Living the Travel Channel – Residency visas

September 9, 2008

After very annoying and troublesome additional medical falderall, I received my residency visa. Almost in the knick of time, since for the first 30 days we were on temporary visas and those were about to run out. As of this writing, however, Paul’s remains a question. We have all the necessary paperwork, except the duly processed marriage certificate. Now, by duly processed, I mean a legal document obtained from the Oregon office of vital records, then sent to Salem to be authenticated by the Oregon State Dept., then sent to Washington DC to be authenticated by the US State Dept and then sent to the UAE Embassy in also in Washington DC for the final authentication. You can imagine that this process takes a while. Unfortunately, I do not know exactly where in this process my certificate it, but I know it ain’t here. So, hopefully, the director of immigration will take pity on my situation and sign my application to sponsor Paul’s visa anyway. I suspect that the plan B is to send Paul out of the country for a day (to Oman) and back in with a new 30 visitor’s visa. Hopefully, this will turn out to be another tempest in a teapot.

(Post script – we met the deadline and Paul can stay in country, however there is more to the process. Paul has to go through the medical exam process and then he should get his residency visa following that.)

In order to get a residency visa, you have to be sponsored by someone, either an employer or family member. Hence, the college sponsors me and I sponsor Paul. Seems like a reasonable way to control immigration, otherwise everyone would be coming here! However, it sets up some employment problems, because so many of those who do manual or blue collar labor are dependent on their employers in order to stay here. If you don’t like your job, you can’t just quit and get a new one. It also opens the door to blatant exploitation of those lower level workers. Many of them work 12 hour shifts 6-7 days a week for what we would consider low wages (better than what they could get in their home country, which is why they put up with it).

The thing that is probably most uncomfortable for us here, is being waited on. It’s one thing to have busboys in a sit down restaurant, but they have them here in mall food courts. People look at you strangely if you bus your own table. Also, even the juice kiosk in the mall has a seating area and they may take your order at the counter (if you don’t have the good sense to sit down first) and then you are expected to sit down and be waited on. There is a security guard in the entrance to our building. He is actually more than that, sort of a manager as well, although he wears a blue uniform. Whenever we come in from the store carrying bags, he offers to help us by carrying the bags up to our apartment. We always refuse and thank him for the offer. We are so used to being self-sufficient Americans, that the offer still surprises us. The people in
service type jobs also seem very eager to serve and a little put out if you don’t let them. They differ from the surly American busboy who would much rather be doing something else, somewhere else. The American idea that anyone can be president, a star, rich, etc., makes a service job a negative thing. I don’t know enough about the cultures of the people in service jobs here to know how deep their positive attitude goes. Are they eager to please because they are genuinely eager to please or only because it is the demand of the job.

On days when I have to take a taxi home from work, I wait in the lobby of the college administration building. It is large round area with granite flooring. And, regular as clockwork, there is a man mopping that floor (apparently everyday) at 5:30 pm, whether it needs to be mopped or not. When he comes by where I am sitting, I raise my feet so that he can mop under them and this seems to amuse him. He may very well be saying to himself “crazy American.” Who knows.

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