Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Week Two in Slovakia - Plenty More Bureaucracy!

So, we began first thing Monday morning by finding and going to the office of the "Foreign Police," which is where foreigners go to get residency visas. We went to register my presence and obtain information. We tried to find this place last week, but failed due to misinformation on the website. In fact, we didn't find the place until we decided to take a cab, and the driver knew exactly where it was. Even if we'd known where to find the building, we still would have had a difficult time figuring out which one was the "Foreign Police" office. First of all, it's located in the middle of the colossal maze that is Petrzalka, one of the largest Soviet-era council estate housing projects in the Eastern Bloc,

located across the Danube from the old town. There were absolutely no signs, markers, or anything in front of the building to indicate that this was the office of the Foreign Police, nor was there any kind of visible address. From the street, you just see a run-down, Communist-era complex that resembles a dumpy American elementary school, slightly obscured by rows of old concrete planter boxes filled with tall weeds.

At any rate, we went in and found ourselves in a classic scene of bureaucratic hell. There was a small waiting room jam-packed with people standing around, and extremely limited seating. The office had a number system where you press a button on a machine and take a number, then wait for it be called via a digital sign on the wall. The digital sign showed that they were at #38, and our number was 218! Luckily, there were actually eight separate "lines," each for a different purpose, and the numbers applied to all lines, not just ours. We wound up waiting for two hours, and we were finally helped by a friendly officer who patiently went over everything that we need to do.

The list of things is entirely do-able, but we have to complete it all within three months, since EU laws state that non-EU citizens can only remain in the EU for 90 days without a visa. Additionally, much of this is contingent upon Terezia's divorce from her previous marriage being finalized in Slovakia, which was supposed to have already happened. Terezia had to register her previous marriage in Slovakia because she changed her last name and had to get an updated EU passport. Little did she realize all the hassle it would create years later! Although Terezia has been divorced in the US for a while, she only began the divorce process in Slovakia last May. Since my residency depends on being married to her, it's important that her divorce is finalized ASAP! We'll be going to the court Tuesday morning to check up on this.

When we were done at the "Foreign Police," Terezia's brother Anton came from work on his lunch break to pick us up. We had to give him the address of the apartment building across the freaking street so that he could find the "Foreign Police" building on Google maps. I swear, Slovakia really doesn't want you find this place!

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