If you ask a dozen expats what is the single most nerve-wracking event in the expat life, I would bet that “visa day” would come up several times at least. I just had my yearly one on Thursday. I get to stay!!
One of the most important bits of practicality in an expatriate’s life in their visa. No, not the credit card, though those come in handy sometimes too. I mean the bit of shiny paper and a stamp in your passport that states that the local government allows you to stay/study/work in their country.
It is annoying that governments control their borders and build up big bureaucratic barriers to entry in some places. The reality unfortunately is that they do. And to get over these barriers and get a visa for your stay is a pretty big accomplishment. While I have never been denied and I have a stable job, I was still nervous. I didn’t realize this until after it was all done.
..it was a cold and windy Thursday morning..
I went by the office service point for an appointment a few weeks ago. I was given a very early appointment at 8am on a Thursday. I hoped this meant no long wait and that I could get to work on time.
So the night before I went to bed early so that I could drag myself out of bed in time to shower and eat something. That Thursday happened to be pretty frosty. Despite which I decided to ride my bike so I didn’t have the timing of public transit to worry about. Peddling across the still sleepy town, my mind was racing. Did I leave enough time? Did I have all the papers? Would my “photo box” pictures be ok? Would there be a problem?
Whirling around in my head were tons of thoughts and fears. I quite like living here and it would be a big deal to have to leave; or perhaps even bigger deal to figure out how to stay. I have dealt with worse and would make something wonderful out of either decision, but I want to stay. In the end, the meeting took 15 minutes in total. Hand over my last few months pay stubs and health card for copies… and then she put the pink page into my passport. This time for 2 years and with fewer restrictions as before.
Yay, so it was a 15 minute bureaucratic meeting. Akin to getting a driving license renewal in complexity, but with this I can continue my expat life that I have come to enjoy. Oh, and one less thing on my mind.
To you other expats, do you remember your “visa day”s?