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I'm officially an employee at ZSMS Klecany!

It was quite a process to get here though. Here are some details.

Visa applications at other embassies:
If you're applying to get a work visa through any Czech embassy besides the one in Chicago, you can send your application in by mail. Make sure you check and double check their lists of requirements, which can be found on their websites, but then go ahead and send everything in. Remember it can take 60-90 days to process your application so do it as soon as you can. However, it is possible to live here and volunteer at your school (for 90 days I believe) before your visa actually goes through. So have no fear! Your school just can't pay you until you get your visa.

Visa applications at the Chicago Embassy:
If you do apply to Chicago, you must schedule an appointment and appear in person with all your documents in order. If, for example, you live in Nebraska, you apply to Chicago and yes, you do still have to come all the way to the embassy to be processed. They'll go through them with you, making sure you have everything, fingerprint you with their little scanner, and send your things on your way. A fact I learned, teachers do not need a vacancy number, which people in other professions definitely do need. I had to go down there more than once to sort out things, but luckily for me I live only about an hour and a half north of the city so it wasn't too bad. Now, as big of a pain as it might be to have to go in person to the embassy, take comfort in the fact that I (because I am a procrastinating bum and because of some red tape (the vacancy number thing, the translation of my school contract wasn't correct etc)) did not get my application sent in until the 8th of August. (Let me repeat, the eighth of August. And yes, I was supposed to leave on the 22nd of August. And yes my job was supposed to start on the 5th of September. You might notice that there were not 60-90 days between my application processing and the start of my job. There weren't even 30 days.) However, the Chicago embassy is truly magical and I got a call on the 6th of September saying my visa had been processed and I could go to the Ministry of the Interior to pick it up. I was the last of us CIEE Teach Abroad in Prague teachers to apply and the second to get that call. 

Ministry of the Interior in Prague:
You will need two appointments here (but luckily for me I got three!). The first will be to sign some papers that are all written in Czech, take a picture, scan your fingerprints, and receive a form to bring with you next time, which says you must also bring some stamps. And the second will be the appointment to actually pick up your official employment card. 

As you might imagine the ministry is a very busy place even though there are several different buildings all over Prague. You set up an appointment (actually CIEE will do it for you) go to your assigned location (someone from CIEE will meet you at somewhere close and take you there. Be extra on time. That's very important), get your number, wait for it to be called, sign the papers, go home, come back in two weeks, sign some more papers, and take home your card.

(Fun fact, the ministry workers do not speak English and they have no hired interpreters. This won’t mater for a CIEE teacher because you’ll have a Czech-speaking CIEE employee of a Czech-speaking CIEE dorm buddy, but it is kind of an interesting tidbit that the place that every foreigner from every country all over the world will have to go to at least once during their employment does not employ interpreters.)

This is no longer directly Visa/employment card related, but my Czech employment card from the Ministry made it possible for me to activate my bank account here so I thought I’d note that.

During orientation CIEE will schedule time for you to go to AirBank to set up an account in your name where your school can send your direct deposits.

In order to set up the account you must provide two accepted forms of ID at the bank. For everyone with a driver’s license and a passport this was a totally painless process. (Quick note: If you have an American driver’s license you don’t need to read this. It won’t affect you.)

Lucky for the rest of us though, AirBank will not take a State ID card from the United States. I told several employees there on several different visits to the bank that is it exactly the same document minus the part where it says I can drive. No go. They would not take it. They tried, but it wouldn't go through their system. Of course, this literally means that if you can’t drive in the United States you cannot open an account here, which I also told them. And since the reason for my not driving is a visual impairment I then told them that they were essentially telling me that since I have a disability I can’t have a bank account. (Obviously this is insane!) I was polite because it wasn’t the fault of the people helping me set up my account and they were nice to me, but I didn’t conceal the fact that it’s really terrible they won’t accept a State ID and that I really hope they bring my situation up to someone with the power to make the necessary changes.

So I had no bank account until about two weeks ago. I had the debit card but it and the account it was associated with it were inactive because I hadn’t provided two forms of accepted ID.

(On the bright side, ultimately my lack of bank account didn’t really hurt anybody. It did cost me a little money because I had to use my American card instead, but since I could not be paid it wasn’t as if I had thousands of koruna laying around somewhere. Really no harm done.)

But now that I have my employee card I can be paid so I really do need the account to work so what do I do? Well, the day I got the card, I went straight to the bank and said, “Hi, here’s my American passport and my Czech employment card also my American state ID! Let’s activate this account.” Everything went smoothly and now I can be paid.

In summary, all of this is an adventure. Congratulations to you for reading all about it.

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