“Believe in your dreams and they will come true.”
I do believe in my dreams and often, they too come true. Maybe after lots of effort, after lot of turmoil and at times, when all hopes are fading away. But yes, they do come true.
One such dream which had me running in circles was my dream of an onsite assignment, of experiencing life in a foreign country and of understanding foreign work culture.
Every other day, I would hear the news of colleagues flying over the foreign waters on an “officially sponsored trip”. I would open Facebook and it would be filled with statuses of friends’ and ex-friends (batch mates, seniors and juniors with whom you haven’t interacted in years and for some of them, you can’t even remember the names but still they are part of your Facebook friend list) moving abroad.
Although I have been to multiple foreign countries before but the happiness of representing your company in a foreign land can’t be compared to a vacation, or at least I thought so back then.
While everyone around me would ‘pack and go’, I would sit and wonder, “What is wrong with me? Technical skills- Check, Interpersonal skills- Check, Leadership skills- Check. Check, check and check!”. But each time, visa lottery process would betray me and I would be left with no alternatives than to wait for the next year lottery process.
Next year was here. 3rd year of my visa application. Visa application process was open. I had filled the form, verified and re-verified it and it was all complete. Until, I got an email from my company regarding my passport validity. My passport was going to expire within an year from now and couldn’t be used for the process. It was a real shocker!
With no options and no workarounds, I applied for the Tatkal passport facility. According to all the guidelines, I would get the new passport in next 15 days and it will be all settled. I was trying to be optimistic.
Guess, it is never easy. Next roadblock was waiting for me and my passport application got blocked due to a missing address proof. How to make anyone understand that I had changed my residence recently and there was no way of presenting them with a 3 months bank statement with my new address.
I thought of using the shortcut method and opted for an agent who would charge me money and get my work done quickly. I didn’t bargain with him and paid him his dues, and alas, I received the passport in a week. It felt miraculous. Instantly, I emailed all the documents to my company and started praying for the dreaded step, lottery selection.
It was all going well, life was back to normal. I had submitted the application and there was nothing left in my hands now. Then, an email popped again with the subject “Request for more information.” At the surface, it was a simple request for confirming my name but as I went into the details, my ears started fuming and my palms began to sweat.
I was FNU now. First Name Unknown.
It was agent’s mistake. Totally. Completely. I try to comfort myself till date with this thought. He had entered both my first and last name in the first name column and as US doesn’t accept first name as blank so my whole name was placed into “Last name” and I turned into “First name unknown.” I had no first name. I really don’t know how my parents would react to this if I told them that I had no first name now.
Anyways, the saga continued.
It was too late to correct this mistake and I had to live with it- at least for a while.
Days passed. Luckily, my name got selected in the lottery process this year. FNU didn’t affect the visa process and I got my visa stamped as well. Within days, I got an onsite project, and it was time to travel.
My dream was coming true but with an additional clause of FNU. I researched online- some articles made me nervous, some made me hopeful and some made me wonder if I would even be able to cross the customs?
With mixed thoughts and feelings, I traveled…
Today, my dream has come true. Customs went smooth but the curse of FNU continues.
My SSN reflects my name in a different format, my visa says something else and my driving license has my name cut in half. Often, I am declined a credit card due to name mismatch and when I think of getting it corrected, I know the path is not easy.
This was the tale of a FNU passport. I also have FNU and LNU (Last Name Unknown) friends with whom I have a good laugh on this topic and who understand my pain.
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Dedicated to my hubby who introduced me to the ‘World of FNUs‘.