Posted by on 1 Oct 2014. Filed under Current Affairs, The Expat, Top news. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Alien Police and Alienated Foreigners

Most foreigners coming to live in Slovakia discover very early the problems they can expect to encounter when visiting the so-called Alien Police Department, which has developed a reputation, in Bratislava at least, as a place of nightmare scenarios.

Most people have to make several visits, usually involving hours of waiting, as more often than not there is always something missing from their application, with many people receiving vague and conflicting information from different officers. It has also become a numbers game, with people even camping outside the building to get the first numbers from the almost holy ticket machine in the morning. This has led literally to ticket touts and paid place-holders who get tickets for those not willing to wait, and there is always a willing customer.

The name of the department itself was contested before it was finally approved because of the word alien, which although correct from a grammatical perspective, is probably not the best choice. The department in Bratislava covers the whole Bratislava region, a massive catchment area that also draws in most foreigners coming to the country. The building is located in a hidden back street of the labyrinth that is Petrzalka, just to test the foreigners’ orientation skills and ability to combine a few buses to get even close.

photo by Elkman

Once upon a time, the foreigner police departments were located locally in the individual boroughs of Bratislava, meaning the officers knew all their aliens personally, with no queues, ticket machines or any unnecessary obstructions. That all changed with the centralisation of the whole region to a single understaffed office. Daily SME cites interior minister Robert Kalinak as comparing waiting all night to get served to waiting for a new iPhone. He did promise, though, to look into better or bigger premises for the department next year.

Cases of frustration, confusion, nervous breakdowns can be found all over Facebook, for instance, as many foreigners undergo a true test of patience. One couple with small kids were stuck there for 5 hours, and they were EU citizens who have a separate office that is normally swifter. The problem has recently caught media attention again, especially as the ticket machine has apparently been out of order for over a year. This has led to a self-initiative among the foreigners, who have created their own queue list, taking shifts to keep the list going and even talking about crowdfunding to get a new system.

The dreaded alien police experience is made worse by the fact that most information on the walls is only in Slovak and the officers themselves speak mostly only Slovak. Taking a friend along who can speak the language is therefore par for the course. Despite a new setup put in place last year, the long-wait and missing document nightmare for foreigners registering in Slovakia looks set to continue until somebody takes control of streamlining the whole operation, but best not hold your breath for that one.

In case you are not camping out, here are the new office hours of the Alien Police Department in Bratislava as of today (1 October 2014).
Monday 7.30 – 12.00, 12.30 – 15.00
Tuesday 7.30 – 12.00
Wednesday 7.30 – 12.00, 12.30 – 17.00
Friday 7.30 – 13.00

10 Comments for “Alien Police and Alienated Foreigners”

  1. Navid

    Dear sir or modem,

    Could you please give me the number or email of Foreign Police in Slovakia, who are able to speak english?

    thanks in advance

    Navid Goudarzi

  2. Mark

    How come you don’t publish my comment ?

    ——–

    Mark
    2 October 2014 – 12:27 pm

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I guess Aliens are associated with the UFO bridge. Now, seriously, having visited 4 times the office this year till early summer, for family reasons (EU nationals) I have never seen the ticket system working.

    Once I was asked to visit another day since they were closing at 5pm. I was waiting for an hour with 4 more people.

    Not to mention, that there is a clear preference in Slovaks returning back to country, as they are entitled to get serviced first even if you’ve been waiting at the queue for 3-4 hours. This is the essence of Aliens, I guess.

    If you find someone that understands basic English, you are fortunate and I don’t speak the Alien language, either. And there more issues there.

    One thing to say, is that if your authorities and as a country, don’t like or want to be part of bigger international communities or organizations, just go ahead and state it clearly that you don’t want foreigners, don’t do things subtle. Don’t forget that other EU countries will continue to accept and treat your people properly as you should too someday.

    Thumbs down for the supervising authorities.

    • Sorry Mark and everyone else whose (first) comments have been held up in past few weeks. This was due to a technical issue, so hopefully all good now.

      • George M

        Bloody Crap software that`s why Mark , technical issue my ass , Ho ho ho !

        …oh well, off back to the Italian Villa and the Vineyard today. Have fun Plebs, you`re all doomed !

  3. Mac

    the foreign police its horible, in Banska Bystrica from my ex, no one could speak english, only think they know in english is to say “money money” and “why do you came in slovakia if you cant speak slovak”, they ask stupid documents, like to show them around 300e in cash, just to wave at them :/, but they are easily bribable so thats the bright side :D

  4. daphnia

    eventhough I come from european country less developed than slovakia I have never been treated like an animal as in front of alien police office. You wake up atn2 and go there to wait until 7.30. You get a number (e.g.40) because there are some lawyers taking 10 numbers at once, you wait until 17:30 and go home because the last announced number was 31. So 31 persons for 3 offices for 10 hours. I have never been more helpless and humilliated in my life. It is a disgrace

  5. Dave C.

    I have to say that, other than not allowing me to apply for a new ID on a Friday when it expired on the following Monday, which was a holiday, I found our local Alien Police quite efficient, both officers spoke English. If you think the BA office is remote just try finding the one in Presov.
    Can anyone explain the limited opening hours of almost every public service office? I use the term “public service” tongue in cheek because customer focus and serving the public appear to be “alien” concepts here.

  6. Matteo

    “interior minister Robert Kalinak as comparing waiting all night to get served to waiting for a new iPhone. He did promise, though, to look into better or bigger premises for the department next year.”
    How incredibly arrogant and nearsighted. The MOI is to work for the people and not serve themselves. The system is broken and SK will never make any moves forward in this world without foreigners becoming residents or citizens. Still no proper infrastructure in place? Archaic system that simply does not work. You have fallen behind SK and not wanting to be more “global” is a key reason.

  7. Esteban

    On the other hand I think the good should be portrayed as well. While the BA office can be chaos, other offices in other towns of Slovakia are well run and organized too.

    I deal with the office in Nove Zamky, never had to wait in queue, officers were friendly and informative. My first times I needed someone who spoke slovak, and lately they are patient when I try to speak my broken slovak to them.

    For the number of people that the BA office has to serve, then probably it’s quite different. But at least I do want to say that it is not bad everywhere, and pity that you cannot go to other town’s foreign police to get what you need done.

  8. V

    Tell me about it. I even had to return to Asia just to get a new police clearance because the one they have already expired. They reviewed my case at the last minute making the documents I submitted on time “expired”.

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