Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Person Non- Gratis aka Expat Corporate Wife. I Don't Think So.

There's nothing so rewarding as being reminded, in an official capacity that you are person non gratis, an expat wife only allowed into a country because of your husbands worth to the organisation.

Welcome to another fabulous aspect of being an expat - not.

It starts with a visit to the immigration office usually within 3 months of arriving in your new country.

Last time we were not married, which might have caused an issue had G not been pre-warned (and kept me ignorant until after the appointment). Lots of countries have this attitude to defacto couples, it's something you sort of get used to.

Some couples get married to make immigration easier. We didn't. We weren't baulking the system, we just didn't feel like getting married as we already 'felt' married - gosh, a daughter, moving overseas together ....... committed to each other. Who was Ireland to tell us to get married???????

At least this time we're married and have paperwork, albeit it in Japanese (with English translation), to prove it so we knew it would be so much easier.

It shouldn't surprise me, but it does that NOT taking G's surname proves a problem for some people; that we have to 'show proof' of marriage, as if our relationship prior to marriage didn't count. I suggested to MissM that maybe at this school I should be known as MrsA so as not to complicate things for people. Her response - no way. They can learn who you are.

So, 7 years ago our time at the immigration office started with G asking me very politely to let him do all the talking at the immigration office.

'Do you have your marriage certificate with you' he was asked.

No. He replied.

Oh said the young man behind the window, wielding all the power to let us in or not (we'd already rented a house, had MissM into Montessori, G had been working for months by this stage).

(He didn't have a marriage certificate cos we weren't married, but he was never asked the direct question LOL)

Stamp. Stamp. Stamp.

We were in.

This time round, it was similar.

We were at different windows, with different officials doing the questioning.

Do you have your marriage certificate? I was asked.

No. My husband has it at window 9. I replied.

Oh. Ok. Please wait here.

So you've a different surname do you? He queried as if i was the first woman not to take her husbands surname.

Yes. (I remembered to only answer what I was asked)

You understand you are only allowed into Ireland because your husband is company sponsored, and you have a child together, and you can't work while you are here.

I smiled, and said yes. (the story of my 'new' life)

And you don't have the same surname on any documentation. (He made the question sound like a statement) so I said, that's right.

Stamp. Stamp. Stamp.

We're in - again.

G was also told that I was allowed in but that I wasn't entitled to work; he was also told that if for any reason he lost his job/resigned etc we had less than 6 weeks to leave the country. The official told him that the systems were very tight these days, and they would know as work would have to register him leaving with them within a fortnight of it possibly happening or be fined.

He was told we would have to come back and reapply for visa's in August '14.

While G was told to bring all of us in with the relevant paperwork, they didn't do a thing with MissM's passport - she's under 16. We didn't even bother to ask why we needed to bring her with us.

Then we (G and I separately)  went of to have our fingerprints taken.

An hour and a half later (G and MissM had left me and gone to work/school as it was taking forever) and I was called to window 1.

So, you're here with your husband (states his full name) but you're not the same surname (statement not question)

Yes. (here we go again I thought)

Now, he's the one we are letting in ... you are to be known as his dependent. You understand you can't work as this visa does not allow you to earn an income. (Lots of statements here)

Yes I understand.

So, we're in.

As this is my 4th time as an official dependent, with no legal right to earn an income, it doesn't bother me anymore. I'm past being bothered by the legality of our lifestyle.

Sure I get bored.

Sure I'd love to be able to contribute financially to our bank account.

Sure I'd take great pleasure in buying G gifts with 'my' money but we've never been a 'his' 'mine' couple when it comes to money.

Sure things would be so different if we were in Sydney. I'd possibly be working mummy-hours in a lovely toyshop .... but we're not.

It's because of his job that we have had the enormous pleasure to have lived here before, and in Japan and the UK.

If I'm dependent on him, he's dependent on me - he's so tied up with work that the moves, settling in, sorting stuff out, finding friends, making a social life etc all fall to me.

So to all those expat corporate wives who might be reading this - you are so NOT a dependent.

You are every bit an equal partner in this up'n'down, frustrating, rewarding, exciting, challenging, sometimes-boring lifestyle.

With friendship

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