Thursday, June 28, 2012

Visa Roulette


I find myself sinking further and further into “I hate this fucking country”-mode, which can only mean one thing:

TIME TO EXTEND MY RESIDENCY VISA!!

Whoot.  Whoot.  Joy.

I follow changes in immigration law like other people follow sports teams.  Currently the laws are like the underdog.  You cheer when they suck less and you keep hoping that they’ll get better, even though in your heart of hearts, you know they never will. 

Expats love to compare immigration policies.  People who have brought spouses to the US claim that the US wins for ass-suckery.  They point out that you get questioned in private matters and that many of the questions are outright offensive.

For future reference, American INS: My husband and I don’t have sex nearly enough and I am more than happy to deliver my husband and child over for you for paternity testing because, yes, I am THAT confident that my husband is the father of my child.

But whereas the US INS only ass rapes you the once (and it’s a good buggering, let’s be honest), Denmark likes to do it again and again.  And every year they learn of a new way to fuck you.  Denmark is proud of this.  The people (and I use the term loosely) that work in immigration like to point out how few visa applications there are and how few of those are granted, as if the goal for the country is to stop people from coming all together.

Shhhh, don’t tell anyone, but the goal is to stop people from coming to Denmark all together.

Anyway, after a bit of a hullabaloo about Danish citizens being unable to bring their spouses to Denmark just because they happen to not be EU citizens (the EU rules make it impossible for Denmark to keep EU residents from entering DK, possibly another reason DK would like out of the EU), these laws were relaxed.  Not completely repealed, but relaxed.  The Department of Integration was liquidated.  Now the blame for any immigration shenanigans can be passed from department to department.  By the time you figure out whom is behind any shitty rule, the author has been promoted to a different ministry.  (Finger pointing is a Danish pastime.)  Sure, it is now possible to bring your non-EU spouse to DK.  But Denmark is going out of its way to make sure they don’t stay permanently.


The rules that really get my goat? 

1) The working for 2.5 out of 3 years and currently being employed at the time of application (and granting of the permit).  Why is that a problem?  Where I live, most of the Danes don’t have full-time employment.  So I would need to move somewhere where I there’s the possibility of getting a job.  Which means that my husband would have to try to get another job.  Can I just tell you that now is not a good time to be looking for a job in journalism?  Even if you are a Dane?  As an archaeologist, I’m not going to find full-time employment for 2.5 years in a 10-year period.  So I guess a new career is in order.  I’m limited in my degree choices by my Danish language scores.  And I need to take a degree in something that will result in steady, full-time employment.  I’ve got an idea for that - but we’re looking at +3 years of education before entering the job market… so I might be able to apply for permanent residency in 7 years if I’m lucky. *

A lot of expats applaud this law, especially if they are gainfully employed.  This is kind of like how healthy people in the US don’t like socialized medicine, it’s easy to judge the people who lack the right cards when you have a full deck

Of course it’s my own fault I don’t have a full time job!  I should have majored in engineering or become a doctor because OBVIOUSLY I was going to meet a Dane and fall in love with him and decide to immigrate and I should have realized 15 years ago that the Danish government would change the immigration laws after I first applied for residency in 2008 and planned accordingly!!  And I certainly have no right to complain now, because I should have instructed my husband NOT to take the only job that he was offered because it required us to relocate out of the big city and be tied to one location when obviously he should have continued to work as a taxi driver so that we could move to wherever I might some day get a full-time job (that I would have already gotten if I had just made better career choices before I met my husband and if I’d just been better at learning languages).

Of course Denmark doesn’t mean to catch little ol’ WASP me in its big bad net.  It’s meant to prevent all those other immigrants who come over here to milk the system. But who exactly are these other immigrants?  ‘Cause I know when you (the uniformed masses, not you the reader, because obviously I don’t mean you the reader, you are the exception to the rule okay?) say other immigrants what you mean is “Somali” and “Iraqi” and “Afghani” and you do realize that they are here as asylum seekers (or my favorite phrase “quota refugees,” ‘cause Denmark doesn’t want them, but you know, the EU makes them take these damn refugees) and not here on a family-reunification visa? So, all those other other immigrants who married Danish citizens, then? 

