Posted by Cpt. Nemo on August 29, 2004 at 16:00:46:
My wife -- 4 yrs. now married to me and living in the US -- and I are new readers of this Board. We have found it very interesting.
So far, we have managed to get every document we ever wanted or needed, even the ones we were not entitled to. So, we want to share with you all some things to consider.
Something to remember is that up until the 1820s, no government employee in Russia was paid a salary. The official position of the government was that government employees were to live off their position -- that is take bribes. This culture lives on in both Russian and Ukraine. Also, remember that the Ukrainian government needs its officials' to be corrupt. If they were not taking bribes, then the government would need to pay them real salaries. That is why ALL 3rd world countries are corrupt. Corruption allows the government to pay its workers low wages. Thus, in economic terms, a bribe is a "bureaucrat determined user fee."
So.....you want to go immigrate to Israel, a birth certificate can be bought showing your parents are Jewish. You want to marry an American but your Ukrainian husband can't be found, his death certificate could be had for around $500; your 19 year old child needs a Ukrainian passport but now lives in the US, well, that goes from between $1,000 and $2,000 and so on.
Getting official papers only takes long for those who do not pay the required "user fee". The man difference between the US INS (now renamed, but still called the INS by everyone) and the Ukrainian version is this: in the US the INS is incompetent and honest; in Ukraine the equivalent is incompetent and corrupt. What this means is that in Ukraine you can make the government work faster for you. This applies for Ukrainian officials both IN and OUT of the country.
If you are waiting in line you have not paid your "user fee." I am not supporting or advocating corruption, just commenting on how the world works in Ukraine. The good news is that "user fees" in Ukraine tend to by inexpensive by international standards. I remember when my wife was getting her papers together to come to American on a fiance visa, I sent her via Western Union a stead stream of funds for "user fees". Papers that through official channels would take months to procure appeared almost instantly.
If you live in Ukraine and don't know how to arrange "user fees" for what you want, then find a successful person to show you the ropes.
If you are in the US or another Western country, then you need find "fixers", "facilitators" or "handlers"; people who for a fee know who to contact at the local Ukrainian consulate. The best place to look for these is in the nearest Russian/Ukrainian community. I use the term "Russian/Ukrainian" because the same facilitators seem to work equally well in either country. Where to look? Try speaking with these kind of services (all Russian/Ukrainian owned): translation services, notaries, travel agencies. If none of this turns up the person you need, then call the Russian/Ukrainian consulate nearest you and ask them the name of a lawyer. Say you have a legal question and would like to speak to a lawyer "they know is good and honest". This will get you directed to someone they get a finders fee from or other compensation. The Russian/Ukrainian member of your family need be the one doing the asking, not the American.
My wife once called the Ukrainian embassy in Washington, DC to ask about something she new the embassy could not do for her. After being told by an official that it could not be done (which she knew beforehand) she asked, "Do you know anyone who could help me with this matter." Sure enough, she was referred to a "bag man" in another city who quoted a price for what we needed. Being good capitalists, we took a lower offer from another "facilitator".
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