Friday, June 8, 2012

Having Fun in Macedonia, but still Illegal: June 8, 2012

Dan returned Friday, June 1, from his short trip to Washington DC.  The whole purpose of the trip was to pick up his work permit.  The work permit turned out to be an unimpressive piece of paper.  The guy at the Macedonian Embassy in DC told Dan that the piece of paper should be date stamped by immigration upon arrival in Skopje.  As instructed, Dan showed the immigration officer the paper, but the officer shrugged his shoulders and didn't know what to do with the piece of paper.  It was not date stamped.

When foreigners enter Macedonia they are required to be registered within 48 hours with the police. On Saturday, Dan met Olivera (our landlady) at the police station for the purpose of his registration.  The police department did not have any registration cards and told Dan and Olivera to come back on Monday.

On Tuesday (June 5) Dan and his lawyer went to the Ministry of Interior to see if the work permit would now get him a resident visa.  It did not.  Dan was told that he needed the new resident card from the police and that he needed to present a notarized rental agreement for the apartment.

On Wednesday, Dan and Olivera went again to the police department.  Dan wrote the date of entry into Macedonia as June 1. The police did not notice that his residence registration was 96 hours after his arrival in Macedonia.  Dan left the police station with his new registration card.

Olivera brought her copy of our rental agreement written in Macedonian.  I changed the dates on the rental agreement to begin June 3, 2012 (not January 15).   Now, the agreement must be notarized which means that both Dan and Olivera must appear before a notary on Monday, June 11.

On Tuesday, June 12, after submitting all the newly secured documents, Dan will have his photo taken by an official photographer (who only works Tuesdays and Thursdays and only until 2:00 pm) at the Ministry of Interior.  I'm hoping that no further requests for additional documentation will be made, and that finally, he will receive his visa.

When Dan went to DC, he was also carrying my credit report, my criminal history, our marriage license all of which had been translated into Macedonian and notarized.  He was instructed by his Macedonian lawyer to present these documents to the Macedonian Embassy in the US to begin the process of securing my visa.  Dan, as instructed, presented my documents but the embassy employee shrugged and said I would have to come myself to get a visa to live in Macedonia.

We have already lived in Skopje for five months and been illegal for two of those five months.  Since we've been here, he has had to get his criminal history and credit report, have them translated into Macedonian, have them notarized, and had to get them again as they became older than 60 days.  He had to hide in our apartment one day because someone from the Ministry was going to visit the ABA office to make sure the ABA still planned to hire Dan.  He has had to provide a statement that no Macedonian has the same qualifications as Dan so the ABA can only hire Dan.  All this even though Dan is the only ABA presence in Macedonia.

The Macedonian Embassy employee in DC told Dan a joke about Macedonian immigration officers:

Why do some immigration officers have one star while some have two stars?  One star means someone in the officer's family can read and write; two stars mean the officer can also read and write.  Dan told Olivera this joke and she told us a similar joke:  Why do police officers go everywhere in pairs? Because one officer can read and the other can write.

We're beginning to understand why these jokes exist in Macedonia.  There must be some version for Macedonian Embassy workers as well.

In this long process, I've heard that some people simply give up or even get new passports to restart the 90 day visa-free period.  The Macedonian Embassy workers told Dan that for me if anyone questioned my lack of a visa to say that it had been applied for and was in process--even though it is not.

Dan is away again--working. This time he is holding a training class in ┼átip.  ┼átip, pronounced Shteep, is about two hours east of Skopje.  The course begins today and will continue until Sunday afternoon.

Between his trips out of country/town, we have taken advantage of two festivals.  The OFFest is a five-day festival of world music.  We went to performances on three nights.  The other festival, Buskerfest, is a festival of street performers.  It begins each evening just as the the heat of the day leaves.  There are mime statues, musicians, tight-rope walkers, sword swallowers, jugglers, and a Canadian who lays down on a bed of nails with a spectator standing on top of him.


This human statue maintained her tranquility when faced with a bratty little boy who first kicked her and then kept tugging on her clothes and even attempted to hit her.




The Buskerfest will end this weekend; our quest for legal status in Macedonia will not.




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