Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Residency update (UPDATED)

I really appreciate all of you praying for us, as we are trying to get temporary residency here. I thought I'd try to give you an update of where we are in this, but I have to start with a glossary of terms. So here goes:
  • OVIR - the department that handles visas and immigration. I think it's actually called something else here now, but Russian speakers tend to say OVIR, like in Russia. OVIR is somehow a branch of police.
  • propiska - what Ukrainian (and Russian) citizens get to show where they live. Utility costs are based on how many people are propisani in an apartment. Many people are propisan in one place and live in another. Propiski are done through housing authorities.
  • registration - this was/is required for people coming into Ukraine (and Russia) on visas. You come in on a visa, but you stay with registration. Registration is done through OVIR.
(If you've never lived in this part of the world, your eyes are probably glazed over by now. If you have lived here, you're probably laughing. )

Now I'll try to explain. Will was flying along, gathering the documents we need to apply for temporary residency. One of those is a propiska. Over the course of several days, Will went and talked to our landlord about it, asked about the process at the local passport office, talked to our building chairman, and had our building passport lady fill out our forms in quadruplicate. He was pretty much running around non-stop. Then he went back to the building chairman for his stamp and signature. The chairman called our landlord for his approval, and he used the word "propiska" this time. So, our landlord refused. He had no problem with us being registered here, or even something a little more official, but he was not going to agree to an actual propiska. Dead end.

Next Will started asking people at church if we could be propisani with them. The older people don't want to do it, because they're afraid that having more people listed in their home could lose them some of their benefits or raise their utilities (which we would pay for!). Anyway, he found someone among the younger people. A week went by, trying to match up schedules, when the right offices were open and such. Yesterday Will went with our friend to propisatsya in their apartment. On the local level, no one knows anything about how to do this. They say that we can't have a propiska, unless we have temporary residency. Of course, temporary residency is what we're trying to get, and we need a propiska to get it.

OVIR and the passport offices are closed on Monday, so that was the dead end yesterday. Hopefully Will can make more progress today. Everyone seems willing to help, they just need to figure out what they're supposed to do and how.

Oh, here's something we've been laughing about: I was reading online about different people's experiences with this. One American was trying to get a propiska with his Ukrainian mother-in-law, and she was concerned about him having to undo his American propiska first.

UPDATE: Yesterday Will got someone who knows what is going on to call down to the propiska lady and tell her what to do. So, we got something like a provisional propiska in our friend's apartment. Praise the Lord for that! From there, Will took it and everything else to Zaporozhya and turned it in. We still had some questions, but the woman who works there was too busy to look through everything right then. We should know by next week if we have temporary residency, or if there are still a few more hoops to jump through. (Wow. This is definitely not Russia, where it takes 6 months to get that answer!)


Mom said...

Thank you for the understandable explanation. The person who was concerned about undoing your American propiska would be completely confounded to know you had to give us so much background to assure our comprehension. Praying! We love you.

Sarah Familia said...

Oh my goodness, this totally takes me back to our time in Italy. Good luck dealing with all that red tape!

monica said...

It seems the system was similar in Romania. It reminds me of the Office of Circumlocution in Dicken's Little Dorrit. crazy

Anna Solodovnikova said...

I went through this 'cause I am from Moldova and now I live in Odessa, Ukraine.
I did a permanent possibility to live here - it is called Posvidka pro postiyne mistse projivannya.
The think is that you need to have a person who would like to propisati you in his apartment. Then you go with him to OVIR near to his neighborhood and tell that you need registration and this person is ready to propisati you.
So, he has to bring the documents which say he is the owner (if there are two or more owners of the apartment - all of them must sign a paper that they are ready to give you this propiska).
What can I say?! If you have any questions, maybe I can help you with the answers. If you read internet though, forum http://forum.chemodan.ua/index.php?s=ce76130baa7c67d351d0e7ae825118f3&showforum=64 may help!

Baba Julie said...

Okay, we "officially" unpropiska you from your American propiska!! Does that help? Love you and praying!!

Phyllis said...

Anna, we're working on almost the same thing, except for us it's timchasove. Things are also a little different for us far-foreigners than they are for near-foreigners like you. :-) But yes, it's pretty close. I think you all have been able to get propiski before, because you don't have to come in on visas? For us with visas, it's always been registration, not propiska, which is why this is confusing people so much.

Anyway, we're making progress. Thanks for all the prayers and comments, everyone.

Heather Powell said...

I am really interested to hear how this all works out for you since we will be going through this with the same OVIR sometime in the future - that is if the laws don't change again before then. Praying for everything to go as smooth as possible.

Phyllis said...

Heather, I know of a couple who just finished getting temporary residency in your city. I think it was a little slower for them, because they were first. Hopefully that will make things smoother for you, when you get to that point. The regional OVIR is great! They really know what's going on and how to help. Any holdups seem to be on a local level.

Phyllis said...

Oh, and there's a comment, on a blog that I just discovered. It should have been here, and it made me giggle. So, go read it there. :-)

(Is anyone else having trouble commenting? Obviously, you wouldn't be able to answer here, but please email me, if so.)

Mommy Joys said...

I am laughing out loud! Here's another funny tidbit for you to laugh over. We have an American friend who was trying to do something here concerning his car, which had American license plates. (I forget exactly what he was trying to do.) Anyway, after much running around, he hit his own dead end: the police would not complete the process without seeing his American propiska. It didn't matter to them that this doesn't exist in the U.S. Finally he came up with an ingenious solution: he showed them his voter registration. And it worked!
God bless,