Yesterday Soup Boy, Jose, and I all made a field trip to the U.S. Embassy, where in front of an Official Person I promised that I was not a criminal. I’m not sure why making this promise in front of an American is more convincing to the Czechs that it would be if I promised in front of a Czech, but perhaps this way they can’t be accused by the US of knowingly harboring a criminal. Only that doesn’t add up, because technically this document is part of the process to get a business license.
You see, to get a visa you have to come up with some reason why you should have one. “I like it here and want to hang out” is not a sufficient reason*, but if you are doing business in the Czech Republic, that’s pretty compelling. So, to get a visa I first apply for a business license. The catch is that I can’t actually get the business license until I have a visa. This leads to a bureaucratic juggling act where the visa people create a document that says I’ve applied for the visa, which allows the business license people to proceed, and when they’re done the visa people can do their… whatever it is they do… and then in one big flurry of paper I have both permission to stay here and permission to invoice people for my services. I am told that this “visa in progress” document will also smooth out my international travel worries. Probably.
I added my “promise of non-criminalhood” form to my growing portfolio of documentation (it will have to be translated, and the translation certified – or something like that), along with papers that confirm that I live where I do and that the landlord is OK with someone running a business there.
Today I found the notary’s office – exactly where Soup Boy said it was, carefully disguised as a typical residence. Once I knew what to look for, sure enough there was the sign. A few minutes later I was on the streets again, carrying official documents that will allow someone else to do most of the grunt work of applying for a visa. It feels good to be making progress.
* I think, left to themselves, “I like it here” would probably be a perfectly adequate reason as far as the Czechs were concerned — as long as the individual in question had a nice. plump bank account. Alas, in this case the Czechs must follow Rules imposed by Foreign Powers (the European Union in this case). The fact that the Czech Republic actually placed itself under the jurisdiction of the foreign powers voluntarily this time doesn’t mean they have to like it.