Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Continuing Saga

We finally filed our 13 (a) ... but not without hitches. After complying with all the requirements, such as the notarized letter from the spouse (petitioner), notarized application form (signed by the applicant and petitioner), NSO issued Birth Certificate, NSO issued Marriage Certificate, and photocopy of alien spouse's passport which includes the bio page, date of admission and date of authorized stay, we finished 2 to 3 hours after our arrival at the Makati Office.

All I can say that except for one or two staff of the Bureau of Immigration, every single one of them were grumpy and rude. They certainly were less courteous to the foreigners, who they even sometimes summarily dismissed as either not following instructions or refused to be seated down (when there was clearly no seat left). I can understand how staying in a country not ones own is a privilege but certainly every civil servant worth their salt, should realize that the foreigners coming to our country help to fund our economy in some form, ergo also fund their (the Bureau of Immigration staff) salary. Further, Conduct Unbecoming of a Public Official is sufficiently broad that disrespect to ones clientele can easily land them an administrative charge. But hey, maybe it was the heat of the sun and the packed office that made their heads equally hot that day, whichever it was.. it certainly did not make my dealings with them pleasant.

I must emphasize the point that under the Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA), government agencies are required to have a flowchart of the frontline services they offer. For example, there should have been a flowchart of procedure for those needing a tourist visa extension, for those filing under 13-A or such other processes. No such flowchart exists anywhere within the satellite office. It seems that for those needing anything from the BI they would either have to figure this things out on their own, or deal with accredited agencies. I cannot understand why the process cannot be clearly laid down on paper and each step-by-step instruction made readily available at the office itself.

At any rate, I decided I will be more proactive the next time. I will ask around with my lawschool friends who work with the Bureau of Immigration about the whole procedure, since I certainly cannot get a straight unoffensive answer from the office itself.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dealing with the Bureau of Immigration

My dealings with other government agencies, apart from my own has been few and far between. And in the few times I have ever needed to deal with any other government agency apart from my own, I have often leveraged the fact that I had belonged in the last 8 years of government service with two of the most powerful quasi-judicial agencies. When my husband and I got married, I casually asked a Field Officer from my former agency about the process of getting a marriage license which would not require attendance to a seminar since my husband would be in the country for only 3 weeks for the wedding. The license itself would have required 10 days of processing upon filing, and upon his arrival he would not have had the time to attend a seminar. That conversation went very well since I was referred to the Personnel Officer of the city which I then lived in, and since I knew him from before, he easily referred me to the Civil Registrar of that city. It was pleasant since even the Personnel Officer himself spoke to me and my husband. It was a cinch, and we were married in 10 days.

I really am not the type to be blatant about my "associations", since it can often backfire unexpectedly. Since I did not want to say I am from so-and-so agency and I was getting a visa for my foreigner husband, I chose to take the less blatant approach - I donned my agency t-shirt with our agency logo emblazoned in the left pocket. It was easy enough to get entertained when I arrived at the Bureau of Immigration satellite office. That was not really the problem. My problem was the instruction on the leaflet they gave me; I thought them misleading and wasted my time since I visited the office once more than I should have.

I should have realized the instruction was inaccurate since Item No. 6 made no sense to me -- "Plain photocopy of the passport of foreign national's spouse showing applicant's bio-page, admission stamp and authorized stay of at least twenty (20) calendar days from date of filing." Does it make any sense to you why they would ask a photocopy of MY PASSPORT? Since after all, I am the foreign national's spouse. I think they meant "photocopy of the passport of the foreign national," which is certainly more acceptable and accurate.

At any rate, I dispensed that as an error in logic or syntax, whichever that was. I proceeded to get Item No. 5 on my second visit -- "the Bureau of Immigration Clearance Certificate". Tell me if I am wrong, is it not that when you say that the BI Clearance Certificate is a requirement, it would imply that once the Application/Petition for 13-A visa is filed, the Clearance Certificate is already present. Thus, I was of the impression that I needed to get that first before I file the Application/Petition itself. Wow, was I WRONG! Apparently, there was a gap somewhere between their thinking and what was written on paper since they said.. what they meant was the "Request for Clearance" was to be submitted together with the Application/Petition itself. So I wasted a day of leave at the office, as well as a half-day commute. I just chalk it all up to experience, partly because that is all I can do.

At any rate, I still have one ace up my sleeve if I ever get delayed. The Commissioner is a personal family friend of an officemate. :P If I can't do this smoothly the procedural way, I will do it smoothly another way (but still perfectly legal). :D

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Finally Here Before Valentine's

He is finally HERE!!! And what a relief! :p I didn't see him in the arrival area, one hour after the Asiana flight had arrived, and I was already getting worried, thinking that something horrible has happened to him. I didn't want to call his children abroad, as I felt it would be too early to worry them. But finally I saw him, acosted by two men at the arrival area (worry). At the back of my mind I was thinking if this was some immigration hulla-baloo or he was being interrogated for something. It turned out Asiana had lost one of his baggages which has three months worth of medicines! In any case, they said it would be returned the next day, and it was.

At home, having arrived two weeks ahead of him at our new place made it possible for me to apply for a cable connection such that the day after his arrival, our connection was installed. It costed me P2750 for a 6-month connection via Global Destiny... and not bad, it had almost all the channels that my Asawa Pogi wanted. Tomorrow (today) is Valentine's and we are buying our first weekly groceries. I budgeted P2000 for that (wish us luck)... Hopefully that should be enough for our two-person household.