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Work permit

November 6, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

  Like most other countries, Zambia requires that I have a work permit in order to legally work, or in my case, volunteer in Zambia.  It isn’t a difficult process… fill out a form, pay a fee and wait.  They are good for two years so when I arrived, I obtained a work permit.  Two years into our service, I renewed my work permit and last year I had to renew once again.  The renewal process is very easy as they just fill in another page of your book.  When I say book, the Zambian work permit looks like a standard passport, just a bit smaller.  It has a cover and pages that get stamped inside.  The problem is the cover…

  Prior to last year, all Zambian permit books were the same color and they decided that they needed to have the covers a different color for each type of permit (study, work, resident, investor, etc.).  Not a bad idea but the execution was a bit lacking.  I applied around July of last year and very shortly was told that my work permit was approved but that they didn’t yet have the new books.  In lieu of a book, they gave me a piece of paper with a stamp on it.  It was a temporary permit but was only good for two months.  Since the entire family is covered on my work permit, they needed to stamp each of our passport with the temporary work permit information.  No problem.

  I returned in two months and was told that they haven’t yet received the new books so they put another stamp on my paper and had to stamp each of our passports again.  I returned again two months later and was told that they still haven’t received them but they would have them next time.   I returned again two months later and was told that they still haven’t received them but they would have them next time.  I returned again two months later and was told that they still haven’t received them but they would have them next time.  I returned again two months later and was told that they still haven’t received them but they would have them next time. (Yes, I was able to cut and paste the last four sentences.)  On my visit in September, I begged for them to just give me three months and they would never see me again as it would carry me into December.  (Remember, every time I went in I needed to get my paper stamped and each of our passports).  However, they informed me that they were not allowed to extend them for more than two months at a time. 

   I needed to return in November to get my final stamp but I was told by my boss that my work permit was ready.  So today, I visited my friends at immigration yet again.  While above I make the process seem pretty easy, in fact here is how a normal visit goes… here is today’s visit.

    STEP 1 – Ask at the front desk where I go to collect my work permit.  The man directs me to desk 13.

    STEP 2 – After waiting in line, the man tell me to go to another room and check with someone there.

    STEP 3 – At this desk, I notice boxes filled with work permits with letters written on the boxes.  I start going through the “M” box which contains about 200 work permits in no particular order.  I found mine about 3/4 of the way through the box. (It dawns on my how my boss knew my work permit was ready… their surname also begins with an “M”)

   STEP 4 – The gentlemen stamps my work permit and has me sign it.  (Have you noticed that Zambian’s like stamps?)  He directly me to a man at desk 16.  

   STEP 5 – After waiting in line the man directs me to a woman wearing glasses in another room.

   STEP 6 – I find the woman wearing glasses but she directs me to desk 6.

   STEP 7 – After a short wait, the man at desk six stamps our passports while complementing me on my boys.  (I should mention that each time they stamp a passport, they have to manually write information on the stamp… for each of us!)

   I leave by 9:30 with my shiny new work permit in hand, which now expires in about 7 months.  Fortunately, I will not need to get another.  However, it will serve as a great souvenir for my years in Zambia.  So, to recap, it took:

  14 months, 7 visits, and 42 stamps

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Kathy Fast
    November 7, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    don’t suppose Mitchell’s was ready? This brought back many memories of lots of waiting in lines and bringing applications can also get complicated when bringing different surnames… all going to different desks… aaahh immigration! I think there were only about 2 desks we never went to – but ‘visited’ all the others – including two upstairs. Ask Lisa and Emily about those desks!!! some things are ONLY worth their stories they produce later… hahaha… Glad you have a souvenir.

    • Miriam Mitchell
      November 7, 2013 at 9:57 pm

      Ha! Yes we hunted through the M box … and quite a few more, as well as scan about 50 pages of names. I tried to start my own pile of work permits stored in a separate envelope, but no, they had to go back into the lucky dip box for the owners to discover.

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