Went to the Garda immigration office today to renew our visas. It’s in a business park called Liosban (lizsh-bawn), on the Tuam (twum or too-wum, depending on who you’re speaking to) Road. Takes 2 buses to get there from our house.
There was one couple ahead of us when we got there and one person being waited on. Another 2 or three people came in while we were waiting. But it only took about 40 minutes before we were sitting in front of a Garda officer.
As people who know me will already be aware, I have little regard or respect for police officers. American cops are the worst – pushy, authoritarian, full of delusions of grandeur, prone to lying – so it is with high praise that I tell you that Gardaí are the nicest cops I’ve ever met. They are polite, respectful, helpful and friendly. Of course, I’m not an outlaw, or even a scofflaw, so my experience has been pleasant so far.
This officer started with my paperwork. He began typing in the info and engaged me while we were waiting for him to process us. He asked me, ‘How ye keepin’ yerself while yer here?’ Says I, ‘I volunteer my time with Age Action, teaching older folks how to use the computer.’ ‘Fair play to ye,’ says he. ‘I have the mother-in-law from hell,’ he says, ‘and I’ve been teaching her the computer. She’s really taken to it.. but…’ ‘Oh,’ says I, ‘you should just pony up the €20 and pay me to teach her.’ ‘Where ye at?’ ‘Small Crane,’ I say. ‘Oh, I’ll have to think about that,’ he says. And then he took my photo and told me that, as we Americans say, there’s “no free lunch,” so I hand over the credit card, he runs it, and we’re done. But not before he says again, “Fair play to ye.” Then it was Claude’s turn.
Once we were finished, and €300 poorer, this lovely man tells us that once 2 years of sponsorship have passed, Claude no longer has to be hosted or have a work permit. Claude can get a “Stamp 4” visa from the Republic, meaning that he can just work without special permission. This is very exciting to us because we thought we had to stay 5 years in order to stay permanently. Claude has already spoken to a couple of employers who said that if he has his Stamp 4 he can get hired right away. Time to marshal the fates and hope for an extension to the current contract!
So now we’re good to go until the end of June next year. We’ll do what it takes to stay, but for now we can breathe a sigh of relief. We celebrated with a nice lunch and a big piece of chocolate fudge cake.