Being an Immigrant . . . As Written by Sarah

Posted by Tim on 20 September 2008 - 11:57am

Living in another country is full of adventures- some more pleasant than others. Dealing with immigration is one of those many adventures, which I had the pleasure of dealing with recently. ;) Coming into the country in March was no problem and we all received our G.N.I.B cards (like a green card) on our first attempt.

At that time I was given a “stamp 3” on my passport, which stated that I was not allowed to go to school or get a job here. I hadn’t foreseen this problem, so I asked the immigration officer what to do if I wanted to go to school here. He went to ask someone and came back with a list of things I needed to do in order to change my status.

  • I needed to: be accepted at a school here,
  • open an Irish bank account with 1,000 euro, and
  • leave and reenter the country.

He assured me that if I brought the proper paperwork with me when I left the country that the customs officer at the airport would take care of it. By the end of May I had decided to go to the Irish Bible Institute (IBI), so I started working on getting everything I needed to change my immigration status.

In August, I happily took a trip to London with the family, which doubled as the fulfillment to the requirement. Back at the Dublin airport I explained my situation to the customs officer, who promptly told me that all such issues were dealt with at the Guarda station in town (which is where we were in March getting our G.N.I.B. cards). So this wasn’t going to be as simple as I thought! I shrugged and went back to the Guarda station to see what they said this time.

After a short wait in the queue, I was matter-of-factly informed that I needed another reference letter stating that I’d paid my tuition at IBI and that I hadn’t needed to leave the country at all! Once again, I set out to fulfill their requirements. It really all does depend on who you talk to, so I was a bit fearful that I would be told something different upon my return to the Guarda station.

It’s interesting and, I must admit, a bit humbling to be an immigrant at the mercy of whichever immigration officer I happen to be assigned to. However, I know that in reality, my true citizenship is in heaven and that my Father is One in control! With this in mind, I went back to the very familiar guarda station to try my “luck” again. After waiting for about 4 ½ hours, it was my turn to speak to the immigration officer. She examined my papers and began looking very carefully at every page of my passport! “Have you left the country since March, “ she asked, “I can’t find a stamp.” I explained what I’d been told at the airport (and did my best to hide my irritation =), but she told me that she had to refuse my request. She then said something about talking to her supervisor and disappeared for a while.

When she came back, she seemed to have forgotten what she’d said because she looked at my papers again, scanned my fingerprints, and issued me my new card! The very next morning I legally went into orientation at the Irish Bible Institute!! As much fun as this whole adventure was, I’m very glad not to have to go back to the guarda station again…until next year. =) No worries though, because the Lord already has that sorted too…