I believe my experience with IND (Dutch Immigration) is not the same experience as everyone else but I promised an update. While we were on holiday, I got an e-mail & Ilka got an e-mail on her phone that until I had my actual visa I was no longer allowed to work at the warehouse. Side note they also wouldn’t process my paycheck for the first week’s work. Ilka got the message first, so after several phone calls, she found out my visa was available but I had not been notified, plus she set up an appointment for me to register as a resident of Schiedam, which is where my BSN ( Dutch social security) will be issued. So we figure that I lose one day’s pay while I play the paperwork game.
Sunday afternoon we are relaxing and Ilka is reviewing the information online to let me know what to expect. She sees a note saying that it takes up to 4 weeks to get a BSN and tells me this. I try to stay positive, when her parents come to visit, she explains the situation to her Dad, who offers to drive me to both the IND office in Rotterdam & to Schiedam city offices to register. Aad (Ilka’s Dad) is also willing to be forceful about getting my BSN, since he speaks Dutch & I do not. Secretly, I’m worried about a 4 week delay as I do have a few bills that I do have to pay.
Monday morning (late since I did stay up and watch the Super Bowl) we drove to the IND office. I walk in with only the letter saying my visa had been approved. I tell the receptionist why I am there and she asks if I have the letter to appear for my visa. I explain I was told over the phone it was available and she asks for the paperwork I do have. She makes a note, and hands me the number to get my visa, the next number on the screen.
I don’t even get the few meters to the waiting area when my number comes up on the screen along with the window number to report to. So I walk up, smile and show the lady my ticket with the number on it. She needs to see my passport and the note on the paper then thumbs through a large box with hundreds of ID cards and finds mine. She hands it to me along with a 4 page fact sheet in English. She smiles and says “Welcome to the Netherlands.” I was in and out so fast Aad didn’t even bother to park. He said if someone came along and told him to move he would simply have made a lap around the bus/taxi lane and returned. We returned home, he had a cup of coffee and left to check on Ria (my mother-in-law) who is recovering well from rotator cuff surgery.
In the afternoon Aad came to pick me up with plenty of time to spare for my 1430 (2:30PM) appointment. As we drove up, we went by a ruin of a keep for a castle at the front of the building, it is one of the oldest structures left in Schiedam, dating to about 1262 AD. We went in, took a number and sat down to wait. I was happy to see that the office was fairly empty, there was a group of about 10 people, all from the same family that was there the kids trying not to get into too much trouble and the adults and teens gathered around working with the clerk. After a few minutes, my number popped up and we were directed to the clerk who had chairs in front of her desk, most were set up much like a bank, with the desks designed for people to walk up and stand while being served. I wasn’t sure what to think of this, good or bad. After handing her my visa & passport, her first question was “Do you have a BSN?” I simply answered no and she said “OK I will set that up first.” I was surprised and I believe Aad was too. So she was busy typing on her computer and I asked if she would tell me the BSN and she replied it would be on the printout I would get confirming my address. I looked at Add and said “That was easy.” He smiled and said “And I didn’t even need to get upset.” At that point the clerk and Aad launched into a talk explaining the information online stated I would need to wait for my BSN. She told him that my BSN was needed to process my address so the online info was incorrect. About 5 minutes into the work, she asks me for a copy of my birth certificate. This was totally unexpected, we never found anywhere that my birth certificate was needed. She had our apostille marriage certificate so that wasn’t an issue. I did happen to have a state copy of my birth certificate so I gave that to her. She asked if I had an apostille copy of my birth certificate. I do not so she gave me a form that they needed an apostille copy of my birth certificate, but we continued after she made a copy of the birth certificate. So after about 10 minutes all the paperwork was in the computer and she printed out a copy of the information she entered. She was even kind enough to highlight the BSN on the sheet.
I looked it up online, all I have to do is print out a state form & mail it along with my birth certificate (I needed the one I ordered last fall not the certified copy of the original I have from the 1980s) and a check for $5.00 to the state. It will be returned with the apostille attached. As we were leaving, Aad pointed out to me that the entrance was to both the city offices and to the city theatre. I was so focused (and nervous) I didn’t even notice the signs and the large staircase as we entered. In my defense, we did enter from the underground parking garage by elevator, so it wasn’t quite as obvious.
In the end, getting my visa once in the Netherlands proved to be relatively easy, and when I went back to the warehouse on Tuesday, they were able to process my payroll from before our holiday and add me to the payroll for that week.