Friday, April 14, 2006

The saga continues...

Previously on The Saga of the Residence Visa…...we have Mrs Seabees interim residence visa, Mr Mansour of Jebel Ali Clinic didn't have the forms to do her medical, but they may be there the following day.

Mr Mansour went to the office the following day and had the vital forms with him. So we toddled off down there, Mrs Seabee had the blood test done. No waiting, very friendly, easy. Back the next day just after noon, the ‘all clear’ report plus her Health Card were waiting. Easy again. This can't go on!

Next day it was time to do battle at Immigration again. We had the interim visa, the medical all-clear, we’d paid the money, so now it was the final stage, getting the permanent residence visa stamped in her passport. Off we went, (not so) bright and early, even before my morning coffee.

That was the first bad move of the day.

The second was to go on Sheikh Zayed Road – quicker I thought. And it would have been had I not chosen the wrong one of the five available lanes and missed the turn-off. That meant I had to do a tour of the city and get snarled up in the peak hour traffic heading out of town. Finally we made it to Immigration though, where we knew we had to go to ‘Section 2’. No signs anywhere of course, but the man at the Information desk actually gave us the correct directions and we found Section 2. Could this be a good omen?

The actual process of stamping the passport with the permanent visa takes one minute. I repeat, one minute. The interim visa is read by a laser light on the computer, a printer attached to the computer spits out the visa, the visa is stuck in the passport, the supervisor signs it. Done. Couldn’t be simpler.

Did I say simple? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah…….

Into Section 2, up to the Information desk just to double check – always a necessity in Dubai.

Wave the papers/passport at the man and ask if we’re in the right place for passport stamping.

“First go to typing”.

Ah. More paperwork.

Out of Section 2, find the typing office – actually a cubby in a cafeteria, eight feet x eight feet, containing three computers, six staff and fourteen tonnes of paperwork. Thrust paperwork at the least scruffy individual who we assume is the boss. He looks at it, seems to know what’s required and wants Dh450. Pay the money, hang around for 20 minutes, get the papers back with a typed form now attached and make our way back to Section 2.

I’m told I can go to any counter from 1 to 14. All have 15 or 16 people queuing at them. Remembering the lesson from last time I ignore those with ladies behind them and choose one with a uniformed officer.

As I join the queue he goes walkabout.

Ten minutes later he’s still not back and Mrs Seabee decides the next queue is a better choice, with a civilian man behind the counter. That’s the third bad move of the morning. Mrs Seabee wanders off and finds a comfortable seat, I stand seventeenth in the queue. The man behind the counter goes walkabout. As time passes I realise he’s the one with lots of old school chums who just wander up to the counter and get served before those of us in the (dis)orderly queue. No point complaining, because he’ll probably refuse to deal with me. He also goes walkabout a lot, roughly after every two customers.

An hour later and we’re down to only seven people in front of me. Another hour later and I’m second. Another of his old mates turns up at the counter with a fistful of passports and gets served immediately. Twenty minutes later and I’m on!

Bear in mind I have absolutely no idea what I’m supposed to do, what the procedure is, what I do next. So I simply greet him in my best Arabic, hoping to ingratiate myself with him, and hand him the wad of papers and Mrs Seabee’s passport. He rifles through the papers, gives me a fistful back and then says:

“You must pay Dh20,000” .
“I’ve already paid Dh10,000” I say
“You must pay 20” he says.

Invoking the name of the Major I remember from previous visits…"Ali Mullullah told me to pay Dh10,000, so I paid Dh10,000. I have the receipt”.

Wave receipt at him. He takes it, wanders to the back and goes into deep conversation with two colleagues. Finally they agree that Dh10,000 is enough.

Having sorted all that out he zaps the interim visa on his laser reader. Out of the printer comes the permanent visa, he sticks it in the passport, puts the passport on the pile on the next desk – but the supervisor's now gone walkabout. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next so I just stand there. Ten minutes later the supervisor comes back, scribbles his signature on the visa and gives it to me.

“Khalas?” I ask

“Yes, finished” he says.

We’ve done it! A one minute process took a total of three hours, but Mrs Seabee finally has her residence visa stamped in her passport.


nzm said...

Geez - after all that, I hope that her passport doesn't expire soon!

Seabee said...

We checked that first!

adevents said...

LOL, you should thank god that you are in dubai if in abu dhabi than you will write a hundered posts till it finsh

Seabee said...

Don't tell me Abu Dhabi is worse!!