We tip our hats to Norse culture for giving us the word “saga” – a long story involving dramatic events…sounds just like our journey towards obtaining temporary residency.
On Monday Matthew went with a lawyer to Urząd Wojewódzki in Bydgoszcz, the state capital of Kujwasko-Pomorskie, to submit his application for Karta Pobytu (temporary residency). Last week involved a lot of hurdle jumping to get all of the documents together. It wouldn’t be a Price saga without some comedic elements to it (not limited to the lawyer losing Matthew’s pictures and then finding them in her purse after her steps were retraced across 4 floors of the building or Matthew’s contact lens falling out of his eye while in the office. Nothing like licking it clean and putting it back in to show how tough you are). In the end it was a mix of good news and bad news:
GOOD NEWS: Matthew’s application for temporary residency has been accepted for review pending 4 things:
1) new pictures (once the pictures were found, the lady in the office said, “these are not biometric enough”
2) Matthew’s old work contract from January until now (Matthew’s boss never had him sign one of these)
3) a letter from the local tax office saying Matthew does not owe any back taxes (though he’s never paid taxes before January)
4) this leads us to the bad news….
BAD NEWS: the fourth document they asked for is Zezwolenie. It’s kind of like a work permit. This is the document that kept us waiting in Canada for 6 months. It was the one thing we were hoping not to hear. Without a new one, they will not give Matthew temporary residency. This paperwork is solely the responsibility of Matthew’s boss which means our timeline is in his hands and he may not be feeling the crunch like we are.
GOOD NEWS: with the lawyer, Matthew spoke to the worker handling Amber and Daxon’s applications. The lawyer had our three applications linked. Also, the Polish government said we did not earn enough to live here. This surprised us since we provided proof of our Canadian income. When Matthew asked the lady why this income didn’t count she said there were no such documents in our file. We had provided 8 original copies of this document and 8 certified translations. Somehow the office had lost all 16 documents. Thankfully Matthew had more copies on hand and the question of our financial ability to be in Poland has been resolved.
BAD NEWS: we tackled the topic of Schengen once again, and the lady did suggest some illegal ways she could help us side-step the system, but the fact remains that after May 23rd Daxon and Amber are not legally permitted in the Schengen Zone. We’re still looking at a minimum of 2 months apart.
NEXT STEPS: Amber and Daxon return to Poland on May 18th (hooray) from Romania where they have been working with a Tattered Tiaras team . There will be some legalities to handle and then on May 23rd they will return to Romania to stay with fellow Global Workers and friends Jenn and Razvan Iacob. Romania is the geographically closest nation that does not require tourist visas and is not in the Schengen Zone. Amber and Daxon will stay there for a few weeks until we hear back from the office in Bydgoszcz. The office has 45 days to request additional information and have our dear police friends come and inspect our home and question Matthew. Once we know how the office will proceed, we will make more decisions accordingly.
WHY IS IT SO HARD? From outside of Central / Eastern Europe it may be hard to understand why all of this is taking so long and proving to be a huge challenge. Though sometimes tempted to think it’s just us, we’re increasingly confident it’s the bureaucratic systems in this part of the world. For example, let’s revisit those pictures that weren’t “biometric enough”. On Tuesday Matthew went to the photography studio where he had them done and explained what the office had said. The owner of the studio overheard this and was so enraged he called the office in Bydgoszcz, yelled at the lady who rejected the photos and then called her manager. Though Matthew pressed repeatedly for new pictures (at first for free and then even offered to pay again) the owner of the studio was so bothered that he said there was no point in retaking the pictures (for free or for money) since this was their very best work so what good would a second picture do. An hour-and-a-half later Matthew left the studio with no new pictures and had to go to a different studio to have more pictures done there. You’d think the pictures would be the easy part. Now imagine pulling together the documents.