Bermuda immigration woes

Hello my dear reader,

as the author of this blog, I have been going through the stories and thinking that they have, perhaps, been a little too upbeat. It’s almost like everything has gone perfectly smoothly for us, except for finding a place to live. Well, get ready for a less cheerful experience…

It’s pretty common for people who come to Bermuda to find work before they come here. It’s actually easier to get a working permit as a foreign hire than if you were already in Bermuda. The laws here are so in favour of locals over foreign hires that it doesn’t really make any sense to come here without a job already agreed. Then, the usual process is that the employer applies for a 3-month work permit with which you can enter the country and stay for 3 months. Without such a permit, the maximum stay in the country would have been 3 weeks, which is the maximum length for a tourist.

In my case, exactly the same applied. I was issued a 3-month visa and got sent a copy of it through email. I used it to get through immigration and received the original when I got to work. However, for Jitka, the process was a little different. She entered the country on a tourist visa and we knew that we would have to apply for an extension of her stay in the country. The original plan was to apply for an extension to 3 months, to align with my visa. Once I then applied for the 3-year visa, she becomes a dependant on my work permit and all visa issues go away. Well, for 3 years anyway…

So, with Jitka’s 3-week tourist stay about to run out, we went to immigration with all our papers to apply for the extension. We got a ticket and waited for our number to come up. When it did, we spoke to a rather large bored-looking lady. She didn’t seem overly keen to help us (unlike most Bermudians we’ve dealt with so far) but, in the end, she said that someone would be out shortly to have a word with us. About a half an hour went by and this pleasant looking gentleman popped out. He introduced himself as Inspector something-or-other and sat us down in a private room. He said that “they” had decided not to issue Jitka with a 3-month visa. They instead had decided that only a 2-month visa was in order. Why? I don’t know… It may be partly to do with the fact that my full application isn’t with the office yet but, either way, with Jitka being my wife, if I were to leave in 3 months, wouldn’t she come with me anyway? So, we were told that Jitka would have to leave the country in 2 months’ time and reenter in order to be able to apply for a new visa again. Of course, we have a return ticket from our journey here (it’s needed for the transit visa through Canada but also because it’s part of my contract that my employer pays for my flights) but the return leg is set for 3 months from our arrival. The idea is that, if anything was to happen (like me getting fired, the company going bust or me deciding that I didn’t want to live in Bermuda for the next three years) we can always back out from the relocation and return to Europe. We told this to our inspector but he promptly ignored it. He said that we would either have to move Jitka’s ticket one month back or get a ticket to anywhere and back so she can renew her visa. Changing the return leg of the ticket would be a stupid thing to do because Jitka would either have to break her return trip or lose the ticket to Europe from Canada (remember, we few via Canada from Frankfurt) and it would be too expensive either way. Instead, the only thing we could do was to buy her a new ticket. We chose New York… so Jitka is off to New York for 3 days in February to keep the idiot from the immigration office happy. In other words, for a difference of less than a month, we have had to spend $300 so far and a lot more if Jitka decides to go shopping…

All the guy at the office had to do was to think for a minute but that seemed too hard for him. We’re married, flew into the country together, I have a 3-month visa. If my job goes to shit, what do I do? Leave and take Jitka with me… so what is the point in not extending her stay to the same length as my own stay? I have no idea. The only idea is that he owns stock in the airlines and wanted us to raise their earnings.

There you go, not all is beautiful in Bermuda, there are sticklers to the rules here also… Anyway, we have found a place to live at least so there will be more stories on the blog soon. Everyone take care and keep checking the blog for updates.

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