Monday, September 22, 2014

The Diplomatic Details

Well, it has been quite the productive morning here at Pilgrim's Rest at things I didn't know I was going to spend so much time on. 

I was able to talk with the Wayne County Clerk's office dealing with my wife's birth certificate processing.  Put on hold three times, not for long each time, thankfully.  It turns out that they log each request sent in via mail and logistic delivery services such as UPS, and so they had a record of her application with the date received. . . Tuesday the 16th, apparently (they have furlough days where the office is closed, one of which was Monday September 15th, according to the clerk who I spoke with).  That's odd, because UPS stated on their Internet site for tracking packages that the item was received Monday the 15th.  Oh, well.  According to the clerk, the birth certificate(s) were shipped back to her at our address Thursday the 18th.  So apparently the statement made to us by the Clerk's office is true. . . send your request via UPS and the turnaround processing time is three days!  Will be looking expectantly for it. 

UPDATE 9/23/14: Wayne County did indeed deliver via USPS the birth certificate(s). . . full page, in color, and with the County Clerk's stamped signature with the date the request was processed.  Imagine Detroit being faster at this kind of request than Los Angeles County. . . but it's true, and not what I expected.  Good for them!

Looking ahead for the next step to be accomplished, I telephoned the Michigan Secretary of State's (SOS) office in Lansing, MI.  Not too long of a wait, but longer than the Wayne County Clerk's office was. . . around 15 minutes on the phone.  Then a live clerk got on the phone, and I asked my question on what specifically do we need to send and in what form to the SOS office.  They couldn't answer that live. . . I was transferred to an automated voice mail system.  I hung up and emailed the SOS my particular questions. . . don't they require payment for the apostille letter service, and does it need a money order, cashier's check, or personal check?  Not too hard of a question. 

Might as well anticipate the next step for my birth certificate apostille letter from the California Secretary of State's (SOS) office.  I was put on hold for a half hour - state budget cuts, I was told while on hold - and got to speak with an articulate, informed clerk in Sacramento.  Yes, I can go to the Ronald Reagan State Office Building in Downtown LA and go to the SOS office there to get my birth certificate apostille letter.  No, they don't apostille US Federal Social Security Award Letters or Statements of Income.  Just as I thought.  I mentioned what the Ecuadorian Consular official told me and my reply on the fact that the Social Security letters were Federal documents, and should be apostilled by the US Federal Secretary of State's office.  They agreed with that reasoning, and directed me to contact the US State Department in Washington, DC. 

After a half hour's wait - you can enter your telephone number and get a call back if desired, but I declined - I was able to talk to a very personable clerk there.  He mentioned that first the Social Security letter(s) would have to be notarized by a Notary Public, then certified by the court (US District Court, I presume) corresponding to the geographical area the Notary Public is located at.  Then get the State of California Secretary of State to apostille the Social Security pension letter.  I then discussed that I just got off the phone with the CA SOS office, and they specifically stated they don't apostille US Federal documents.  Polite silence ensued.  A true diplomatic moment, indeed! 

The personable staffer then advised me that my information would be passed on to a specialist who is more in the know than he, and that I should expect a callback within 24 hours.  OK.  It's always good to say you don't know. . . (smile)  It became obvious to him that I had a point, having raised it with the Ecuadorian Consular official in Beverly Hills, now discussed with both the CA SOS office and the US State Department in Washington, DC.  Someone or something's gotta give, and I don't really care as long as Ecuador's government recognizes our Social Security pension letters as genuine and legalizes them.  Diplomacy is hard work, when you get down to it. . . and the solutions are both so logical yet so hard to put into effect. . . for reasons I will never know this side of Eternity.  God be present in the details, please.  We need your mediation and conciliation in times like these.  I'm reminded of the verse in Isaiah which states, "Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD (Isaiah 1:18a). 

Just to be on the safe side, we will get both Social Security pension letters apostilled.  That way, should one of us die before the other, the Cedula of the one who survives isn't made invalid or cancelled.  That was the reason a couple we met in Cuenca had to take an (expensive) flight out to the USA. . . not apostilling *both* Social Security pension letters.  Think ahead, do more than you first think you need to do, and listen to the advice of others in authority and experience.  And yes, I continue to see wide variance on exactly what you all need to do documentwise on this topic in the 'Net.  Don't believe everything you hear  ". . . but test the Spirits, to see if they are from God. . . " (1 John 4:1a)     

Here's a link relating to today's topic from the Government of Ecuador entitled (in English) "General Information for Immigrant Visa Applicants."  The page is in English as well, but when you click on the home link, you'll get Spanish, just so you know.

Even here, the statement on having a marriage certificate apostilled is not in keeping with my legal counsel's in Cuenca, Ecuador advice - who says a licensed notary public seal/signature with the date is all that's required.  So there's still a fair bit of fudging on the details of how papers get accepted for the Visa and Cedula process, I would surmise. 

Getting the last of my belongings out of my teacher's filing cabinet. . . clearing out this desk of papers and organizing it all for the move out of here, of course.  Maybe a week and a half 'til we're no longer sleeping here. 

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