Thursday, September 06, 2007

Citizen of the Universe?

And now a few words on why I need an EU husband. Or at least an EU passport.

The process of getting a visa to study or work in the EU is arduous. And frustrating. You have to jump through hoops, run all over town, deal with grumpy people in windowless, flourescent-lit offices, pay a lot of money, and waste a lot of time. Having already been through the process for my student visa, I was well aware that getting a work permit could be potentially disastrous. Or at least extremely annoying. Even with help from my company on the Spanish side. (Without which, I think I'd jump off a bridge before getting the work permit.)

To get a visa for a work permit in Spain you need the following:
1. A valid passport
2. 3 passport photos
3. 3 original Schengen forms
4. A letter from the "Extranjeria" in Spain saying your permit application has been approved
5. A "Concesion" from the Spanish govt saying it's ok for you to work there (this is new, and how it's different from #4 I cannot say)
6. Proof of No Criminal Record, bearing the Apostille of the Hague
7. Doctor's letter stating you're not crazy or on drugs
8. $100 money order payable to the Spanish Consulate
9. Patience
and, if you're working while doing all of this,
10. A very understanding boss

So I have numbers 1-3 and 7-10 under control. I have a lot of #9 and fortunately also a #10. What I'm still waiting on are the two documents from Spain. And today I tried to take care of #6, the criminal record form, without going to New York. Emphasis on "tried."

You see, in order to get this fancy Apostille, you must first get fingerprinted. Then your friendly local police run your prints and in 10 business days, your form is ready. And THEN you can take your papers to the Consulate, after which you might get your visa in 3 days or maybe in 33 or more. Once you get it, you have only 30 days to split the country or you have to start all over. Tricky, eh?

So I called the NYPD yesterday to find out if I could get fingerprinted in Boston and then mail the prints to NYC. The surprisingly friendly and helpful person on the other end of the line said that I could, as long as the Boston Police put a stamp or a seal on the paperwork. Easy! So I called the Boston Police, where another surprisingly nice person told me that I could indeed get printed here even though my last US residence was New York, as long as I first go to the FBI to pick up a federal fingerprinting card. No sweat!

So this morning I (and my flip-flops) took a $10 taxi ride to FBI headquarters. I guess my new thing when I go to a city is to visit as many bureaucratic government offices as possible. Call it a hobby. At the FBI I walked through a metal detector just to talk to someone at a bullet-proof window. Then the woman behind the window gave me the card I needed and I was in another $10 taxi on my way to police headquarters. Which was loud and crazy and exactly like police headquarters in the movies, and much cleaner than the one at Police Plaza in New York.

At or about this time, my luck started to run out. A woman at police HQ asked me for an ID, which I presented: a California drivers license. She asked if I'm a resident of Boston and I said yes, but I just moved here 2 days ago. She asked for proof of residence. Um, I'm staying in a hotel until next week. She said fingerprinting is only for residents. I explained that I had spoken to someone on the phone and had explained my situation and had been told I could get printed here even as a resident of New York. She asked who I spoke to (What?! I called police headquarters... how would I know?) and clearly felt pretty badly for me as she told me I could go to another fingerprinting place AROUND THE CORNER FROM THE FBI BUILDING and get printed there.

So, unable to swallow another $10 taxi ride, I decided to venture onto the T. Where I bought a $10 metro ticket. Makes sense, right? By the time the train came I was already an hour late for work. Now despite the frustrations of the morning, I might go so far as to say it was totally worth it for the place I saw next. I wish I had taken pictures... I might have to go back. Because I wasn't sent to another police station but to a random basement fingerprinting place run by a little old guy with a really strong Baahston accent. He was awfully nice to me, especially as it dawned on me that in no way would I be able to get a Boston Police seal on my fingerprints at his place. He brainstormed for a few minutes about how I might get myself out of this no-current-residence catch-22 (I mean, NYC hasn't even been my residence for the last two years!) and finally just took my prints and my $20 and I was back in another $10 taxi to the office.

So by 11am I was $60 poorer, 2 hours late for work, certainly very frustrated, and more than a little hungry. And after all that, I will still have to go to New York to get printed again. And then wait 10 days for them to be ready. And then I can go back to NYC to pick up the prints and then wait in the extremely long line at the Spanish Consulate...... wheeee! Immigration is fun!

By the way, the rest of my day was much better. Lunched with my new boss, met lots of cool people in the office, and heard about some nice little projects I can work on while I'm here.

1 comment:

samin said...

are you taking the chinatown to chinatown bus on all of these trips to nyc? it seems like that can get to be pretty expensive, pretty quickly, too.