#ForeignersTeam Martin Faů has been working as an Expat & Immigration Consultant (or as we say, EC) at Foreigners for more than a year and a half. By March 2022 he has helped 211 clients. He was recently promoted to a senior consultant. We sat down with Martin to talk about how his job changed during the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, which services he enjoys arranging the most, and what kind of immigration stories stuck in his mind.
Martin has been with Foreigners for a year and 7 months.
Martin, congratulations on being promoted to a senior! Did it surprise you?
I was definitely surprised and had no idea it was going to happen. I’m really happy about it but at the same time, I’m sure it means that when there are difficult cases or it’s necessary to take care of companies with specific requirements, I’ll be the first in line to handle these tasks. So the promotion also means a challenge for me.
How long have you been working as an immigration consultant and how did you come across this job?
I’ve been with Foreigners for a year and 7 months and getting this job was more or less a coincidence. I used to work in the travel industry, but I had to change my profession because of the pandemic. I’m used to working in international environments and so when I saw the description of this position, the requirements etc., I saw myself in it. I thought, “this is me, they’re looking for me, so I have to rescue them!” (laugh)
What does the position of an immigration consultant entail?
In general, Expat & Immigration Consultants help arrange a legal stay for foreigners who want to come to Czechia for a particular purpose – e.g. work, studies, family, culture, volunteering. The goal is to make sure everything is legally sound so that the foreigner doesn’t have to worry about anything or fear that something will go wrong or that their residency will be cancelled and they won’t be able to finish what they came to do here. We make sure that foreigners are not alone on their immigration journey and that they have support.
Martin with two other members of the Foreigners immigration team, Olda and Asia.
What’s the most difficult aspect of this job?
For me personally, it’s mainly keeping track of all my open cases at once. Sometimes I have 30 to 50 clients at the same time and considering some processes can take months, it’s necessary to know what’s going on at all times in all of them.
At the same time, I need to be aware of what’s going on legally, whether there have been any changes in the immigration law or on the side of the institutions, whether it’s the Ministry of the Interior or the embassies. These things can change on a daily basis these days because of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. It can be a challenge.
Do you have a special system to keep track of all of this?
I don’t consider myself a particularly organized person, but this is something I keep a close eye on. Once a week I sit down and go through all of my cases. I make sure I know what’s going on, double-check all deadlines, and send follow-up emails if necessary. It’s a simple system but it works amazingly well.
How did the nature of your job change during the pandemic?
We’ve been doing a lot more explaining and communicating. We have to keep explaining to our clients that we really don’t know when their case will be completed and when their application will be processed. During the pandemic, nobody knew when things would change – it could be weeks, months… some applications dragged on for a year, which is of course not a standard. So foreigners were understandably frustrated and kept pressuring us even though we didn’t really have the tools to help them. Not even ECs have the power to reopen embassies (laughs).
And what about the war in Ukraine?
Similar kind of uncertainty. At the moment, all embassies in Russia and Belarus are closed, so some visa applications we handled before the conflict are currently frozen or completely cancelled. And just like with the pandemic, we have no idea how long the situation will last – if we’re talking months or even years.
Which immigration service is your favourite to arrange?
I enjoy arranging visa and residence permits for the purposes of family reunification and temporary residence permits for family members of EU citizens. Foreigners tend to care deeply about these cases and so the cooperation is very active and pleasant. They communicate and ask questions about which additional documents I need to make sure the case is successful. I really appreciate that. Often it’s partners who haven’t seen each other in months or even spouses or families with children. These reunifications are important. And when it all goes well, they’re super happy, which then makes me happy.
Martin’s clients appreciate his professionalism, communication, and support.
Are there any stories that stick out in your mind?
There have been many interesting cases, but one story sticks out in my mind. I was helping out a young graduate from a third country who had applied for a business visa after finishing university in Czechia without really knowing what she was getting herself into. She wasn’t even technically doing any business in the Czech Republic yet and so she had no documentation to support her application. I did my best to help her get as much of it as possible and it was a lot of work, but it was almost certain that the case would be denied and she’d have to leave the country.
We were so worried we decided to apply for another student visa so that she could stay here. And while we were standing in the line at the Ministry of the Interior to file this new application, we suddenly got a notification that her original business visa was approved!
So, literally at the eleventh hour, things resolved in a positive way. She was allowed to stay here on her business visa and didn’t have to apply to another school, which she didn’t even want. We were both very happy.
What’s your relationship with foreign cultures? Do you have a favourite one?
My relationship with foreign cultures is very good. I graduated from a hotel school which allowed me to work in different places around the world, including Turkey, Greece, Spain, the Channel Islands, the UK, Dominican Republic, and Indonesia. So foreign cultures aren’t just familiar to me from the point of view of a tourist, but also on a daily basis as a resident. I think I’ve built a great deal of tolerance and understanding throughout the years.
Moreover, because I used to live abroad and was forced to arrange my own residencies, go to the local Ministries of the Interior, etc., I know way too well what it’s like to be relocating somewhere. I can understand the foreigners’ struggles. I was actually surprised by how not good the immigration system in Czechia is. The amount of nonsensical and often contradictory rules is humongous.
What do you do in your free time? How do you relax?
Mainly I enjoy doing sports because my job is about sitting at the computer a lot. I’ve done long-distance running and swimming since school and that’s the greatest form of relaxation for me. It’s important for me to make the time – 2 hours or so – and drive out into nature to go for a run.
How would you describe the work of Expat & Immigration Consultant using 5 words?
Job that changes foreigners’ lives.
Are you planning on relocating to Prague? Maybe you’ll even get to meet Martin! Let us know if you need any help with your immigration matters and settling down. We are here to make you feel at home!