Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 15, 2009: Immigration woes...

I should have posted an update before, but there unfortunately wasn't ever any exciting news. My husband went to Nikosia (as he is the European, and as men tend to receive a bit more respect here, we thought it made more sense for him to go than for me to...) on the day they said that my registration should be ready, and they went through the entire rigmarole again: "We need such and such paper." "You have such and such paper. Right there." "Oh, okay. Then we need to make another copy." Etc. I don't remember all the details anymore, but very frustrating. The only interesting part was that the head of the department heard Jörn speaking German with the children (he had two or three with him) and was intrigued: it turned out that this man had lived in Bochum for 12 years, very close to where we used to live. So they spoke German with each other and the man promised to be on the case and gave Jörn his extension number and told him to call the following week. The following week Jörn called several dozen times, eventually reached him and was told that my registration was ready, but that he didn't know where it was at the moment, so please call back in an hour. Jörn called back in an hour, dialing many, many times. (He didn't count.) Then he started making lunch and handed the phone to me, and I tried over 30 times. No answer. We kept trying in the next few days, including (at the suggestion of several other people) trying from other phone numbers, in case they had blocked our number. No success. In the meantime, I had really hoped to go to Germany for the first week of December for a conference about families on the mission field. I was going to take Helen and my friend Sue, whom Helen is crazy about, to take care of Helen. I'd hoped to leave on a Friday (the conferenced started the following Tuesday), but on Thursday, still having no news, we found flights for Monday morning (well, middle of the night, to be exact...) instead, but still didn't book. On Monday Sue let me know that if by some miracle my registration came through that day, then she was willing to fly with me Tuesday morning, even. But, it didn't, and I'm sure the conference went well, but I wasn't there. In the meantime, another friend of ours told us that he has a friend in Nikosia who is a police officer with some kind of contact to Immigration. (One of the steps they took with my paperwork in Nikosia, incidentally, was to send it to the police department there to determine that our marriage is not a sham marriage. As my husband pointed out, there must be easier ways to sneak into Cyprus illegally than to marry a German, travel around the world with him for 14 years, and have five children, but, well, you never know what people will do...) Anyway, last week, this friend, Aris, got in touch with his friend, whose name I don't know, and she started calling immigration. Wednesday she didn't get through to anyone, Thursday she didn't, Friday she didn't. She called Aris, very apologetic, and said she'd keep trying. Yesterday Aris called: his friend had gotten through, and the result is that they have lost my file completely!! Nobody has any idea whatsoever where it could be. However, since it was now a police officer asking about it, they are now (as of this morning) willing to write a letter stating that I am in the process of applying for residency, and therefore, may leave and re-enter the country, even though I've long since outstayed my three-month tourist visa. When we asked for such a letter at Immigration in Larnaka, they said that that is impossible, that they never do that, and when we asked in Nikosia, they said the same. But a police officer asked, so now I can have the letter. Which is good, as we're flying to the U.S. in 13 days. However, they won't send it--one of us, preferably Jörn, has to drive to Nikosia to get it. Nor will they make an appointment, and they can't say when exactly the man who will produce the letter will be in the office, just that he will probably be gone next week. So Jörn was told that he needs to go to Nikosia, early, and have time with him, as he may have to wait an hour or two. So despite the fact that we have friends from Germany arriving early tomorrow morning, Jörn will be going to Nikosia tomorrow, and taking a couple of books, as well as Lukas, and hopefully, will get this letter. When and if I ever get my yellow slip is still up in the air. On the one hand, as long as I can leave and re-enter Cyprus without a problem, it doesn't really matter. However, once I'm registered, we can apply for various large-family perks, such as a reduction in our electricity bill and a percentage off of groceries at certain stores. Just the father (and the children) being registered is apparently not sufficient.

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