Immigration Story

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Difficulties in obtaining a visa in a Third World country.

Submitted: April 02, 2019

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Submitted: April 02, 2019

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AN IMMIGRATION STORY

“Where can I apply for a visa?” I ask the robust man in uniform. He points to one of the buildings. “Over there. You must go in and sit and wait your turn.”

I am in the courtyard of the Immigration Service. And he has pointed to one of the four buildings. I walk up a few steps and enter. Many people are sitting in rows of plastic chairs. Others are standing at a long counter. Workers, both male and female are moving around behind the counter. Others are sitting at computers.

I sit at the end of the last row of chairs. The rows seem to be moving very slowly. After a while, I ask the man next to me, “Does it take a long time to get a visa?” He says, “I don’t think this is where you get a visa.” Annoyed, I thank him and go out to accost the guard, but he is no longer around. I find another guard.

“Where can I get a visa?”

“Building C,” he says and walks away. I search and find a building with a big C on it. A sign says, “All embarkees apply here.” Am I an “embarkee”? I enter and walk up to the counter, where several men and women are chatting, Others playing on cell phones.

“Yes?” says a man, looking up at me.

“I came to apply for a visa.”

“Did you fill out the form?”

“No.”

He is still talking to the women.

“Where do I get the form?”

“On the table over there.”

I retrieve the Application for Visa two-sided form and find a small place at the edge of the table where many people are busily writing. I do the best I can, though I’m not sure about “Eminent domain,” “restricted address,” and “Challenging phone number.” Also, “Country from to which you came.”

Back at the counter, the man is very excited. He has won the phone game. He looks at me as if to say, You again! Why are you interrupting my game? He passes my form over to another man.

“It’s yours,” says that man.

“No, it’s your turn.”

Reluctantly, the second man peruses the paper

“I think this is not the correct form,” he says.

“But it says…”

“What country are you from?”

I point to the paper. “US.”

“America?”

“Yes.
He keeps looking at the paper, as though looking for faults.

He asks the woman, “Look at this. Is it the right form?”

She nods. “Yes.”

He turns to me.

“What is your residence in this country?”

I point to it on the form.

“What is your telephone number?”

Wearily, I repeat it, pointing to the form.

“Look,” he says, “I’m asking you. I need to hear answers from you.”

“But…”

“Just try to answer.”

I sigh.

“Why are you in this country? How long do you plan to stay?”

“I’m here to teach English to children at a school and I expect to stay for the whole term—three months.”

“You need a picture of yourself.”

I produce one.

“We need a letter from the school.”

I produce it.

He seems annoyed that I have all these things ready.

“You are prepared,” he says petulantly.

“I hope so.”

“Now, you need a photocopy of everything.”

“So, can you make them?”

“No, the machine is not working.”

“What can I do?”

“You must go to a photocopy place. There’s one down the block. But hurry

because we’re closing at 2:00—in 20 minutes.”

I hurry out, across the courtyard and down the street where I find the place.

“I need photocopies of all these papers,” I say to the lone man there.

“It’ll be half an hour,” he says. “Our machine is down.”

“But I need them now. Immigration will close in twenty minutes.”

“OK, let me see…there’s another machine we don’t use. Let me see if it’s working.” He takes my papers into a back room and returns shortly with copies. I pay him and make my way back to the C building.

“You’re back?” says the same man. “Do you know we are closed?”

“But it’s not 2:00 yet.” The other man and woman are not around.

“Last minute man,” he says.

I don’t even try to remind him that he had sent me to get the photocopies.

Reluctantly, he staples the copies together.

“Well, I’ll have to see if the supervisor can still check them.” He goes behind the scenes.

Soon a large man with a commanding demeanor comes to the counter.

“Let me see them,” he says.

He glances at the first page.

“No, not satisfactory,” he says and walks away.

The man who called him says, “Sorry.”

“What can I do now?” I say, holding in my anger.

He shrugs.

I approach the woman who is now standing nearby, and put down the papers in front of her.

“What is wrong with them?”

“He doesn’t tell us those things,” she said, shuffling through the papers. “I can’t tell.”

I sigh in exasperation.

“So how do I know how to fix them?”

She shrugs again.

I just stand there, bearing down on her.

Finally, she says, “OK, let me see if I can find out, but I don’t guarantee

anything.” She goes behind the scenes.

I am ready to scream. The others, who have returned, obviously don’t want

to talk to me. They are chatting and studying their phones. What a bunch!

The woman returns. She looks as if she’d been through a rough time.

“Good news,” she says. “Here.” She points. “There is no reference number. And here there is no date on the letter.”

“Well, how do I get a reference number?”

“You must apply and pay the fee.’

“Just for a reference number?”

“Are you refusing to pay?”

“I just…”

“Wait a minute.” She consults with woman at a desk, then comes back to me.

“Please have a seat and we’ll call you.”

I wait forever. Finally, a man comes and motions me to follow him. We go out and walk to another building. We enter a hallway and he opens a door.

I am ushered into a small office. Three men are sitting at desks. The striking one is an enormously fat man with a jovial face.

“How are you?” he says. He motions me to sit in a chair in front of his desk. He is dressed in a dark green uniform, with stripes on his shoulders.

“How may I help you?” he says.

I look for the man who brought me in, but he is gone.

I am flabbergasted.

“You…you…Didn’t they tell you? I am trying to get a visa.”

“Indeed?” he looks at the other two men for reaction, but they make no sign of having heard.

My anger is rising again. What am I doing here? And what does this man want from me?

