Tag Archives: visa

167. Problems II

I have had a lot of my time on my hands recently. Curiously, I have not spent it conjuring up nonsensical prose and throwing it against the graffiti-ridden, decaying brick wall that is UAE Uncut. No, instead I have split my time across three key areas: job hunting, moping, and visa acquisition.

My first complaint is about the former. How hard can it be to get a job? I have trawled and trawled online and fired off so many CV’s that I am now fairly certain that there are more copies of it on the world’s wide web then there are pictures of Kim Kardashian. Events Management, writing jobs, and project coordination are my three areas, and have I received so much as one reply? No. It seems that I am more likely to receive an email from Elvis. Still, I remain positive that one day the phone shall ring, and that on that one occasion it won’t be my bank offering me finger nail insurance.

Things have a tendency to move quite slowly over here, and for that reason I am not going for the whisky and the revolver just yet. On a completely unrelated note, should any potential employer be reading this then I love you and think that you are very handsome/pretty and your taste in music is wonderful. And may I also compliment you on your suit/frock/child/children/haircut/car/office. Good job; and I hope to hear from you soon.

Of course when I haven’t been riding around the Emirates in an open-top bus throwing CV’s from the top deck down to the scrabbling masses, I have spent some quality time moping around the apartment and wondering what must be done with this and that. I have, as of yet, been unable to come to any conclusion about anything, and that in turn has made me nothing whatsoever.

Then we come to the party piece of my time-spending escapades: trying to sort a visa. Since I am now out of work I am authorised to be under the sponsorship of my dear wife. On the face of it that doesn’t sound like such a hard to thing to achieve, but believe me, it has been a disaster.

Without wishing to name or shame any specific individual, I was given incorrect information and subsequently had to pay a hefty fine. This did not go down very well in the Fullard residence. Once the fine was dealt with, shall we say, the process of obtaining residency status could finally continue. And by “continue” I mean stop dead several times due to myriad misfortunes, such as the “system being down”, “finishing in two hours so I cannot be bothered to deal with you now”, and of course “actually, Sir, there is one problem…”

The whole thing has been infuriating and needless to say that I am only one more obstacle short of a brain haemorrhage. You can’t just do it all in one place, you have to go all over the city getting this typed here and that stamped there, and it all has to be done in the most absurd of sequences. Get one thing wrong and you land on a snake and have to move all the way back down the board to the start again.

"It was Colonel Fullard, in the Waiting Room, with the victims own leg..."

“It was Colonel Fullard, in the Waiting Room, with the victims own leg…”

It’s getting to the stage that my metaphors for visa acquisition will soon shift from Snakes & Ladders to Cluedo

I’m not kidding when I say that I have not endured one stage where there hasn’t been at least one “problem” of some kind. Why can’t there just be a list, a detailed list of what you need, how long it takes, how much it costs (so far I’ve spent somewhere in the region of AED 70 million) and most importantly where you actually have to bloody well go? I have traced my route on a map of Abu Dhabi and thus far I have covered 60,421 miles. And yet have only made about six feet of progress.

Still, no matter, at least I have my health. Yes, that was verified by the Disease Prevention Centre only today, I am “Fit” apparently. I don’t know how reliable that information is because all that happened was a doctor asked me to lift my shirt for 1.5 seconds so that he could see my back, I was drained of my blood, and had my upper torso x-rayed. All that was confirmed was that I have a spine, that I’m not Vulcan, and that I have some gooey things under my skin. I went to play football in Dubai last week and let me tell you, I am anything but fit.

Still, all my problems and grievances of late pale into insignificance when compared to the events of the recent devastation in the Philippines. All my fist thumping and harrumphing melted away when I saw the images of the wretchedness. I can’t even imagine what horror and hell the people of the Philippines are going through. With over 10,000 reported dead and the survivors totally cut off from the world, I refuse to accept that anyone else has a problem.

Thinking about it just isn’t enough, but I don’t know what else I can do. Hope.

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11. Visa run

The UAE is a super place.  Yes it is.  No really, there are more positives than negatives.  It’s known for its oil, its fantastic weather and its wonderfully tall buildings, but it is not known for its urgency when it comes to administrative procedures.  One of the trickiest issues that people face when they first get here is getting their residency visas sorted.  It is a facet that is completely beyond your control yet totally your fault if it goes wrong.

When I first came here it took a while for my residency to be processed, a long while.  I wont say how long because it may compromise my position but there were some squeaky bum moments for sure.  In order to avoid the moniker of “illegal immigrant” I had to do the visa run.  This meant that I had to go to Dubai airport; catch a plane to Muscat,Oman, sit alone at a bar for 5 hours getting drunk and then fly back to Dubai again.  I had to do this twice before my residency was completed.  I even accidentally went to the airport on the wrong day and managed to get to Oman without a valid ticket!  It was infuriating since it was totally out of both mine and the companies hands.

Recently a friend came to stay with us for 2 months; this meant that at the halfway point we were going to have to extend his visit visa.  Nowadays you can cross the border in a car, and this is something we have had to do for other friends in the past.  Dropping them off and watching them walk through the fence like it was a hostage exchange.  It’s perfectly legal but such a drag.  So the other option is to pay a visit to the immigration office.

I took my friend to the Ministry of Interior with our companies PRO.  The man behind the desk was very helpful.  After waiting in the line for only 3

WANTED: for hindering efficiency

hours he told us that there was nothing we could do unless we had some documents that we weren’t sure even existed and continued to throw birds at things on his iPad.  Irate and slightly confused we agreed that we would go back the following day to try again.  We did so and spoke to another helpful man who made no mention of any documents but implied that it was early in the afternoon and therefore wasn’t enough time for him to be bothered to do anything.  He did say however that our PRO could try tomorrow, and promptly went back to playing Angry Birds.

On the third day victory was finally achieved.  Our PRO took my friends passport and within a matter of minutes it had been stamped and extended, no documents, no questions, and no angry birds.  I still find it mad that you can take anybodies passport and get it extended without them being there.  How did the person behind the desk know that the passport wasn’t stolen?  Or counterfeit?  What were these “documents” for that we didn’t seem to need?  How is it you are told three different things by three different people on three different days who all work within three yards of each other?  To speculate is to waste time.

Today the blog simply offers peace of mind to those fretting about the matter.  It is very easy to stress about visa expiration and being arrested and water-boarded by the CIA or being thrown in prison for a 100 years but my message is simply “don’t”.  Don’t worry at all.  If you are waiting for your residency visa then there is no law against hopping over the border and back as many times as you need to.  If you are visiting for a couple of months so what, there is no law against that either.  If you don’t want to drive to the border then by all means pop along to those delightful workaholics at the Ministry of Interior and they will legalise you in a jiffy.

Well, if they’ve left their iPads at home they will.

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