Work Visa to Qatar
Another short excerpt from Love versus Goliath, my memoir in progress. Previously published excerpts can be found under “The Book” menu or category. This part of our journey has not been discussed in detail on this website before. As always when I publish short pieces, readers’ feedback is very welcome!
DIAC = Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
Edit July 10, 2012 – If you are thinking of a work visa to Qatar for yourself, please ensure you read “Qatar, here I come” for details of the reality we found.
John had found out he could get a work visa to Qatar. However, it cost a fortune. $4,000 for the visa, then there would be airfares and living expenses. But he would have a job. He would be able to support himself and the children, save for airfares for my trip to Qatar and for them all to come home. I would be responsible for keeping the home fires burning and paying the legal fees. He also wanted to be able to send me money to “show DIAC they are wrong”. He was still hurting from the claims in the decision document, as was I.
I was very worried it could be a scam, as was John. I knew John had good friends and supporters and I had to trust him to negotiate his own world, but I also knew he had been away a long time. Things change, people change. We both researched. I asked a young Nigerian journalist I knew from a human rights page on Facebook. His advice was to be very, very careful. I checked all the details on the Qatar website. As far as we could tell, it was legitimate.
I sent John some money to pay a deposit on the visa. We were not going to pay the balance until I could verify the visa on the Qatar website. He was getting excited about the possibilities and we knew I would be able to visit him in Qatar, if I could just find out how to get a visa myself and could get my passport renewed in time! We would get to see each other! We had not touched since May, it was now December. Hopefully I would be in Qatar in late January. We would be able to make love, hold hands, look into each other’s eyes once more.
By mid-December I had managed to confirm as an Australian I would be granted a visitor visa on arrival in Qatar. One less thing to worry about.
It was both a good and a bad time: a few weeks before, expecting my family to arrive, I was capable of moving mountains, building bunks by myself. Now I was just running on empty. I needed that trip to see my husband. I looked around the house, it was a mess. Maybe I had another damn virus, I didn’t know, but I had a headache and I felt tired. Perhaps these were side effects of the terrible medication I had been forced onto. I decided I had to wean myself off the damn stuff, I couldn’t stand it. There was so much I should have done that weekend and I did none of it. I had no energy, no motivation. I wanted to crawl under the doona and hide from the world. My back was hurting because I hadn’t been exercising and was spending far too much time sitting: sitting at work, sitting at the computer at home. Yet I was also excited about our progress.
We didn’t know how much John would be earning, but anything would help given the circumstances and he was hoping to be able to send me airfare money very quickly.
I was looking at getting a job myself in Qatar. John’s working visa could be turned into permanent residency after a time and he could bring his family. At that point we even believed he would be able to bring the children to Qatar to join him quite quickly. Qatar isn’t Australia or New Zealand, but at least we would all be together. I was a little concerned about being a woman, an atheist and trying to find a suitable job in Qatar. We had no idea how long the appeal might take. We knew of people who had waited over two years for a hearing. Living in Qatar for two years was an option we had to consider.
The phone calls and text messages we exchanged organising this were many! Were we doing the right thing? What possible other options did we have? At least John would be safe, working and able to go out during the day! He would have freedom, even if he didn’t earn much. We suspected the quoted earnings were inflated but we could live with that given the benefits of John’s safety and him earning at least something.
By December 21 we had the visa! I printed it off the Qatar website and sent it to John by email. We paid the rest of the money for the visa and I borrowed money off my daughter and her husband to pay for John’s airfare to Qatar. He was to fly December 29. We needed to make sure he had enough money to pay the usual bribe to leave Nigeria as he was flying on a “virgin” passport. Going through the airport always was a major concern for John. Who might see him? He was also expected to be able to show he had travel funds, but we were broke by this stage. I sent him an authority letter stating I would deposit funds in his account as and when needed. I notified John’s Australian bank that he was relocating and would be using his card in Qatar.
This really was an exciting time. While I spent Christmas without my family and we hated having to leave the children without parents, we could see a future. It was a very fuzzy future as far as details were concerned, but it WAS a future.
Within a few hours of John arriving in Qatar I was terrified I was going to lose him to suicide. Nothing was as it was supposed to be. I knew my husband’s voice: he sounded as if he felt his life was over. He knew how much this had cost us, he had believed so strongly we were making an investment which we would recover several times over. Now he felt he had failed terribly. I was trying to save a man’s sanity over the phone. Would I succeed?