheriffs department where ever you lived in the US. Next time they get an over zealous new guy someone will assign him to do the odd bs paperwork. That at least is the way the one around where I live works.... odd documents get set aside till someone new gets forced to do them so they can sit for a year or two before getting done in flurries.|
|I didn't know that most countries asked for such documents; now I do.|
The 'local' US consulate or embassy is in Melbourne - that's about 900km away, a couple of hours travel by plane or a day's drive, ie. costing a few hundred dollars and a day.
The "local sheriff's department" in Maryland won't give out such documents without you being there in person or the same fingerprinting process.
And I am in a *bit* of a hurry, needing the document by about the beginning of May, really, since my current visa expires early in June.
|I'm very suprised about the sherrifs department not doing so... note doing it in a timely manner I beleive; but the average sherrifs department in ohio, mississippi, california will do so (I can't vouch for maryland as I haven't lived there) you just need to send the request to them.|
On sort of a side note raven why do you need a visa to be in australia? aren't you allready a british citizen? The places have the same monarch even though they are across the globe from each other.
|The monarch isn't relevant to anything. They have different prime ministers, which are the closest equivalent of the president. The monarch is more the equivalent of, I don't know, the president's pet dog or something.|
|But the monarch can dissolve the government.... The just haven't done it recently.|
|Yes yes, and the president's dog can eat him. It's just as feasible.|
|how's the queen disolving the government infeasible...... It's a granted power to the monarch, by law not by nature. The presidents dog cannot legally eat him. The monarch can legally disolve parlament and has done so previously.|
|You think legality is more powerful than nature? The president's dog can *physically* eat him. The monarch can't physically dissolve parliament (excepting the potential application of strongly acidic gases).|
You really believe the queen wouldn't simply be laughed at if she tried to dissolve even the UK parliament, let alone the Australian one? You must be American. Americans have more respect for the British monarchy than anyone else does.
|when it comes to governments law is more powerful than nature..... governments pass laws defing nature all the time, and it would be very interesting to see weather or not she would be laughed at especially in the UK becuase many of the basis for parlimentary power are also the same as those allowing the queen disalution. The parliment has the power in the name of the queen by law thats why they bother to send her laws to sign even though she probably couldn' care less about 80 to 90% of them.|
|Also it is fairly important to note that she does hold the power over the miliarty as they are sworn to her and not to the parliment or to the state. It would be hard to defy those who control the military. And the military would be fairly hard pressed to disobey as any legal authority would have to admit that for the military to openly disobey the person who is their officially sworn commander and cheif is insubordination if not treason.|
|And treason's what would happen if the queen tried to make any sort of decision, unless it's one backed up by popular mandate anyway (eg. if the parliament has gone nuts and decided to do away with the democracy nonsense). The queen has the power to do what either the government want or what the people want. If she tried to do anything unilateral, she'd be laughed at and/or deposed.|
I'm pretty sure the Australian military isn't subordinate to the queen, anyway, which is where this argument started - your misguided belief that the queen has any sort of legal power over Australia at all (short of trying to get the British armed forces to attack, which power she legally has (though even then with limitations) and factually does not).
|If its not subordinate why is it called her magisties royal?|
|Why's it called a *Mars* bar if it's made on Earth?|
|It was initially designed to be a food raion for a trip there..... Sadly the trip proved impractical but they attempted to profit from the venture by selling the spare rations why's it called trail mix when its made at home?|
|Wouldn't it be great if you could redistribute that unnecessary cluster of five fullstops (or 'periods') to the many places in your comments where they're needed?|
|Ah, I see, Maxor. What you're saying is that it's a name that used to be descriptive, but is now a mere legacy, kept on for marketing purposes. Imagine that.|
|The Queen of Australia (I think she's also Queen of some other places) is still the Head of State of Australia, with the Governor-General acting as her representative in this country. So technically the Australian military is subordinate to the Queen. The Governor-General has dismissed an Australian government not so long ago, and still has the power to do so, I believe. http://whitlamdismissal.com/|
|Fair enough. Technically subordinate, but still factually not.|