Bureaucracy At Its Finest

For anyone who loves administration this blog entry will be a real treat for you.

Today we received our letter of permission from The Labour and Welfare Office. This letter allows us to approach the Mongolian Immigration team.

This is what happened at immigration. Tim & I met Alta at a hotel in the city centre. We took a taxi to the immigration office, which is situated inconveniently out of town near the airport, around 20km away. Upon arrival at immigration we took a ticket and waited our turn to be seen.

Counter number 1 told us to go to counter number 2.

Counter number 2 told us to go to counter number 3.

Counter number 3 checked all our paperwork, checked Alta’s ID and told us to go to counter number 4.

Counter number 4 was unfortunately manned by an unhelpful, bureaucracy loving, rude man, who Tim and I had on a previous visit the misfortune of dealing with. He told Alta that the letter from The Labour and Welfare Office needed a date on it or we would have to leave the country to change our visa.

After arguing with each other for a few minutes the guy dismissed Alta and moved on to serve someone else. We jumped in another car (in Mongolia one flags down a real taxi or hops in someone’s car when they stop) and headed back to The Labour and Welfare Office. Alta checked with them about this ‘missing’ date and was told it was not required. The office even called a senior immigration person who also said it was not needed.

We hopped into another passing car and went straight back to immigration.

Back at counter number 4 Alta relayed this information to Mr Unpleasant. He listened, shrugged and tuned out. We ended up speaking with someone more senior. The more senior person said “Fine” but now we had to get a letter from Global Reach (our sponsor) requesting permission to change our visa from “S” category to “HG” category.

The three of us had a think about how we could get this letter without travelling back to the city again. Then we realised we already had this letter. Alta headed to counter number 3 to the senior guy to explain this and show him the existing letter.

He read it, thought a while only to explain that because the letter contained other information we really needed to bring a letter with only the required information in it.

We left the office and outside Alta called her husband. It turned out that his brother worked in a building opposite immigration. The brother-in-law agreed to let Alta use his PC/printer so off we went to create the requisite document. Said document created, we went back to immigration, back to counter number 4.

Counter number 4 informed us that this letter needed to go to the 2nd floor to be registered. Translated as signed by someone. Alta went up to the 2nd floor, came down again, got a signature from counter number 4’s boss who also checked all our paperwork and said it was all in order and then had Alta escorted by counter number 4 guy back to the 2nd floor.

Alta reappeared and said we had to wait 30 minutes for the letter to be ‘registered.’ An hour later she trudged back up the stairs to get an update. The letter had been signed – hooray! Not so fast. The letter now needed a second signature from the actual boss. Another hour and a half passed by. The time was now 4.40pm and with the offices closing promptly at 5pm we were running out of time.

Alta chased the letter signing again, only to be told the actual boss wasn’t in the office. She was communicating this to us when the boss came walking into the office. Alta walked back up to the 2nd floor, found the lady with all our paperwork and took her to the boss. The boss read through everything and signed the letter.

This was then passed back to senior guy, mentioned earlier, who decided there was one last hoop to jump through. We had to get the date put on the permission letter from The Labour and Welfare Office (remember this isn’t actually needed) and two more letters from Global Reach. The two additional letters needed two pieces of information that are contained in one letter but have to be separated. Why? I hear you ask. Well, if you have to ask that question then you really have no interest in admin whatsoever and this blog entry is not for you.

So at 4.45pm we left immigration. We will return tomorrow to see what paperwork is mandatory on a Wednesday.

This photo is a special “Happy Hour” offer at a pub we drink at. Instead of “Buy one get one free” one has to drink rather more here. Not surprising when you consider the sort of day we’ve had!
Happy Hour Mongolian Style


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