Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Job Saga...Finally Coming to a Close?

Ever since I received an offer to teach at our Bangkok school for the upcoming school year and signed a contract, I've been dealing with the bureaucracy that is the Thai government. It was easier wading through the U.S. government bureaucracy when I worked there, and that's saying a lot!

Before leaving for the U.S. for a visit last month, the school's HR informed me that I would need to provide a copy of the transcript for my master's degree (the degree that qualifies me for the job) and the diploma to that same degree. It was emphasized to me many times that I needed to make sure the name that appears on my transcript and diploma matches exactly my name as it appears on my passport (which lists my full name). If the names don't match exactly, I would need to request a name-verification letter from the university where I received my degree stating that the different names referred to the same person. I would need to do this even if it was just a matter of having only my middle initial on one document and my full name on another. I was given a sample letter to follow, and the provider of the letter would need to follow the sample letter's exact format and wording. (Rigid much?)

Once I got back to the U.S., I found a copy of my transcript and took a look. It was then that I remembered that I had completed this degree before I was married, so everything had my maiden name on it! Crap. I called the university registrar's office and explained my situation. The person on the phone instructed me to send in my transcript request, along with a copy of my marriage certificate and a copy of the letter my school needed. So off I went to the courthouse to request a copy of my marriage certificate (since the original one was back in Bangkok). I then typed up a letter detailing my situation and request, and mailed all the documents to the university. 

About a week later, I received my requested number of transcripts, along with two letters. One letter, addressed to me, stated that it was the university's policy to verify only the name a student used while attending the school. The other letter verified the name that I used while attending the school. Well, what good does that do me?! I scanned all the documents and emailed them to the HR lady who had been helping me, explaining the situation. Needless to say, she responded that the letter was unacceptable to the Thai Education Ministry. She suggested that I ask the American Embassy in Bangkok whether they would write a letter for me. She also acknowledged that she was uncertain as to whether the American Embassy provided such  service.

I wondered why the Thai government wouldn't accept marriage certificates as a form of name verification, especially as my marriage certificate not only lists my full name, but also links me to my current last name. I mean, really, how many people in the world have exactly my English first name, Chinese middle name, and Polish last name? HR didn't know the answer to this question either, and admitted that the Thai Education Ministry never gave them a good reason for its very narrow requirement.

I made an appointment to go in to obtain this affidavit. The way the process went, I would never accept this affidavit if I were the Thai government. I filled in the blank affidavit myself, and someone at the embassy asked me what the purpose of the affidavit was. I didn't even finish explaining before the clerk said, "Okay, if you swear everything on the paper is true, then just sign here." Really official!

The next day, I went to school to submit this affidavit, which was deemed acceptable. Now I wait for the arrival of my diploma. Then the HR office submits my paperwork to the Thai Education Ministry. After that, I also need to change the type of visa that I currently have, from a non-working visa to a visa that allows me to work in Thailand. To do that, I first need to go to the Thai immigration office in Bangkok to cancel my current visa. Then, the day after canceling my visa, I need to leave Thailand to go to the Thai Embassy in another country, with a letter from the Thai immigration office, to apply for the visa that I need to work in Thailand. Yippee! More stuff to do that I don't have time for! At least we plan to combine this trip, if it comes to be, with some sightseeing so as not to waste time or money. What worries me is the trip to the Thai immigration office. I have heard horror stories of people waiting there all day, not getting done what they needed to get done, and having to return at least one more time.

I can't believe how much time and energy I have spent just in pursuit of documents for employment. All this just to work for one year here.    

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