LINES in front of Bratislava’s Office of the Border and Alien Police were so long in September that people would arrive a full 15 hours before business hours – some sleeping on the street.
“I do not think it is normal to wait here for such a long time,” Sawinee, a woman from Thailand living in Slovakia, told the public broadcaster STV on September 29. “We have to go to work and we cannot afford to spend such amounts of time here.”
Moreover, foreigners complain that students sometimes come early to wait for appointment tickets issued by the office and then sell them for around €80, and claim that even police officers sell the tickets, according to the Sme daily.
Police claim that people have started arriving at Petržalka’s office earlier since the beginning of September because of an increase in the number of people seeking temporary residence in Slovakia for student, business or personal activities. In the past, people arrived just one hour before the office opened, according to Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák, Sme reported on September 30.
“When they now come at midnight to [reach the officers] at 8:00, it almost resembles waiting for an iPhone,” Kaliňák said, as quoted by Sme.
Situation on Monday
The first foreigner who wanted to visit the office opening on Monday September 29 at 7:30 came to its doors on Sunday at around 16:30. By 1:00 some 49 people were waiting. Some of them chatted in groups, other slept outside of the office in tent, sleeping bags or just on the ground under a blanket.
The foreigners’ police office is currently able to handle only 50 people in a single day, which is allegedly due to having to train and instruct new officers. In the past, the office handled 150 people a day and the queues were not as bad, said one of the foreigners in front of the office, according to Sme.
“We have been always coming here at 5:00, 4:00 at the earliest and we were the first here,” Akmal Khudoynazarov, a student from Uzbekistan, told Sme.
To avoid arguments foreigners created a list of names of people who came to the office. The order was however unofficial, not everyone respected it and conflicts about the queue emerged. Some foreigners who came in the morning did not understand that people had been waiting all night.
Trading in tickets
However, foreigners are not the only ones who wait in queue at the office. There are allegedly also students, businessmen or even police officers on the scene trading in numbered tickets that give those waiting a place in line.
“I reported it to the police officers but they told me that what happens outside is our problem,” said a man carrying the names list, as quoted by Sme.
Kaliňák responded that the police have no control over what happens outside their premises. Police also denied claims about police officers trading with tickets and stated that it had not noticed any cases of fabricated tickets, according to Sme.
Dealing with the alien police and waiting in queues is business for some agencies which help foreigners with necessary documents for a fee. Their employees even stand in the queue instead of foreigners if it is needed.
“Since they [foreigners] are busy in their firms they come here just to replacemy people who stand in queue instead of them,” Beáta Kozmová from one of such agencies said, as quoted by STV. “I cannot imagine that some director of a big company would stand here in the queue at midnight.”
The reward for an agency which obtains for example all documents for businessmen from third countries reaches the sum of €1,000, according to STV.
“The black market is running here,” Ibrahim, a Kurdish man living in Slovakia said, as quoted by the Aktualne.sk news website on September 29. “Those are mostly law firms which arrange residence for foreigners. Every nationality has its own person here who deals with it, who makes things easier.”
The office is normally opened only Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but has since added business hours on Tuesdays and prolonged them on Fridays, according to police spokeswoman Denisa Baloghová, the TASR newswire reported.
In the past the Interior Ministry tried to increase the number of workers in the office but it did not help since the whole system does not allow changing of procedures. In 2015 two facilities are to be built, according to Kaliňák, Sme reported.
3. Oct 2014 at 0:00 | Roman Cuprik