In these uncertain economic times it’s probably a good idea to be cautious and careful. So with that in mind we decided that it might be prudent for me to change from a husband-sponsored to a company-sponsored visa, that way if anything (G*d forbid) should happen to Stu’s job, then we aren’t both visa-less, and can hopefully avoid the drama being visa-less would unleash, especially with the bank (but we won’t go into that again).
I started the conversation about this with our PRO* at work a few weeks back. This is the procedure (in a nutshell) to get your visa changed:
*in case you are wondering the PRO is a local Emirati employed by the company to handle all the bureaucratic red-tape issues. Trust me, without one, you don’t get anything done easily or quickly.
Now point number 3 above is where the fun and games began for me yesterday. Our dear PRO let me know this week, when I enquired as to the status of my new visa, that it was all waiting on me cancelling my existing visa. OK, clearly my mental telepathy was acting up as I missed the message somewhere, but no mind, I set out to get it sorted out.
First challenge was finding out where to go. But luckily Stu knew where the Department of Naturalisation and Residency – Dubai (or DNRD for short) is. Their website is here if you are so inclined. So after dropping him off at a meeting I went over there (feeling very smug that I am no longer getting lost all the time). My arrival was rather ill timed as I arrived at the busiest part of the day (lunch time), my only consolation was the parking was free as it was between 1 and 4pm.
Passport clutched in my now perspiring hand I followed the throngs of people inside. I spotted a “cancellation and amendments” option on the sign board, thinking to myself that this was going to be as easy as H (our PRO) had said. After walking the length and breath of the residency section (happily air-conditioned) I had not seen another sign mentioning cancellations. So back to the information desk I went, to be told that it was “there at the end, other section”. Somewhat confused by this crystal clear information I walked all the way back out the other side and through another set of doors. This was clearly the “business class” section of DNRD. No hard wooden benches and plastic chairs too be seen, oh no, lovely upholstered antique looking chairs. My second clue that I might be in the wrong place was there were only Emiratis in national dress to be seen. The lady behind the information counter finally finished her phone call and barked “yes?” at me. She confirmed what I feared, I had to head back into the melee next door.
On the way back into the first hall from the other side I spotted a tiny cancellation sign with an arrow pointing left. These counters on the left had looked to me like typing counters (with no signs) so I discounted them, big mistake, as this is where I needed to be. I sat down next to a gent who looked like he may speak the England, and he confirmed I was in the right place and that I could go ahead he was not in the queue.
After I explained what I needed the gent behind the counter instructed me that I should be in the ladies section (obviously, how did I miss that) which was off in the back corner. So in there I went and took a number. I had just sat down when the floor manageress asked me if she could help. Again I explained what I needed, she asked me if I had the cancellation letter (DOH?) and 80 dirhams (about 20 dollars). I had 100 dirhams cash in my wallet but sadly I had no letter. So all the way back outside I had to go to the typing section (which I had spotted on my way in), pay another 30 dirhams for a letter typed in arabic requesting my visa cancellation.
Back inside I went, stopping briefly at the information counter to make sure I had in fact now got everything I needed. “yes yes” was the curt reply. Back to the ladies section. I took another number and sat down. The same helpful lady asked me if I had everything now. I smiled and confidently said “yes”. Oh no I was informed that the 80 dirhams is not paid in cash, no no, you have to go back to the first counter as you come in and buy a 80 dirham sticker. OK, back out I went, to the nominated counter.
“No no ma’am you have to go to the ladies cashier”.
“Where is it?”
“There ma’am” with a vague gesture off to the right.
So whilst keeping my eye on him I walked slowly to the next counter along. Nope he shook his head. The next one? Big nods… bingo. (Not sure why its a ladies cashier as there were still men behind it). Anyway. I bought my sticker and back I went, hopefully still in time for my place in the queue.
Finally I was ready to face the lady behind the desk. She took all my forms and my passport with a smile. She was very interested, almost concerned, about why I was cancelling, but seemed somewhat reassured when I told her that I wasn’t leaving, merely changing visas.
Then she asked me who had sponsored my visa.
“Okay where is he?”
“He is at the office, not here.”
“Oh dear, very sorry, he must sign the form” she told me, and also that she needs a copy of his visa and his passport. “So sorry, but we are open until 8” she said as she handed everything back to me.
Grrrrr. It was now after 2. I had to get all the way to the mall to buy a dress for my birthday dinner, get all the way to the house to fetch Stu’s passport, all the way to Media City to fetch him from his meeting to get all the way back to Bur Dubai to get the cancellation done on the same day (yes incidentally the form and 80 dirham sticker are dated and only valid for that day) and then back to Umm Suquiem for a 4.30pm appointment. Sigh.
I can however now tell you that I managed all that, even finding a lovely dress for my birthday dinner party at Il Rustico last night, which was FABULOUS.
It feels weird to be in visa-limbo. Lets hope getting the new one is easier. 🙂