Alien Bureaucracy, Part #2July 30, 2007
Our first stop in Nicosia was the Aliens Immigration office. We found the place with no trouble and headed inside. There we were met with a waiting room packed to the hilt with people. As we looked around for a reception desk or similar we were struck by two things. Firstly we were the only Caucasian faces in the room. There were people from the Algeria and Morocco and the Indian sub-continent but not a soul from Northern Europe. Considering just the number of British on the island that seemed slightly odd. The second oddity was a large handwritten notice stating this the office dealt only with Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Housemaids. Yes, housemaids. If you have a half-decent explanation for that one please share!
A little searching found a second, smaller, handwritten notice stating that all other folks needed to go to a different address; #11 Something Street in Nicosia. We made a note of the address, and headed back to the car and our local street map. Having found the address we headed off across Nicosia on leg 2 of our adventure.
Eastbound across Nicosia … avoiding the roundabout exit which would take us into the UN buffer zone and get us arrested … round the industrial area … quick wave at Customs House who hold the file on the car … through a small shopping street and into a residential area.
The street in question was also residential, surely a strange place for an Immigration office? Medium sized detached houses, children’s toys in the gardens, granny watching over the garden fence, empty plot where #11 should be. Just to be sure we drove up and down the street three times. Granny was both intrigued and baffled but there was no question that #11 didn’t have a government office and probably hadn’t had for ten years or more, if ever.
With few other options we headed back to the original building to see if there was anyone who could throw light on things. The old tried and tested method of wandering into random offices and asking for help worked wonders. A lovely young lady chuckled at our confusion and explained that we didn’t need the “Immigration Office, you need the Migration Office as you are from Europe!“. A quick mark on our map and we were on our way again, searching for the Ministry of Interior.
After three circuits of the embassy district we found the place. For reference, should you ever need to know, the Migration Office for Europeans is just to the right of the Aliens Immigration office for Circus Performers (Note: we really, really have to start carrying a camera. Even after a year hear we are still amazed at some of the things we seed). We headed inside and picked a queue to join. In an office 20 foot square there were four; one running from front left to back left, one from front right to back right, one from left to right and one from right to left. It’s possible that you can see the downsides of such a set-up, even without knowing that there were almost forty people in the four queues and another half dozed seated at the back of the room.
After 15 minutes of queuing we got to the front. Having explained our problem – pink slips are lovely but we’d really, really like yellow ones please - the women pulled up our details. “Sorry, they are not ready. But, if you will wait I will see what I can do” said she and disappeared into a back office with our details. An hour later she reappeared with a list of additional documentation they wanted to see so we headed back home for another round of paper chasing and the like with the plan to return the following afternoon, the only day of the week when they open for an afternoon session.