You know that movie…where he keeps waking up and repeating the same day over and over again? That’s pretty much how my life here is going. Since last June, we have been trying to get the visa that allows us to enter and exit the country as often as we would like. As it is now, we have to play this fun game where we are here for a while and leave for a while, hence the trip to Austria.

We have contacted lawyers, the immigration department, “consultants”, and the US Embassy to get help with this. According to every law, we have a right to be here with Mark’s company. Everyone agrees on this. What they cannot agree on is what papers need to filed with whom. We attempted several times in the summer to file the documents and we were told they were the wrong ones, or they were not the originals, or they had a stamp on the wrong side of the paper, so they must be fraudulent.

Then we came here and “hired a consultant” (read into that what you will, you are probably right) who was supposed to guarantee that our documents were indeed the right ones and usher our paperwork through the process. Well, something went awry. The “consultant” did not understand the type of business arrangement we have here and therefore, did not properly advise us about our documents and so we were denied yet again. Furthermore, she offered us a money back guarantee but we have never heard from her since. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. Why do you think that is?

When we returned in December we contacted several lawyers to help us. We have one guy who has been so helpful and who Mark uses for all the business stuff anyways–he is a friend of the partners here. The other guy wanted us to pay $7000 U.S. Dollars for him to basically make a few phone calls and fill out a couple of applications for us. You see, they think Americans are rich. What with shows like the O.C. and all the images Hollywood puts out, many people here think all Americans are like that. So they overcharge you FOR EVERYTHING. From fruits and vegetables to taxi rides to legal work. You have to be careful. I always buy my produce from the same trusted people and we only use one taxi company that is known for its honest metering. Clearly we were not going to pay this type of money when we could come home for free.

Finally I contacted the US Embassy and they agreed to help. The lady I was dealing with promised me a meeting with the director of the immigration whatever whatever and said that he would make an exception and accept our application from right here in BG. This is unusual because normally you have to leave the country to apply for a visa. I explained that we were re-filing some documents with the court system here, as advised when we got denied the last time. She assured me that this is no problem, they can wait, and even plan a meeting with short notice. Great!

So about two weeks ago I contacted her to please plan the meeting as were are pretty sure we are ready. Her “people” were out of the office that week. Then when I asked her to make sure it is this week because we were heading back to the U.S., she talked to her “people” and they decided we should just apply from the U.S. Need I remind you of the Mullet in the LA Consulate? We would have to deal with her again. Ummm….NO!

We are back to where we were last summer. Not 100% sure if we have exactly the right documents and having to deal with the LA Consulate. Groundhog’s Day.

But I busted out my mad math skills again and did some counting. The deal here is this. You get 90 out of 180 days. That means we are allowed 90 days out of every 6 months. So, basically on May 1st, if we come back, we will get 90 more days which will allow us to stay until August. We just have to stay home until May 1st. And so we will. With pleasure!

Regardless, the good BG lawyer here recommends that we attempt again with the LA Consulate because then we would be on record with the company and people/employees who would come here after us would have an easier time. Plus Mark could come back and forth as often as he wants to check on operations here. And so we will. But of course, not without problems.

See, the consulates like to take your passport during the whole process. So you file on one day and await the answer, which usually takes about a month. So they like to have your passport for the enitre month. Problem. My sister is getting married in Mexico while we are there and we need our passports. So we will have to apply at the end of March, get an answer at the end of April, thereby coming here again….oh yes….at the beginning of May, same time as my previous calculation. Groundhog’s Day.

But we will do it. Because on the very slight, miniscule, basically non-existent chance that we actually get approved (once again, I reiterate that legally we have a right to be here with the company and that all this is a game of which documents go to whom) then it will be much easier in the future.
I have not discussed the visa problem here on this blog because many people who I don’t know read this. Which is cool. But I was afraid of jeopardizing our chances of getting the visa. But, here is the reality: No matter what we do, we cannot get any help or answers in this process. It is like rolling the dice or playing the lottery. There are laws here governing this process. The problem is nobody seems to know ALL the laws. Some people know some of the laws, but it seems that nobody knows all of them. And so we keep getting different information.
And the decision depends on who looks at which documents on which day.

So I just don’t care anymore. I was trying not to slam anyone here, but I am SO over that. The ministries here are no help, the consulates there are no help and my own US Embassy is useless. We have been made to pay bribes, attempted to be extorted from, called frauds and liars. I give up.

Sadly, this hurts this country the most. We are honest people with an honest business that is expanding and pays excellent wages. Really…our employees are all paid well enough that they surpass what was determined to be “the wealthy level” here. Ok, they are not rolling in Mercedes or flashing the bling, but they can afford to live nicely here. And yet the government agencies and corruption make it impossible for us to work here. So in the end, while this is a hassle for us, it will only result in our apprehension to continue to expand the operations here in this country. Bulgaria says it wants foreign investment, but really, judging by their actions, they don’t.

Regardless, all this doom and gloom actually results in something great! We get to stay home for a couple of months and enjoy all the freedoms and temperate weather San Diego has to offer. Woooooohooooooooooo! Comida mexicana here I come!!!!!!!!