09:00. Off to UDI (Immigration office) this morning to turn in our applications to stay another year.
I visited UDI a few weeks ago. The kids' permits expired at the beginning of June because their passports expire in August, and they will only put stickers in the passports valid until 3 months before the passport expires. I'm sure there's a good reason for this, something with sending in passports for renewal blah blah blah, but we first needed to get new passports for the kids (trip to Oslo we did last month) and then I was told to drop off the passports at UDI to get new stickers once we had the new passports. I was told I could do this on a Tuesday between 9 and 11 and there would be no wait, just drop them off.
Awesome. No wait at UDI would be some kind of miracle. So the first Tuesday after receiving our passports, and just a few days before their permits expired, I went to UDI and found that it was closed. There were nationwide strikes earlier in the month affected a wide variety of services, and apparently UDI was one of them. So I had to come back the following week, with the permits now expired. I was hoping there would be no trouble. Were the kids now in the country illegally?
When I returned the following Tuesday my heart sank. The line was out the door. It looked like the old days when we would have to wait the entire day. Was this all business that was delayed because of the strike? Did I have to wait in this line? I went inside to see what the line was for, and the line indeed went all the way to the 'express window' where I needed to drop off the passports. Many of these people it appeared were heading to the express window to sign up for an appointment. Could I cut in at the front to drop off my passports or not? If everyone's business in line is quick, then no I couldn't really do that. I would just wait in line until the window opened and see how fast it went. To the back of line with me, waiting with doubts. UDI is improving every year, but I still get this uncertain feeling every time, a bit of hopelessness, a bit of a nightmare. Maybe it would go quickly.
15 minutes after the window opened it became clear that the line wasn't moving. A woman came by and told us that they would not be able to serve everyone today. I asked her about my passports, and she wasn't sure. She offered to take the passports. When she saw I had six passports, the old and the new for each of my three kids, she balked. 'Make an appointment online' she recommended. I left frustrated, again. At my office, I logged into the website and tried to make an appointment, but found I could not make an appointment without putting in a whole new application. Ugh. So I called, waited 35 minutes on hold, and found out that (a) they're not doing stickers in passports anymore, they're doing immigration cards, (b) the kids are in the system as approved until August, they just don't have passport stickers to show it, and (c) I could go ahead with new applications for next year.
So, I filled out the online applications. Time intensive, but way way way better than the 100+ page application pack I turned in our first two years. I signed us up for appointments – no waiting all day in line like the old days! And last night I took pictures and printed them up.
I now have all of our applications in hand and ready to go. Here's hoping for an easy morning!
12:00. A few problems. I did not bring a copy of my contract, somehow I missed that on the instructions. Thank goodness we were signed up for a series of five 15-minute appointments from 10:00 until 11:15. I had time to drive to the university, pick up a copy of my contract and return while they were working on the kids' paperwork. I also apparently didn't pay the right amount, so I had an additional fee. The total cost for my family is 4100 kroner, about $750. This we pay every year for the right to work and live in Norway.
We were finished at 11:10, it really did take over an hour get our forms in order. Now we will wait to receive a letter in the fall and then we will make new appointments to come back in to get photos and fingerprints taken for the new immigration cards that are replacing passport stickers. We did NOT need to bring in photos this time. I will bring the photos with me this fall when we get called in, I don't know if we'll need them or not. We also did not need the kids' birth certificates or marriage license because this was a renewal. We did need the kids' old passports with the old stickers in them, so I'm glad I brought those. For future reference, it's best to bring EVERYTHING you have that you think they might want to see.
It's getting better every year, but it's still a kind of torture!