Great news! I am not getting deported from Nepal. Not that anyone told me that would happen, but I just assumed that happens to people who don’t sort out their residency paperwork in a foreign country. Figuring out how to legally stay in Nepal has been a challenge. There are no real sources of information that you could trust in terms of regulating your stay here. I knew that once I came to Nepal, Mr.B. and I needed to legalize our Croatian marriage certificate and get me a non-tourist visa, but we had no idea how to go about doing that. We asked around and tried to figure out the correct process, but guess what, there is really no correct process. My understanding is that it all comes down to who you know. I might be wrong, but that’s how I see it.
We gathered a bunch of paperwork which Mr.B. filled out because it was all in Nepali; we got many passport-sized photos of ourselves and off we went to a Chief District Administrative Office to submit our case. Fast forward couple of phone calls, and we are now told to wait for 15 days until our certificate was made. We were to come back with three witnesses. 15 days later in we go with some wonderful friends and co-workers (who took time out of their day to do this for us – Thank You!) and, lo and behold, the certificate is not done. Maybe I just had wrong expectations. You see, when they told us to come back in 15 days, I expected to walk in, guy would pull out our certificate, we would all sign in a matrimony registration book and we go home singing. No. That’s definitely not what happened. Here is how it all went down: we walked into a cramped little stuffy office and explained what we needed. After some exchange in Nepali the file was pulled out, dusted off and three separate people took their time going through all the paperwork, only to give it back to the first person who looked at it. Some exchange in Nepali again (be warned: half of the time I had no idea what was going on or what was being said, so all of this is my subjective view of the process). We are given our file and ushered into a room next door. A person sitting there looked at the file, said something, wrote something on a piece of paper, and off we went to a third room. Again more reading and signing. And then a fourth room. No luck in the fourth room – the guy just stepped out for his lunch break. We used the opportunity to get out and get marriage certificate forms. We come back just as the guy came back and in we go. He asks me who found whom, and I, of course, say I was the one who found Mr.B. Apparently that was the correct answer since we got the needed signature and out we went. Back to the first room. We fill our own marriage certificate, but then we are informed we need to go back to room No.3 for some more signatures. Off we go. Signatures are obtained and back to the first room it is. We fill out the matrimony registration book ourselves, sign everything, get some stamps on our marriage certificate and voilà! Done. Just like that. Easy peasy. Not.
Next day is the auspicious day for going into the Immigration Office. Again, we are met with lots of desk to desk, door to door shuffling. For me it seems even more obnoxious and useless since I have no idea what they are all saying and I don’t know the reasons for being sent from one door to the other. All of the bureaucrats there looked at our file with utter disinterest, not to say disgust discarding it in a pile of others unfortunate foreigners hoping for a fair process. It all felt like a court trial of the worst kind. Apparently, luckily, the immigration officer took a liking to us and was very accommodating promising that he will speed up the process if we come back tomorrow. Mr.B. went in the following day and I don’t know what he did and how many doors he had to knock on, but I am sitting here on the couch right now looking at my non-tourist marriage visa stamped in my passport. I am a temporary resident of Nepal for the next year.
Now, about that work permit…