It must be Monday

25 Nov

Queue Fur Elise. Actually, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra drowning out Fur Elise 🙂

Today was a much anticipated and prayed over day on account of our meeting with immigration. What better way to start it, then, than with water dripping from the ceiling between the closet and our bed? We have been wondering whether our concrete roof would hold water when the rains come. I looked out the window–was it raining already? Nothing but sunshine. So I threw on a shirt and ran up to the roof to discover a pipe leaking below the sink where we’ve connected the washing machine. I went down to get the landlord and he shut off the water and called the plumber. As of tonight, the water is still off and there is no evidence of repair. Thankfully, the water shutoff only affects the floor where I have my office, not the floor where we cook, clean, and shower most of the time.

As for immigration, the good news first. Steve and I met with the chief and he gave us the nod to proceed with my work visa without having to hire a bunch of Peruvians first. That was about 9:10. He walked us into the office where they process the papers, but there was someone there already so we had to wait in the queue outside which contained 5-10 people as the morning dragged on and many gave up and left. We were first in queue the whole time, but waited an hour and a half for the office door to finally open. As I headed for the office, a woman with a baby in arms politely excused herself and went in front of us. Peruvian law requires preferential treatment for the elderly, disabled, and young mothers. Groan. Another 20 minutes. As the woman was almost finished, a man in a wheelchair came in and I think Steve and I were both plotting how we might roll him back out before our turn…. Thankfully, he was waiting for a different area. The law is a nice idea but doesn’t work when there is only one queue.

We finally got in to see the officer. The subject of our payroll plan with Peruvian workers came up but we were thankfully able to report that the chief had already approved. I noticed her reading a section of law with which I became familiar when I submitted my work contract that exempts new companies from the requirement to hire Peruvian workers first. I was glad to see that because it means that Immigration is in fact in sync with the Ministry of Work, which had already approved my contract. Unfortunately, like so many officers, it seems they would feel bad just letting you deposit your papers without some additional requirement, so she pointed out that my address did not contain an apartment number and thus we had to redo one of the typed forms.

My heart sank. Groan! Another trip to the notary and another day wasted at Immigration. Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as I first thought. She gave us the model form to use and said it did not need to be notarized. Fortunately, a friend lives 2 blocks away. He was home and we were able to use his printer to type out the new form. We were able to jump the queue this time and deposit the form, but by this time there was a new officer on duty, so he had to review everything again. He asked if I had a copy of everything and I said that I did. Then where is it? Oh! The copy is for him and not for me (talk about budget cuts! A real shoestring budget affords no copies and no toilet paper). Well the copy was at home so I ran out of the office to get the 24 pages copied anew. Of course, the store across the street was closed for lunch, so I had to run about 3 blocks down to another one, keeping in mind that when I entered the store, I must not look hurried and must not forget pleasantries. I jogged back to the office, where, thankfully, Steve was still waiting. Steve asked if I’d remember the copy of the page in my passport with the entry stamp. No, I hadn’t. I tried another shop up the street, but they don’t make copies. Fortunately, I noticed that the shopkeeper right across the street had returned by that time, so I got my copy, paid my six cents, and went back into the office, where Steve was still waiting. The officer put my visa application in the computer system, I signed a bunch of stuff with my fingerprint, and we left. The time was now 1:30.

There were several interesting consequences of getting the application in the system today. One, my tourist visa is now suspended while the work visa is in progress. This means I don’t have to worry about the Dec 9 deadline for the tourist visa. It also means I can’t leave the country without special permission. Note to relatives: if you’re going to have an emergency, try to give at least 2 days notice so I have time to go to Lima and sit in Immigration. Another consequence is that I cannot take Daniel on the bus to Chile to renew his visa, which also expires Dec 9. We decided that rather than send Vicki and Daniel on the bus to Chile by themselves, we will just pay the fine ($1 / day) when the time comes to apply for his real visa.

In another news, the Peats’ friends from the UK who were helping with construction spent all day in the Lima airport (by design) waiting for their overnight flight back to England. This means they got to experience the magnitude 5.5 quake which shook Lima today. I had joked about a quake or volcanic eruption yesterday, so they will no doubt believe me to be a prophet now. They have friends who have had tea with Her Majesty. We’re getting better connections all the time, I say.

This afternoon I got a call from Immigration. One of our papers was not the right one, it turns out. I ordered the right one from the public registry, but it won’t be available until Wednesday, which is the day I’m scheduled to be speaking in Juliaca. Thankfully, Steve has offered to pick it up and take it to Immigration, which, if everything happens on time, will be just within the 2 days we have by law to remedy the missing document, and I should get notified in 20 days that I can come back to the office and pick up the forms I need to go to INTERPOL in Lima to certify that I am not an international criminal, after which I can pick up my residence card and for the first time, open a bank account and a postpaid cell plan. Twenty days, it turns out, is just a bit longer than my planned trip to Lima to speak at another conference, so I am praying that things move a bit faster. If for some reason, the missing document can’t be submitted on Wednesday, I will have to come back from Juliaca early to resubmit my visa application within the 15 day window of approval of my work contract. I will breathe a huge sigh of relief when this is all over.

If reading this post has made you tired, I am sorry. I thank you for your interest, your patience, and your prayers for one worn-out, frustrated, trying-to-be-an-immigrant. I have newfound sympathy for all the legal immigrants to the United States. One friend in the US waited seven years for his residence card! I am fortunate by comparison, or at least, I hope I will be 🙂

6 Responses to “It must be Monday”

  1. Yvonne November 25, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    I always enjoy reading your blog, David! 🙂

    • David Chandler November 25, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

      Thanks, Yvonne. Hearing from readers makes it more fun to write.

  2. michael CHANDLER November 25, 2013 at 11:00 pm #

    What a day! How much time does it take to hand write and appt number on an address form? Even write it on several copies? Unreal. Between the que’s and the multitude of bureaucrats, it’s a wonder any foreigner does business there. Steve’s patience and support is exemplary. Being a natural Peruvian, he likely understands better. Glad you are approaching legality. As for Daniel, good choice not to send Vicki to get his visa. Where was the nit picking bureaucrat that missed the error on your travel docs when you and he traveled?

    I just filled out passport applications for the 2 of us. It was amazingly easy here in the USA. Now health insurance, that’s another issue. I’m sure you didn’t anticipate such a hassle over immigration documents when you pondered living in Peru. What a day when you have a big presentation coming up. Thankfully, you had success.

    Love, Dad

  3. lorinczpete November 26, 2013 at 5:44 am #

    As I suggested to Daniel in India, you should keep a hard copy of your adventures for your family and as a record in case you want to compile them into a memoir.

    DV, Pete Lorincz

  4. Dawn November 26, 2013 at 11:01 am #

    Consider yourself hugged! 🙂

  5. Michael November 26, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

    Wow! That’s crazy!

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