AUTHORITIES seriously need to look into the operations of the Immigration Department, specifically the visa department.
I had to go through the painstaking ordeal of applying for a spouse visa for my wife and it took me more than five trips before I could successfully get it done. And throughout these five trips, I had to submit the same documents over and over again just to get a stamp.
What I don’t understand is the actual process of getting it done.
For a starter, my wife’s passport automatically entitles her to get a three-month visa upon arrival in Brunei.
When I submitted the first batch of supporting documents with my application to the Immigration, I had to wait for two weeks for them to produce a letter that stated she was granted a three-month visa on arrival.
No instructions were further given from the official at the department.
After much confusion and consultation with my friends who have been through similar ordeal, they told me that my wife had to leave and re-enter the country to get a different stamp by producing a letter.
But why the need for this when the applicant is already on a three-month visa and is in the country?
We ended up making a quick return trip across the border. This time upon arrival, I provided the letter and explained to the Immigration officer that I was trying to get my wife a spouse visa. My wife was given a two-week stamp instead of the usual three months stamp and was asked to go to the Immigration Department with the receipt after I paid $20.
Back at the Immigration Department, we showed the stamp on my wife’s passport along with the receipt and was then given a three-month stamp!
Again, confusion ensued because my friends said it should be a one-year stamp. When I checked with the department on this, again they asked me to produce all the required documentations which I first submitted in order to get it validated for a year.
Thankfully, I had brought everything with me and they amended the validity to a year. And now the next step is for my wife to apply for work entitlement under her spouse visa. When I enquired what was required to get this done, they gave me a checklist of the exact same documents which were already given to them twice!
I am beyond frustrated with this entire process. On top of all this unnecessary repetitive paperwork, applicants have to keep returning because they only allow a certain amount of applicants per day.
It also does not help that the lunch break for the Immigration Department is almost two hours. In countries like Singapore and Australia, Immigration offices are open through lunch hours to cater for working people who use their lunch hours to do such work.
Also, the fact that this specific department deals mostly with foreigners, shouldn’t the officers be equipped with handling basic conversation in English?
Throughout my many trips, I have seen expats walking away confused with unsuccessful applications because they do not know what was happening.
For the sake of our country’s future, I think we need to equip ourselves better when it comes to handling immigration processes, especially as we expect the population to grow within the next few years.
Expats should be given proper information on the required documentations and steps to applying for their necessary visas, especially if they are new to the country.
But the fact that I, a local citizen, born and raised in Brunei can get lost and confused with this whole process, speaks volumes about how flawed the entire process is.
– Dixie Normous