July has been a month for paperwork.
My passport expires in November so I need a new one before we go to Turkey in September as all countries seem to have this six month rule about expiry dates. Canada has actually simplified things for an ex-pat applying out of country. Two page form and new pictures.
I will pick it up in Kyiv next week. THEN I have to take it to Dnipropetrovs’k to the Immigration office there to get a stamp on the back page regarding my permanent residency. When I leave and when I return, Ukrainian passport control check my Ukrainian permanent residency card against the stamp in the back. Ten working days at the Canadian Embassy to get a new passport and GOK how long to get the stamp in the back.
Tanya has a new 10 year international passport and is applying for a 10 year multi-entry Canadian visa. THAT used to be simple. Two pages, pictures and a few documents. Six years ago she dropped off her application for a five year passport in the morning and had it in the afternoon. She had been to Canada three times before and always returned so I guess they figured she was OK. The biggest worry that Canada has is that someone might want to stay. Harper is working on solving that problem, taking a leaf from the Republican playbook and turning the country into some place no one wants to stay.
Three PDF forms to fill out and you can only download them on Internet Explorer. Once you have saved them, you can open them on Adobe Acrobat Reader DC if you don’t actually have Adobe software. If you want to have a look, Google CIC IMM 5257, IMM 5645 and IMM 5257-Schedule 1. Gathering the information was a pain but at least we’ll have it for next time. Oh, and I had to fill out IMM 5257-Schedule 1 as well.
My favourite question is Check “Yes” or “No” to indicate if you have ever been a member or associated with any political party, or other group or organization which has engaged in or advocated violence as means to achieving a political or religious objective, or which has been associated with criminal activity at any time. I mean, think about it. If you were ever a member of ANY political party, you ought to answer YES if the Party ever voted in favour of any military action. And they are all associated with criminal activity at some time or another, whether they admit it or not.
So Tanya was a member of the Communist Party in her youth. She was the secretary of the local Komsomol (youth group) on the state farm where her folks worked. This sort of thing was a must if you were going to get anywhere with a career back in Soviet times. Part of her job was to organize parties and help the kids fill out application forms to go to university. We put NO.
The forms are filled out and almost all supporting documents gathered. We’ll drop it off at the Visa Application Centre (VAC) when we go to pick up my passport. Almost all EU countries are using the same VAC. This is a private company contracted to gather the applications and documents, check them for completeness and pass them on to the appropriate Embassy. This saves the Embassies a huge amount of time and money. So how come it will take 10 or 15 working days to get her visa?
Tanya reaches retirement age in mid-August and will go to P’yatikhatki that day (she says) to apply for her pension. For days I have been scanning and printing documents for her. People are responsible for their own records in this country (and in Russia). For example, doctor doesn’t keep your health records; you do. Tanya has the originals of her birth certificate, her university degree, the boys’ birth certificates, marriage and divorce documents, land title and ALL her work records – where she worked, job title, how long, what pay etc. Everything. So all this has been copied to apply for her pension.
In a way, this makes sense. This part of the world has been in an uproar for a hundred years, “some days more than others”. Systems change, people change (or disappear), borders change, wars come and go. Where and how would one establish a permanent record storage and expect to find your documents in 25 or 40 years? Hang on to them yourself and you have them. What happens in case of fire or flood, I have no idea. I expect that most documents could be rebuilt from scratch but I shudder to think of it.