|That's not pretty garden there, that's weeds.|
Admittedly they've done a little to make it look more presentable in the eleven years we've been going there. The toilets have had an upgrade (that counts big with me, I do tend to rate places by their "facilities"). They may have painted the building and done a bit of work on the main waiting area. The access road even looks a little less like a country back-road. But it still seems a rather out-of-the-way place. It makes you feel that immigration isn't a big priority and something they want to shove away into a forgotten corner?
Anyway, I find any contact with immigration departments a little world-rocking. It is an admission that we don't belong here. That anytime someone could pull the rug out from underneath us and change our lives significantly. I know that that is unlikely. We're here with a respected organisation, live responsible lives, and have legitimate visas. But still, there's nothing like having to depend on a visa to make you feel like an alien.
|Outside the immigration office at the end of the access road, which is only|
Other immigration department stories
Here's what happened in 2013, the last time we applied for visa extensions: lots more waiting, chaos, and driving, and makes today look very pedestrian.
Last year we had our scariest encounter with immigration, at one of our more vulnerable moments: in a Tokyo airport about to leave for a conference in Thailand.
But after saying all that, I'm glad we work in a country where we can be open about who we are (Christians and missionaries) and where we can get good, reasonably lengthy visas.