Thursday, January 26, 2012

DFA Experience

This month has been really interesting for me as I experienced both sides of our government. The efficient and inefficient sides.

I recently had to get an NBI clearance for new employment. Sad to say, that was the worst experience I had with regards to our government and it irks me no end that I pay tax money just to get crappy service. Anyway, I don’t want to go into that further as I don’t want to rehash the hell I went through just to get that yellow paper that will enable me to move to a different company.

I was at the DFA earlier to have my passport renewed as it’s due to expire January 2013. I opted to renew as early as now as I’m not sure if I’ll have time throughout the year to fix this.

I scheduled for an appointment early this month and got a 3PM schedule as today is my son’s birthday and I’m on leave. He had a small party in school earlier and I left around quarter to 1. I made good time and was at DFA at 130PM which was 1 ½ hours before my appointment.

When I got inside, I was made to sit with my other co-3PM appointees. We were made to wait on benches underneath a tent outside the building. It was rather comfortable and I had my book with me to keep me entertained. Around 3PM, we were asked to follow the 230PM appointees inside the building where there’s another line going to the counter screeners to check your documents. Again, that was fast and I was able to reach the counter at around 330PM.

After that, I went to the 2nd floor to pay the passport fees. Again, line was very short.

After paying, I was directed to get a number to wait in line for the picture and fingerprint capture. When I got my number, I was surprised to see that there were 300 people more waiting ahead of me. I then settled down to wait. I was delighted to see how fast the numbers were being called though probably because they had more than 50 counters open. I estimated that they could process 10 people per minute (or more). That’s not bad. True enough, my number came up 30-45 minutes later.

If you look at it, I was actually done in an hour and a half. I just came in early for my appointment. If that’s considered a long wait for other people, it’s a big improvement over my NBI clearance experience which was very excruciating and frustrating.

By the way, for those wearing contact lenses, make sure you either don’t use them during your picture taking or bring contact lens solution and case with you. The DFA staff only noticed it after I was done. She asked me to remove my contact lens as it’s not my correct eye color. Unfortunately, I did not bring any solution or even a contact lens case with me. I was forced to remove it after they thankfully provided me a case where I can put it in. In lieu of the solution, we used water. Good thing I was still able to put them back on after the picture taking. I had no choice as my eye grade is 5.00 and I’m driving.

I then paid for delivery and was out of the building by 430PM.

That’s it, basically. By the way, they still have a different line for those with children and senior citizens and another queue for those scheduled through travel agencies.

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