Saturday, February 21, 2009

Portuguese passport : a fairy tale for many Goans

portuguese consulate in Goa The penchant for the Portuguese passport has only increased among Goans over the years. This despite the fact that many consider the whole exercise as futile and bearing little fruit. Yet, the desire to apply for the Portuguese nationality and wait for years to see that special "dream day" is something many a Goan has learnt to live with.

However the disgruntlement in the minds of Goans is loud and clear. The inability to get the passport or the absolute  lack of clarity in the duration required to obtain the Portuguese passport has left many Goans very annoyed and helpless.

The documentation required by the Portuguese administration also changes with time. Probably the administration is trying to keep up with the best criteria to identify genuine applicants in quest of the Portuguese passport. However this has been viewed by Goans with a lot of suspicion and the whole process is often referred to as unreasonable by Goans who have found themselves stranded for years.

While there is no clarity in the issuance of the Portuguese passport, it is without doubt the prerogative of the Portuguese government to effect whatever changes are required for documentation and Goans should try to understand this from the view of the Portuguese government.

Earlier between the period 1986 to around 1994 the process was much simpler. However for most of that period, there was no consulate in Goa and one had to travel to Delhi to get things done which discouraged many Goans to apply for the passport. In that period, the entire family could apply for the passport together under the shelter of the person born before December 19th 1961. So the process took the least amount of time with the entire family applying together.

However the rules changed somewhere around 1994-95 when the Goa consulate made it mandatory for the parents to be registered first and then after the assento de nascimento ( birth certificate) was registered the marriage certificate ( assento de casamento) was the next step. Only after producing these two documents the children could be eligible to apply.

In recent times there has been another change. The parent whose birth is registered in Portugal also needs to obtain the Bilhete Identidade ( Identity card of Portugal) and subsequently register the marriage. So nowadays  it has  become a longer procedure for the children to get the two requisite documents.

While these changes may be required to be done, one cannot understand the sense of delaying the entire process for years by the Portuguese government. Clearly there seems to be a deliberate "go slow" approach employed by the Portuguese government in most cases. Strangely there seems to be no hierarchy or seniority of a particular application for nationality and it is often issued at random to candidates without following the merits of a descending order of  application.

People in Goa are also often befuddled at the way Goans are called out by their token numbers when they wait for their turn at the Portuguese consulate in Goa with any random calling of token numbers. If one may argue that it may be due to different office staff in the consulate handling different procedures and so calling out as per their particular order, a close observation belies that theory. In short there is a random system followed which nobody can understand. And honestly no Goan is willing to ask lest he risks his chances at the mercy of the staff.

The pursuit for the passport is also made through the services of various agents and touts who claim to have good knowledge of Portuguese and also good contacts in the Conservatoria in Portugal. However bitter experiences of some Goans have proved that some of these agents are all out to make a fast buck in the name of the Portuguese passport and follow the normal procedure laid down by the consulate and the Conservatoria, thereby failing to actually expedite the process

However some Goans prefer their services which are honestly of little value unless some representative actually pushes the process in Portugal.

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