“How do you like it here?”

”Here in this office?” 

“No, in this country.”

“I’m sorry, but I’m trying to get a visa and I’m having a lot of trouble.”

“Too bad, I’m sorry.”

“That man in charge didn’t like my application. Can you tell me what the problem is?”

“Can you show me the application?”

“But I thought you had it.”

He motions to his empty desk. “Do you see it here?”

“Then why did they send me here?”

He shrugs and calls to one of the men, who opens the door and calls to someone outside. Soon a uniformed man brings in a bunch of papers. My application! He studies it. Then he sits looking at me with folded arms.

“We were discussing whether you like it here.”

“It’s fine when things are working, but there is a lot of frustration—you know the word frustration?”

“My English is very good, thank you.”

“Sorry, but I don’t understand any of this,” I said.

“Maybe we can help.”

“I wish you would.”

“But you must cooperate. You see, we have laws here. Don’t you have laws in your country?”

I nod. “But they’re clearer.”

“Maybe so. But we here at Immigration have a mandate to follow the laws.”

“Then does the law say I can’t have a visa?”

“No, the law says you must follow proper procedures, go through the prescribed process, submit the appropriate documentation and pay the required remunerations and taxes, etc. Do you understand?”

“No.”

“Well, that’s why we’re here—to explain it all to you.”

 “Yes, so then can you tell me what’s the problem with my application?”

The other man calls out something and the fat man calls back. They have a loud discussion in their language, which of course I don’t understand. The other man brings a folder and they point to some pictures. Another man comes in and they have a big laugh about something. The fat man opens a laptop and they peruse some pictures, commenting all the while and laughing.

Finally, I say: “can you please…?”

“Oh yes, of course, “he says. “Now let’s see…”

“My visa.”

“Yes, well, you are asking for three months, is that right?”

“Yes, so I…”

“Three months is a long time. What would you do all that time?”

“But, I told you, three months is the length of the school term.”

“I know, but it’s considered a long time.”

“A long time!” echoes the man at the next desk.

“You see,” continues the fat man, “people normally stay for a month or less. Tourists, we call them. If you come to this country, you might want to see the country, so you travel around. You might even want to visit some people—even for two months, though you might get tired of them and they of you. But—three months, that’s very unusual.

“Unusual causes suspicion,” chimes in the other man.

“But I said I am here to teach. Surely other people come here to teach and it would be more than two months at a time.”

“Yes, to work you need a work permit—that’s a whole other thing.”

“But I’m volunteering!”

“Same thing. You’re working, even though you don’t get paid money.”

He retrieves a long, two-sided form.

“This is the form. See if you’re interested in this?”

“But this does not apply to me!”

“Well, then I don’t think I can help you—unless—unless you’re interested in becoming…”

 “Becoming what?”

“A friend of the country.”

“What does that entail?”

“Ten thousand dollars, a medical examination, a background check, a security clearance, and a pledge.”

“What???”

“Didn’t you understand what I just said?”

“I understood it, but I don’t believe it.”

“Are you calling me a liar?”

“That’s not nice,” says the other man.

“You are asking me to pay ten thousand dollars to be allowed to volunteer in this country?”

“I’m talking about respecting the law.”

“What law is this?”

“You seem intelligent,” he said, “but You just don’t seem able to understand. I don’t know what to do with you.”

“Maybe I could see someone higher up,” I finally say.

“They will only tell you the same thing. You will waste valuable time. You need to understand that we are busy here,” says the fat man. 

“You are not respecting us,” says the other man.

“I think you just don’t like foreigners,” I exclaim.

“Still not respecting.”

The fat man leans back. “This conversation is going nowhere,“ he says.

“Well, are you denying me the visa?” I ask.

“Franky, we can’t accept your application. It’s just not satisfactory.”

“And you won’t let me consult with someone higher up?”

He dials a number and says a few words. Then hangs up.

“No, he won’t speak with you. I told you there was nothing new he could say to you, anyway.”

He paused.

“Unless…unless if you had unusual circumstances…”

“But what do you call unusual circumstances?” I say.

“Like…if someone was deathly ill or if someone had died and you wanted to attend the funeral. Then maybe you could stay for a day or two.”

“What if I died?” I ask.

“Excuse me?” says the fat man.

 “Is that a joke?” says the other man.

I was watching these two men and thinking how they were playing with me, as a cat with a mouse. What would the mouse do? Try to escape.

The two men are called out of the room.

I sit there feeling exasperation.

The fat man comes in.

He gives me a paper. I peruse it.

“It’s a visa,” I say.

Yes, we decided to give it to you, he says.

“But…”

“Aren’t you happy? Don’t you want it?”

 “Yes, but…what happened?”

“Nothing happened.”

“So why did you give me such a hard time?”

“No hard time. We were just following the law.”

“And now the law has changed?”

“No, no. We thank you for your time and patience.” He makes as if to usher me out.

“Be happy,” says the other man, “for small favors. And don’t ask

questions.”

They say good bye and close the door. I am left there, feeling dizzy.

I go to the other building to see what I have to pay. Now the same man at the desk is attentive. “There is no charge for you,” he says.

“I don’t understand.”

“I can’t tell you,” he says, but wait, “I will write it for you.”

“The boss said you helped his child in the past and now his child is doing well. His child was a big problem, doing everything wrong and doing badly in his work at school. He says you saved him, but please do not try to talk to him about it. Just accept the favor.”


© Copyright 2019 Godfrey Green. All rights reserved.

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