Friday, April 10, 2009

The Portuguese passport process - Goan agonies

After submitting the passport application with the necessary documentation, notarised and attested complete, to the Portuguese consulate in Goa, a period of "no movement whatsoever" steps in. This is the most excruciating waiting period for Goans which never seems to end.

Added to that is the bewilderment of witnessing cangoans waiting for portuguese processdidates who applied much after you, flashing the victory sign with their "Assento de Nascimento" already in hand and you are left twiddling your  thumbs in absolute angst at being left out for no reason whatsoever. And there seems to be no answers given for somebody who applied much after you to be suddenly overtaking you.

The above will strike a common chord among many Goans who have been patiently waiting to see the Portuguese authorities break ice over their process but to no avail. However fearing the imaginary ire of the Portuguese authorities, no one is willing to ask them about the means adopted to dispose off the applications. All that you have is a CRC process number and every time you gleefully punch it in the "application status" link on the Portuguese consulate website in Goa, you will see a non updated blank. No answers either. No timeframe to follow up. Just nothing to look forward to.

Portugal However in Portugal, the case is starkly different. After submitting the process application the process is given due credence and a date is fixed for you to collect your birth registration. So you go to the conservatoria in Portugal or its subsidiaries on the appointed date and collect your birth registration certificate ( Assento de nascimento). There is no waiting in the air. In the meanwhile, in Goa the suspense exists without explanation.

The reason for the disparity in the approach seems to be due to the fact that in Portugal, you can take recourse to legal action in case your process is being unduly held up and as such all applicants in Portugal get their process executed as per normal time taken. However in Goa where will you run to seek legal action ? For such recourse, you need to be in Portugal.

The answer to that it seems is to find a suitable person in Portugal to follow up your case with the Portuguese authorities with a power of attorney in his/her hand to argue your case. This is exactly what the agents in Goa promise to do. But with hundreds and thousands of applications at their disposal, their representatives in Portugal are pursuing your case like a needle in a haystack. Will they find it? And if they find it do they have the meticulous desire to diligently pursue your case with thousands of cases on their shoulder?

Practically, the answer is No. If not, the thousands of Goans whose processes are being held up by these agents for years would have not been still pulling their hair in despair. Most of the agents of Portuguese passports in Goa are like the barbers in Tirupati who shave Goans kept waiting by agents of portuguese passports half the head of their clients and keep them waiting aside for the next client to sit in. So every half shaved client is waiting to be shaved fully from the same barber only. In the bargain the barber ensures that he gets maximum clients and keeps them at his mercy because he charges the fee upfront. I know of many Goans who are half shaved with no sign of the final shave because the barber(agent) is busy with new clients. And these Goans have already spent to much to look out for another barber(agent). What a recipe for gullible Goans!

The only effective way is therefore to source a person yourself in Portugal who is going to give you undivided attention to pursue your case fast to claim your Portuguese nationality. While there are many genuine people in Portugal who pursue individual cases, they seem to have upped their fees recently and quote anywhere between 800 Euros to 1400 Euros to register your birth and marriage ( Assento de nascimento and Assento de casamento). As per today's currency exchange that's a loss of Rs 53,000 to Rs 92,000 for a process that should have taken its due course. In short a waste of money which could have fetched you and your spouse a return ticket holiday to Australia or the United states with bountiful shopping included.

The question therefore is whether Goans are willing to spend so much money on silly touts all over the place who are out to milk Goans just because the Portuguese authorities are crawling on our process. For those Goans who feel that the money is a small pittance compared to the promise of the Portuguese passport, I guess it is investment worth the while if the agent processes the application within a year with the Assento , the Bilhete de Identidade(BI) and the Portuguese passport, all ready. Else, it is money down the drain for the wrong reason.

However for Goans who feel they should have a better way out of this.. the answer is there is a way. In my future posts on this subject I shall detail out a strategy to adopt, which hopefully should assist Goans to process their applications faster.

In the meanwhile to read  all the posts on the Portuguese passport process made on this blog, CLICK HERE

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