OR "Visa Run"
As a non-Singaporean, there were several steps to getting Hamish's immigration status set in Singapore after her birth:
1. Be born -- done June 13.
2. Get a birth certificate -- done June 15
3. Register the birth in Singapore and get a temporary authorization -- done June 20
4. Get a US Consular Report of Birth Abroad -- done July 9
5. Get a US Passport -- done July 18
6. Get a Singaporean Visitor's Pass -- DUE JULY 25
Do you know what the penalties are for overstaying a pass in Singapore or being in the country illegally? Fines! Imprisonment!! Caning!!!
(Though honestly I would have taken any combination of those three to sending her back.)
Last night we realized we'd missed the six week mark. It's technically 42 days after birth. Somewhere along the way I had convinced myself we had 45 days. We were in the process of taking care of it; we were just a few days late.
So we spent today making a Visa run to Malaysia. Technically Hamish was illegal when she left, but legal when she returned about three hours later. Whew.
Getting to Malaysia is very straightforward. Even with a six week and 3 day old. We just took a bus. If you remember the time we biked to Malaysia, the Johor Strait separating the two countries is spanned by a couple of bridges. Several buses go back and forth, and we opted for a Causeway Express bus. We caught the bus at the Jurong East Bus Interchange. We were not the only ones with this plan.
But the buses come frequently, so it wasn't bad. For $4, we rode the bus about 30 minutes to the edge of Singapore, got out and walked through immigration, got back on and drove over the causeway into Malaysia, got out again and walked through Malaysian immigration, and finally boarded one more time to be dropped off about 30 minutes later at a mall in Johor Bahru or JB.
Hamish took this transit time as an opportunity to catch up on her beauty sleep.
As expected, at immigration on the Singapore side we had to go into the Immigration and Customs Authority office and show Hamish's birth certificate and authorization. This was the point when we could have been fined or arrested for not taking care of her pass on time. Of course we knew we weren't going to be arrested (or caned), but we wouldn't have been surprised by a fine. Thankfully, the officials were very kind and didn't even mention our tardiness.
Once in Malaysia all was well. We tried to get Hamish to look around and enjoy her first international trip, but she wasn't impressed with the view.
We didn't want to set the bar too high, so we just hung out in the air conditioning at the mall where the bus drops off, stopping for tea at Starbucks. Hamish tried out our borrowed stroller and she and Kyle played grinning games.
Then it was back on the bus to retrace our steps. Upon reentering Singapore, Hamish got a visitor's visa and a departure card just like any other tourist, thus legalizing her presence in the country of her birth.
Aww, baby's first passport stamp! Mommy is so proud.