Friday, October 29, 2010

The moment of truth and an identity crisis

A Fatal Error?  (Continued from this post)

The lady at the fingerprinting station had told me to check EVERY LETTER very carefully. Those words would come back to haunt me...

For the rest of Tuesday and all of Wednesday I was thinking about the fact that I had chosen the spelling that was in my current visa. After all, that was the most authoritative document, right?

BUT the spelling which I had written on my residency application (under a different visa) was totally different... and to be honest, preferable.

To make a long story short, it probably didn't make sense for me to be a resident under one name and have my fingerprints registered under a different name...even if it was a matter of transliteration. continue/-

What to do, what to do? Did it even matter, or would no one notice? There was no room for error, as I would need to pick up my permit on the first try and would not be able to run around the city changing things.

I asked a few people their opinion and most felt that I should go with the spelling on my residency application, as the visa would be canceled in a few days anyway and then no one would know that I ever had an "alter ego." I wasn't thinking very clearly at this point, but figured that they were probably right and it was worth trying to change the spelling.

Thursday, October 14th-my last attempt to get my residency permit before my visa expires

The moment of truth would come in the afternoon when I would find out if the local authorities had picked up my residency permit on Wednesday and I could finally claim it.

In the morning, I went to the fingerprint place again. It was the same story: everything under construction, and the one lady there, with no other customers.

She yelled at me even though I couldn't possibly be bothering her as there was seemingly nothing else for her to do all day. But she scolded me in a nice way...maybe it is a cultural thing.

"I TOLD you to check every letter. You've made so much trouble for yourself, having to come down here again. Now we'll have to write out your form again." (it took 2 minutes)

I didn't even have to get the prints taken again (I did have hand wipes with me, just in case).

I felt at peace about the decision and made my way back home with my new fingerprint registration, where my last name was now written "correctly."

Then it was time to leave for the immigration office...

The Big Moment...

We went upstairs to where the inspector was. Apparently they did a lot of the paperwork up there and worked with clients downstairs. I poked my head in the door and the woman, seeing me, said "It's all set. Your document is here. Go downstairs and they will call you by your last name."

So that was that. It had come!

But I Have to Wait Again

Now, more waiting in the familiar hallway. There seemed to be no method to how they were calling people, as far as the order. When they called my name, I sat down at the desk while they checked my passport, visa, etc, according to the list. More problems with the last name: they were NOT happy that my current visa deviated from the application they had on file. Thankfully I had held on to a copy of my visa used at that time, so I could sort of prove that the other spelling existed and referred to me personally. This confirmed that I had done correctly by changing the spelling on the fingerprint registration.

After a lot of grumbling and checking with her superiors, the lady on staff gave me a few documents to sign, and told me to come back with them in a few hours! This was already the 3rd assignment that day, whereas I had thought I would just show up and get the permit. But I was close...

Something Material!

We returned with my signed forms at the appointed time, and I had another mini- panic attack while waiting for my last name to be called. Finally it was my turn (again) and I sat down and handed over the forms, keeping a copy for myself. Then there was a stamp in my passport, where I checked everything carefully. I was granted permission to reside "temporarily" in St. Petersburg for 3 years.  I was given a chance to ask questions about registration. But unfortunately I had not studied the forms thoroughly enough yet. I couldn't use the opportunity to get information.

"Oh, if there aren't questions now, they'll come up later," she said drily, as I left the room in a daze.

We walked out into the hallway and somehow in my shaky state I was aware of a sign-up sheet being passed around for the next day. It was for registration. I signed up and was number 17. Despite the stamp in my passport, I wasn't out of "danger" yet. I had just a few business days left to have everything filled out CORRECTLY and handed in.

More to Come...

I felt a bit weak in the knees as we walked away. I could feel that I needed to kick into high gear to be successful, but I didn't have any strength left. Thankfully, there were a lot of people, and especially the Lord, standing by my side.


  1. Is this when you were getting ill?

    I find myself wondering what the "best" transliteration of your last name is. My last name is not difficult, but I am always surprised to see that they attempt a true transliteration of "Anne" making it sound like "Ehn" (and not look at all like my name) rather than simply call me "Anna".

  2. I got ill the next day during the registration ordeal.

    My mother's name is usually "Ehn" as well. I actually prefer that to just resorting to the Russian version. It drives me crazy when Russians call themselves something like "Alex" instead of Sasha or "Helen" instead of Yelena. The original versions are perfectly beautiful!

    But on the other hand, I usually go by a Russian version of my name. :)

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  4. Liz, just wanted to let you know I am on my last leg as well. My oath ceremony is on Nov. 30th. Can't believe the waiting is over and in just 3 weeks I will become a US citizen. Can't wait. Hope everything ends up well for you as well. V.......

  5. Congratulations, Vitali! That must be a great feeling.


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