Friday, March 18, 2011

Ministry of the Interior, take two

After our attempt to get my B1 Israeli Work Visa (requires renewal every 6 months) converted to an A5 Temporary Resident Visa (requires renewal once per year, and makes me eligible not only to work, but to access Israeli healthcare) at our meeting with the Ministry of the Interior on February 27th, we went back yesterday.

The reason they didn't upgrade me on the spot last time, was that they said they were waiting for the additional document they asked for in August.  They wanted a document stating that I have no prior marriages or children (the only document in the US which says this is the marriage license, and mine said right on there no prior marriages.)  So I went in September to the US Embassy and paid $50 for the notary on a letter I wrote saying I have never been previously married nor do I have any children.  But the lawyers said we'd just bring this to the 6 month renewal meeting, where we'd likely get the A5 upgrade with teodat zehut (Israeli ID #, like a social security #).  When we got there in February, the MOI rep said they had booked a meeting to receive the documents, but not to do our interviews, so we would have to come back, and their next available appointment wasn't until May.  This led to general Israeli arguing between the MOI reps, the lawyers, and Dan.  It worked.  We got our interviews scheduled for yesterday, March 17.

I wore green to the interview (it was St. Patrick's Day afterall, a big holiday in my family, because it's my sister's birthday!).  I was interviewed first, and the rep began by asking about Dan's trip to Dubai, and why I went with him, and how he got there in the first place (Israeli's can't go to Dubai, but American's can.)  She asked me who cleans our apartment, if I like cooking, what I cook for Dan (pretty sexist if you ask me), what I got him for his last birthday (to which my answer was, I think nothing.  geeze, are we married or what?).  She asked where we lived before, how we met, what my hobbies are, etc.  I warmed her up when I explained that I was attending Ulpan (hebrew lessons), and used a little on her.  Meanwhile, Dan and the lawyers (yes, two of them came with us this time) were wondering why it was taking so long.  When I was done, I explained to them that I had to rephrase a lot due to her less than fluent English skills (but who can blame her, at least she was willing to do it in English or I would have been up a creek.)

Dan was up next.  When he was done, the MOI rep said we'd have to come back in 2 weeks for a decision.  This led to an additional argument, some speaking with the manager, and then a response of, "we never make exceptions like this,"  which according to the lawyers was a load of B.S.  Oh, and the additional paperwork they asked for on Feb 28th, 12 additional months of paystubs and bank statements, weren't necessary this time.  The rules are made.  Then they are changed.  Why?  The agent's mood, the weather, who knows.  This is Israeli (maybe middle east) culture.  It's not exact or precise.  There's a guidebook.  But it's just a suggestion.  More often than not, it will change, as quickly as an Israeli's mood.

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