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Archive for the ‘Visas’ Category

Clearance – Part 4

I left the travel agent empty handed on the first visit because despite the notice on the door to the ladies section stating the opening hours of 9am – 9pm, they actually closed at 3pm during Ramadan and didn’t open again until 9pm that night. I made a second trip the next morning and went through the standard process of booking a flight to Melbourne:

I present a flight voucher from KSU for a ticket to Canberra, I explain that I want to fly to Melbourne instead, travel agent spends 30 minutes trying to determine if a flight to Melbourne will be cheaper (it is), I present a list of the dates and times I specifically want to fly, travel agent books with the right carrier but wrong times, I insist that flights be changed to the ones I want, travel agent expresses concern with long stopover in Dubai, I explain the advantages of direct flights to Melbourne as opposed to stopovers in Asia, travel agent sits in confused silence but eventually relents to my demands.

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Clearance – Part 3

I think I have mentioned it before but the university administration is broken up into two sections, male only and female only. Obviously, I had never had any interaction with anyone outside of the ladies’ section, as I’m not allowed into the men’s building. That all changed, however, when I arrived at the ladies’ section requesting signatures for my clearance. I was advised by one of the ladies in finance that I had to get a signature from the finance manager before anyone else could sign my form and he could only be reached by entering the men’s section. This put me at a significant disadvantage as I don’t travel with a man in waiting who could run errands for me when the need arose, such as this one. My lack of male escort seemed to surprise and confuse some of the ladies, who offered the solution of trying to talk to the security guards at the entrance to the building.

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Clearance – Part 2

Now that I had the proper forms the real work began. I visited a number of departments at both the hospital and the university on multiple occasions and returned with a total of three signatures. It had become apparent that almost every single manager was away on vacation during the final weeks of July. Immediately before the start of Ramadan (August 1st) a number of staff members returned from their holidays and I was fortunate enough to obtain another five signatures before the inevitable slow down approached. By this time I had seen more of the hospital than ever, met people who had never seen me before (and believe me, I stick out) and asked for their signature to state that I didn’t owe them anything. It was all a little confusing, and I make it sound a lot easier than it was. Very rarely did I arrive at an office the first time and be granted a signature, either the person with the authority to sign my paperwork wasn’t there (“after salat” or “maybe tomorrow” were the most frequent responses to my queries) or I was presented with the department’s own form that I needed to fill in and get signed by someone else before a signature would be granted. There was even one department that no one knew about. For that signature I was sent to various offices, only to be told I was in the wrong place and sent somewhere else where I got the same response. In the end I found a very nice man who knew who I needed to find and instead of sending my off somewhere else, called the man and got him to come to me. I have to admit that while the process was frustrating, I did meet some very nice people.

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Clearance – Part 1

Unlike most countries, when you decide to quit your job in Saudi Arabia you can’t just pack up your things and leave on the next flight out. Why? Because all travel both into and out of the country is tightly regulated by the issuance of visas. That’s right, you don’t just need a visa to enter the country, you also need one to exit it. I’ve written in great depth about the initial entry visa process and I was pretty sure that it couldn’t get much harder than that to acquire a visa, however, I was surprised to find that it paled in comparison the headache I had to endure to get my final exit visa out of Saudi Arabia, otherwise known as clearance.

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My visa has been approved!

One quick sentence in an email and there it is. I received a ‘Hurrah!’ for those around me and that was it, back into work. To be honest, I don’t really know how to feel. I’m happy and excited but I’ve been waiting for so long that its more of a sense of relief. Finally its done. Now I can get excited instead of frustrated. It will be good to move forward.

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Frustration.

Still no visa. My responses are getting less optimistic by the week.

Not really much to say but I have sent an email to my agent at the SACM in Canberra to plead with her to do something to get things moving again. It’s been 6 weeks now since the issue was raised about my visa number and I don’t think we’ve moved much further past that point yet. To say its frustrating is quite an understatement. I don’t like feeling helpless so its very annoying that there is little I can do but send emails asking what is going on every now and then. Unfortunately, I seem to get the same response, which is not encouraging.

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So when are you leaving?

Same old response… don’t know yet.

I haven’t heard anything since Monday but I do know that my agent and the secretary at the dept have been conversing. Unfortunately there’s only an overlap of 3 days in the working week so what doesn’t get done on Monday to Wednesday is left to be dealt with the following week. Starting to relax into the unknown again a little, but I do hope they sort out this problem soon. It is rather worrying when my agent claims that she’s never had this happen before. Lucky me huh? This is why I don’t gamble.

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