Delightful Farangland – Waiting For My Asian Wife 3 (End)
To marry your third-world gal, you have to deal with many institutions: your registry office, the aliens' office, the High Court, and your embassy in her country.
All these institutions have different, sometimes contradictory expectations. For a wedding visa (unlike a tourist visa), do we need a travel insurance and a letter of commitment? The embassy says something, the aliens' office says something else. The registry office says it's none of their business. Two weeks later, the aliens' office has completely changed its opinion about the letter of commitment, while the embassy gave up any clear directions and says "I cannot tell you any requirements now, first I have to see both of you. Just come first."
Occasionally, the government agencies interact. For example, the embassy will ask the aliens' office if they have any objections against a wedding visa for your gal. To give an OK here, the aliens' office demands a paper from the registry office that I have been informed about the complete legal requirements. They don't demand a paper from the *embassy* that they have informed me about any requirements, even though that can be much more tricky (as the embassy is so vague). In all the dealings with the bored to arrogant authorities, I often get a feeling of being stupid or acting indecently. Halfway supportive is only the registry office.
Of course all these institutions levy hefty fees regardless of you being a highly milked tax payer for a long time. Only a few of those office scenes I can clearly recall, much more of my administrative odyssey is happily forgotten. Here are just two or three scenes of my trek along the linoleum floors of my beloved country's administration.
— AT THE ALIENS' OFFICE —
I wait for my man in the aliens' office. 10 a.m. morning, I sit on a chair in the corridor for 20 minutes, his office is empty. Finally he strolls along, a big smile and a big bag of bakeries in his hand. He is the stronger one here.
He says: "To approve a wedding visa, we don't demand many papers from you or your fiancée. Just make sure the embassy doesn't demand anything special, whatever that may be."
I call the embassy. They say: "To issue a wedding visa, we don't demand many papers from you or your fiancée. Just make sure the aliens' office doesn't demand anything special, whatever that may be."
— FIRST TELEPHONE TALK WITH THE EMBASSY —
With the embassy, I had exchanged a string of e-mails. Always the same Mrs D. with very short, abrupt answers. Now to play it very very safe, I want to call her and get a verbal confirmation of how I understand her instructions. She knows our situation. It's 3.15 p.m. in her time zone.
"She is in a meeting", says the operator with an Asian accent, "please call again 30 minutes later". I call again 50 minutes later. It's 4.05 pm Bangkok time. A taped voice informs me that the embassy is closed.
I call the next day, 2 pm local time. I get the same operator with the Asian accent. "Sorry", he says, "Mrs D. is on holiday now." – "For how long?" – "Ahm, uhm, maybe for about seven weeks."
— SECOND TELEPHONE TALK WITH THE EMBASSY —
On the telephone, another embassy guy says for her wedding visa my fiancée must present a return airplane ticket.
Why a *return* ticket, I ask?
He: Ah, those Asian ladies, they quickly realize Farangland's too cold for them, they run away all the time! Have seen it before, will happen again.
I: As you see from her papers, she has been to Farangland several times, including cold times. And you see just from our expenses that we are both very serious about the relationship.
He: Ha, expenses, I've been married for 30 year, now THAT's expenses I tell you.
Now which papers we have to bring for the wedding visa, I ask again?
He: I cannot tell you now, first I have to see both of you. Just come first.
He refuses to understand that once in Asia to finalize her wedding visa, I can't bring any more papers from my town government. Between the lines, the embassy says stop bothering us with your dull private self-centered marriage business. Have seen it before, will happen again.
— AT THE REGISTRY OFFICE —
My embassy over there wants to see an original document that the registry office in Farangland insists to keep in my hometown – one of the contradictory directions I get.
I go to the registry office and ask what could be done about the paper. He says he will do a photocopy and goes to the next room. When he comes back he hacks something into his PC, then says to me: "I've made photocopy and a PDF file of the document, too. I've just emailed the PDF to the embassy, explaining that the original will stay here, but that we know of you and your intentions. Here is the photocopy for you. For the e-mail, I've put you on CC, so now you have the PDF file on your hard disk too."
— AT THE EMBASSY —
After a security check that makes me feel like a well-known suicide bomber, we are allowed into the embassy of my country. In the middle of hot hectic SE Asia, we arrive at an oasis of orderliness and boredom – the waiting room of a European embassy. We draw a number, later talk to an Asian lady through glass and microphone; she quite struggles with my country's language and repeatedly asks for my confirmation of her try-and-error sentences.
The procedure is fast. Mainly they need
– my fiancée's passport and some passport pictures,
– a copy of my passport,
– a certificate that our wedding plan has been approved at the registry office in my hometown (which implies that her birth certificates etc. are ok)
– 42 USD
Of course we have prepared all this.
Three weeks later the lady calls me (not my fiancée) that she can pick up the visa. I ask her about all the requirements for the wedding visa we were told about: Do we need a letter of commitment? At the advice of my aliens' office I've already bought a letter of commitment for 25 USD. No, says the embassy lady, you don't need a letter of commitment.
I have more worries: We were told we need a return air ticket and a travel insurance for my fiancée?
None of this, says the embassy lady. Just show a one-way ticket to Europe, and you can fly out together to marry.