15 February 2008

Frustrating (and inefficient) Beauracracy !

After numerous visits to the office of foreign affairs in Rīga we still do NOT have our residence permits for Latvia.

In order for us to submit our paperwork, the UMC's District office here has to submit paperwork. We checked the internet site of the foreign affairs office here, printed those instructions, and then went to the office just to make sure the information corresponded. We spent time asking detailed questions about which forms and how many of each, what letters need to be written and whose signature needed to appear, etc...

A few days later we returned with the proper documentation and we were told that one of the letters was wrong (even though it was exactly like they told us a few days before). We left and returned two days later with the proper letter (in two various formats to anticipate a change in plans) and they told us we had the correct format but we lacked a signature (one that they said was not required on the previous trip).

We went to that office only to find that they were moving - we phoned them and the lady said, "Come tomorrow, no problem, we'll sign and stamp the letter for you." (She said this even though they were moving. I have to say this office has been the only helpful one in this entire process!) So the next day I brought the letter and they signed and stamped it - no problem.
We brought this letter to foreign affairs and they said it was in the wrong format (even though they approved the format on the previous visit) and that we had to put it in a different format and get a new stamp and new signature. - Thankfully the office that was moving complied once again and helped us out by signing and stamping the letter.

During this entire process, I held on to a conversation I had with the Latvian Embassy in the U.S. (D.C.) before we arrived. I asked, "Where do I need to send my forms to have them processed? D.C., New York, somewhere else?" The cordial reply, "You can submit them to any embassy, or, if you happen to be in Riga, you can submit them to the proper office there." Astonished I asked, "Really, some countries require one to submit an application outside of their country - I can really submit them in Riga?" Again a pleasant voice, "Of course you can submit them in Riga - it is no problem."

So, imagine my surprise the other day when, after they finally accepted the District Office's forms and letters, they told us, "Now you know that you cannot turn the applications in here - the closest places are Estonia or Lithuania. You will have to schedule an appointment with the Latvian Consulate in those countries."

Here is the process - we travel to Estonia, meet with the official in their office, submit the application and pay the fee for that application (because of the long delay in this process, we now have to pay for expedited processing). Then we have to pay an additional "Consular processing fee" (because we submitted the application outside of the country (yet they won't accept the application within the country!) and they will send the applications via courier to the office in Riga where they will end up on the same person's desk that I could hand it to in person. Remember, at this point they don't read or process the applications - they simply take them from us, ask us what we plan to do in Latvia, and then place them in an envelope.
However, since they only send a courier twice a month, if we want to have the applications expedited, then we have to pay a courier fee on top of the expedited fee.

Frustrating and inefficient beauracracy!!
-just thought we would share the insanity with you...

1 comment:

  1. Wow - keep us updated in this Dan!
    Hope it gets sorted. I would never have been able to be this patient, but then I guess you have no choice.