We are official residents of Qatar! Every time we have moved to a new country we have had to establish residency in our host country. Obviously every country has its own rules on how to go about it depending on your citizenship, and now we have had a very different experiences as one can imagine.
In Norway, we entered as U.S. citizens, which meant that my husband first had to receive his residency before I could apply for mine. Based off of his employment, I was then entitled to join him in Norway. Every year though I had to go through the renewal process to retain residency though nothing had changed in our personal lives. It was always frustrating because of the amount of documentation that was required, such as copies of passports, documenting dates of our travels outside of Norway, proof of income and proof that I hadn’t received any social benefits. Not to mention that there always seemed to be a back log to process through the citizen service center. Processing times ranged from weeks to months.
The worst in memory was our first year in Norway because I had been outside the U.S. for more than 90 days and had yet to receive residency. We were leaving for a quick weekend trip to Latvia, thinking that since my papers were submitted there wouldn’t be any issues. We assumed wrong. At the airport, the border patrol agent informed me that I would not be able to return to Norway until I had received my residency stamp. Immediately we were on the phone with the lawyers and scheming that I would stay in Latvia until everything was sorted out. Long story short, we were told that my papers were sitting right on top at the citizen service center and were the next ones to be processed. My weekend trip to Latvia thankfully lasted for the planned duration, and not the potential several months. Though daily life would have been a lot cheaper had I stayed in Latvia!
In Denmark, we registered as Latvian citizens and established residency both at the same time by just filling out forms. Thank you European Union!
In Qatar the usual required documentation was necessary, passport copies, marriage certificate, birth certificate, etc. Standard fare. But then the tests. What?!
The tests were something new to us. First we were taken to the medical commission where we both had a blood test taken to see if we were HIV positive and had chest X-rays taken to screen for tuberculosis. A few days later we were off to another medical facility to have an additional blood test to verify which blood type we have. Fortunately, this was the only test that our son had to take, crying sadly. Our third and final verification was to the immigration police ministry where we had a thorough finger print scan – each finger and palm electronically scanned. Our eyes were scanned as well. To me, all these tests were a bit intimidating because we were separated into different parts of whatever building we had to go to, men on one side, women to the other side. Hearing my husbands experience, he definitely got the VIP treatment having a person from the company accompany him. He was able to cut lines and even sat in some room that served tea and water while waiting. I, on the other hand, felt like going through some cattle call, sitting in a room for at least 45 minutes, not sure exactly what was going on with little instruction. Several of my fellow resident hopefulls where also quite irritated, and one even raised her voice seeking guidance. Great initiative, however rebuffed quickly as she was sent to the back of the line. Sometimes you just have to know your place and shut up and sit down. Glad it is over as once was enough!
The light at the end of the tunnel is that now having established residency here in Qatar, we can open a local bank account, exchange our driver’s license and request a license to purchase alcohol! One door closes and many open!