Thursday, December 28, 2006

Some news that isn't altogether excellent

Well, we've hit a snag. While I still don't know what the ultimate outcome will be, there is a problem with my visa, vis-a-vis work. Basically, in a shocking "violation" of international tradition (if not law), Colombia doesn't have an exactly reciprocal spousal employment policy.

In the US, Europe, and most countries, marrying a national of that country grants you the same rights as any citizen, including work, excluding voting. Essentially, I have the same right here in Colombia, but not "free and clear" like in the US or other developed nations. In the US, a spouse gets the immediate (depending on processing time) and unrestricted right to work. Not so in Colombia. While I have the right, potential employers have to provide 3 documents to the government to legalize my employment. Two of the documents are non-issues. But the 3rd is a "proportionality" document that basically justifies the employment of a foreigner and demonstrates that the proportion of foreigners is not excluding Colombian citizens from employment.

I understand and some ways agree with the Colombian law on this issue. There is a serious unemployment problem here and the government has to introduce policies aimed at helping its citizens first. However, this is a problem for me. The company already has a number of Americans (or foreigners) and it is still unclear if they are able or willing to go through this process on my behalf. Not only that, the attorney for the company told me that it could take up to 5 months to complete this process (from what I've heard, she was exaggerating, but still, 3 months or so is a long ass time).

Of course, all of this is complicated by a gross outbreak of chimchumbia (slang Colombian spanish that you use when something goes wrong or people bend/break the rules for you when they shouldn't). Had the company merely talked with their in-house attorney back in the middle of November when they decided to hire me, she would have explained to them the problem of my visa and a solution could have been decided at that point. However, they, like I, made the assumption that with a spousal visa, it wouldn't be a problem.

So here we are. I'm feeling pessimistic about this and, needless to say, my wife is quite upset about it as well. See, the clear implication is, if I can't find a company willing to "sponsor" me, we're going to have to leave Colombia much earlier than we were planning. I know that Diana isn't ready for that and I'm feeling that I need more time here to continue to improve my Spanish, as well as get experience in my field. More than anything, we don't want to be "forced" to leave Colombia, we want to leave when we choose. But, if my career can't proceed here we really won't have any option.

What next?

Well, immediately, we're going on vacation. Tomorrow we leave with the family for Girardot, a small town about 2 hours outside of Bogota. We're staying in a resort until Monday, it's going to be hot, hot, hot and we're just going to relax, eat, and do nothing else. After that, we're going to Anapoima, which is about 30 minutes closer to Bogota than Girardot. We'll be there for 5 days or so. When we finally return to Bogota, we'll have some decisions to make.

In the short term, it seems likely I'm going back to teaching english. Hopefully I won't be at the same institute as that place was boring as hell and the ever changing schedule was driving me nuts. We'll see. I'm not totally thrilled about this development. In fact, you could say I'm quite peeved or even completely opposed to this option, but I need to continue doing something and this looks like the only short term money maker.

The other part of my short term plan is to find an organization that does work I'm interested in and volunteer my time there, possibly as much as 20 hours a week. I'm looking into this.

I'll also be working my contacts here, searching for new opportunities, and generally pursuing things with a bit of fervor in the hopes of finding a permanent, paying position.

At this point, I'm trying to look at the positive. The following is a list of my primary career/academic interests:

1. Genocide
2. Conflict Resolution (war and peace)
3. Refugee Assistance and Support
4. Human Trafficking
5. Peacekeeping

As you can see, Sustainable Development doesn't appear on this list. So maybe if I don't end up working in this capacity, it's a blessing in disguise. I don't know, but I'm definitely trying to look on the bright side. So, my idea is to volunteer with an organization for the short term with the ultimate goal of generating enough resume builders that wherever our future leads, I'll be stacked to actually work in my areas of interest.

Of course, all of this means it's likely that the trip to Brazil is back on and could mean a couple extra days in the US. We'll see. The ticket prices have gone up quite a bit and with me not really earning much, I'm not sure exactly what is going to be possible. But at the least, I don't have a strong restriction on my time in the US.

Well, that's about it for now. I hope everyone has a good New Year and I'll be back posting in about 10-12 days.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

your blog used to be good

6:42 AM  

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