At least, that’s what I pretended, not without bitterness, was the reason I was standing in line, watching my breath vapor outside the immigration office again at 3:30 this morning. Although iPhones are not a legitimate reason to freeze outside overnight, if I were the kind of person who thought they were, then the thought of having an iPhone 6 would sustain me through the misery of the line-standing. And it did.

 

Three things made this adventure better than last time:
1. I loaded up my international SIM card, so the first hour of waiting was spent talking to Nathan until he went to bed.
2. Instead of getting a cab (which cost 35 euros last time, by the way), I rented an AirBnB for 25 euros that was within walking distance of the immigration office and owned by an Italian named, no joke, Luigi, who was very very nice once I figured out how to decipher the bizarre language switching that characterized our interactions.
3. I did not drink anything the evening before or the morning of the appointment. The importance of this cannot be overstated.

The reason I was here was that I was missing two documents last time I came to the office, namely an enrollment verification and proof of a blocked bank account with a year’s worth of funds in it.
TL;DR of the bank situation: I completed the money transfer last week and went to get the written proof yesterday. The money was gone from my normal bank account but was not in my blocked account. So I spent about an hour terrified that I’d lost about $10,000. Check out the picture to see why this would be so likely to happen. After I was sufficiently panicked, my Friendly Banker told me that transfers take more than 2 days–so on the bright side, my money wasn’t missing, but on the dark (down?) side, I wouldn’t be able to prove the existence of said money at the immigration office.

To do a money transfer, you fill out one of these forms and drop it in your bank’s mailbox. Then they process it whenever they feel like it.

Since I’d already paid for the AirBnB I decided to go ahead and try my luck at the immigration office even though I didn’t have all the paperwork. I took the perspective that it didn’t really matter whether I got a residence permit or not that day–I was just going to get information and to show them what I had (the letter confirming that the blocked account had been open, and a carbon copy of the form pictured above with the transfer info on it).

When my number flashed up on the screen, I met the woman who was now responsible for my future. She seemed pretty human–human, and with a great interest in Australia. She had a koala in a Santa hat on her desk, a “Tasmanian Devil Crossing” sign on her file cabinet, and pictures of beaches and barren red clay landscapes all over the walls. I told her what documents were missing and laid them on her desk.

“But this isn’t an enrollment certificate; this is your student ID. And this transfer form doesn’t prove anything. I can’t do anything for you.”

For the last two months, I have carried every single document I brought and/or have received with me at all times, just in case of situations like this. So I riffled through and found the correct enrollment document. It was all down to the bank account.  I decided to try an inside-out filibuster.
Her: “I really need the form from the bank.”
Me: (Silence)
Her: “I don’t know what I can do with what you’ve brought me.”
Me: (Silence)
Her: “…well, let me see…”
Me: (Silent finger dance)
Half an hour later, my pockets were significantly lighter (it’s ok though, it was just the visa fee), my fingerprints were on record (this makes me sad), and I had a new little booklet about caring for my new electronic residence permit.

Now, of course, I don’t actually get the residence permit until December (when I have to go back and also show them the Actual Documentation of my bank account), but the point is that I have gotten permission for it, and I will receive it soon, and until then I have a letter that I can carry around in case the cops think I’m an illegal immigrant.

You guys! Maybe there’s no iPhone, but I’m almost certainly not going home on a last-minute ticket in shame! And that’s way better, don’t you think?
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