Friday, April 18, 2014

All Hail the International Organization for Migration

It's a month and a half after our Moscow rendezvous, and with any luck, we'll receive the results of my FBI Criminal History Summary before the end of April although that may be too optimistic. They've already reached my parents, but I'm not particularly confident in Russian Post. On the bright side, you'll be happy to know that I'm not a criminal.

For the most part, things went swimmingly in the capital. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) was and is a godsend. It's an intergovernmental organization that provides various services to migrants, whether they're refugees, internally displaced persons, or random expatriates like me. IOM is most easily reached via phone--not via email.

I had an appointment to show up at 11:00 to the IOM office on 12 2nd Zvenigorodskaya Street near the Ulitsa 1905 Goda metro station, or as it appears on Google Maps, Mezhdunarodnaya Organizatsiya Po Migratsii. However, being the anxious person that I am, we arrived at the office before 10:00. Fortunately, the staff was kind enough to help us right away. I completed a registration form with help from an English-speaking staff member, paid for the medical exam, and gave my documents to another English-speaking staff member so that Patrick and I would have all the necessary paperwork to a) enter the clinic and b) have my upfront medical exam done. The medical exam was supposed to cost 315 USD, or 13,500 RUB, but we somehow ended up only paying 4161 RUB. Huzzah!

After that we headed to a clinic near Lenin's Library. I needed to have a few different tests done. First I peed in a cup, they stole some of my blood, and I had chest X-rays. That all happened pretty quickly, but I had to wait an hour and a half to see the doctor for my physical examination. Aside from the wait, I was impressed by how professional and organized the clinic was. I think that it's affiliated with IOM because everyone there seemed to have some sort of visa paperwork with them. The USA seemed to be a pretty popular choice, but I saw a couple of people with papers indicating that they wanted to go to Canada.

Finally, it was my turn, and I answered a bunch of yes-no questions for the doctor, and we chatted a bit. She must have been pretty surprised to see me because she asked if I was sure if I really needed the medical exam. Alas, being an American and the wife of a Canadian doesn't mean that the Canadian government gives me any privileges.

As soon as the exam was complete, we booked it back to the IOM office for fingerprinting. Igor, the fingerprinting technician and security specialist did six full fingerprint cards for the price of one, which ended up being only 1,278 RUB rather than 7,668 RUB. While he was taking my fingerprints, we chatted and he asked about whether or not I felt safe in Stavropol. I thought it was a strange question coming from a Russian, but I guess that any city in the North Caucasus would seem a bit dangerous to a Moscuvite. Plus, he probably helps a lot of refugees from the nearby republics.

The last thing on our agenda was to mail my fingerprints and the appropriate forms to the FBI. Fortunately, DHL is in Russia, so we swung by the office on 1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya, shelled out 6,078 RUB, and called it a day. It took less than a week for everything to make it to the FBI, and my credit card was charged for the record request about two weeks after being signed for.