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

1 comment:

  1. Any wonder I am still on Balikbayan status? Hope the next president doesn't change anything in that regard ... I really would like to get my 13a, but the idea that a 13-series visa should proceed along a logical processing track is a fantasy.

    To those still outside the Philippines, get the13aor 13g visa _before_ you come to the Philippines, or for those already retired and on a pension, look very hard at the SRRV program, it may make good sense even for those eligible for a 13a.

    Or stick to the good old BB stamp, it's working well for me now in my 4th year.