Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How to handle Russian Bureaucracy with poise sand success

1. Dress nicely.
Seriously, it will put you in the mindset that you are going to conquer all, handle any curveballs, take on the world.
2. Never ever ever ever go to any "migration services" (unless it's a neatly organized International Department in a university) alone. Always go with someone you feel comfortable with and trust.
3. Do everything and say everything the person you most trust tells you to.
4. Be competent in the language, but not over-confident. Leave room for a "margin of error", and don't feel like you can argue and/or talk-back to people in Russian. Leave that for the person who accompanies you to handle.
5. Bring cash.
6. Be extra polite to everything. Act as if formulating your documents is the most wonderful thing anyone has ever done for you.
7. When asking questions, make sure you ask the RIGHT questions. Meaning, make sure that everything is 100% clear. Never ask questions about unnecessary information (not related to what bureaucrats are asking for). If you do this, you might dig yourself into a bigger hole, i.e, if you uncover an issue, a bureaucrat might ask more questions about it.
8. Keep in mind, these people most likely have boring, tedious lives. It's better to be hassled by a bureaucrat than actually BE a bureaucrat.
9. NEVER assume any bureaucratic process to be based on logic or common sense.
10. It's always good to have friends. Even friends of friends of friends in higher places.
11. Read up on the laws, requirements, and processes, so you can know if such a cost or document is actually necessary or not. Realize, that sometimes people say things to scare you. Their work is BORING. Some people will scare you because it makes their work more interesting. But then, you come across the rare bureaucrat that actually realizes that helping someone out of a difficult situation is more fulfilling than scaring them :) 

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