2) Active Citizenship.  Seriously??  I need to be on the board or an “active member,” whatever that means, of an organization for a year?  Do you require this of native Danes?  No??  The only Dane I know who is involved in an organization is my husband, who also happens to be the head of the housing association where we own an apartment.  I’m pretty sure that having him appoint me to the board is nepotism.  I’m involved in a mother’s group and the local theater group, neither of which has “articles of association” that need to be documented.  Well, I’ll be sure to quit doing things that interest me and bring me into contact with Danes that I have things in common with and start volunteering at the Red Cross with the blue-aired brigade.   I’m sure that with a full-time job, I’ll have tons of time to be an active member!

3) It’s going to cost my Danish citizen husband 2,880 DKK ($483.16) to apply.  That’s just to apply.  If I’m denied, no refund.  If I get through, we get to do this again in a year or two or maybe, if I’m really lucky, three years.  Because the taxes that he pays are for Danish citizens who DIDN’T marry foreigners (excepting the royal family, who are free to marry any damn foreigner they want), so Danish spouses wanting to keep their dirty foreign wives had better be prepared to pay for that privilege. 

4) Biometric cards.  I have to present myself at either the center for immigration or one of a few selected police stations to be photographed and fingerprinted.  For my special identity card.  I didn’t have to be biometricked (new word, Webster!) for my driver’s license or for my Danish social security card.  But you know how us Family Reunification immigrants are, always stealing shit and leaving fingerprints…

Now I’ve been one to counsel patience for this government.  I know government moves slowly and in Denmark, where nothing happens unless there is a consensus, getting 89 Danes to agree to anything is a miracle (that’s a basic majority in the Parliament).   But I’m feeling a bit hoodwinked.  Sure, they softened the requirements to get the temporary residency visa for family reunification (I mentioned this above, it was a moment we all cheered that our team sucked a little less this year).  But then they stopped.  And added the biometric cards.  Yes, this government added the biometric card.  In May.  (If you have applied for extension but not gotten it before May 20th, you will have to go be biometricked.  This ends your public service announcement.)  Instead of continuing with immigration reform, they’ve hammered out a tax reform that no one likes, forgotten that the last government’s border wars were still ongoing and that the EU Parliament is quite upset with Denmark.  (In case you haven’t been following, Denmark used the it’s presidency [which revolves between member states every 6 months] to change the EU laws so that it can do whatever it damn well wants without EU approval.)   

So there you have it.  Denmark is a pot of water heating up on the stove and we are the frogs, slowly being boiled to death.  It’s still currently more difficult and expensive to move elsewhere, but only just.

*Note: there’s been some talk of allowing education to count towards employment, but the rule still stands for “regular” family-reunification visa holders

4 comments:

  1. Those effing pees! *HULK RAMPAGE*

    I feel like the best solution for everyone would be if an organisation was set up to rescue all the foreigners (and foreigner-enthusiast spouses), and get them to safety.

    Then Denmark can see how well it does with all the inbred boozers it does such a great job generating.

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  2. Greetings from a soon-to-be-ex-Californian moving to Aarhus this month with a Danish husband (who has been happliy ensconced in various parts of the U.S. for the last 12+ years) and our little boys. We are almost done jumping through the hoops to secure my Danish temporary residence permit. Love the deposit that we have to pay (not into an interest-bearing account, natch; in fact, most Danish banks wanted to charge us for the privilege of allowing them to hold onto our hard-earned cash for 4 years while we can't touch it -- luckily we found a way to get around that racket)...love the fact that they wanted me to document my ability so speak Spanish and French so I could get some bonus points...so silly. I have a doctorate, have been gainfully employed in a high-paying career for over a decade, got my undergraduate degree from a university in their "world's top 50" (or whatever it is they call it on that random ranking website), etc. -- so I think I had something like double the required minimum number of points required to allow me to even be considered for a permit. At this point, I'm thinking Denmark should pay *ME* for even considering living there for the next few years. :)

    We went through the reverse process to secure a green card for my husband in the U.S. and it wasn't bad at all. In fact, it was quite easy -- we did it ourselves, no lawyers required, no invasive questions, etc. Wishing you patience and strength to deal with the next application...

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  3. Kathy, hear hear.

    My colleagues (and bosses) at work were so extremely surprised knowing that I didn't have Danish passport yet (Don't know why they think I have / want one). I told them that I couldn't even secure permanent residency yet. They have no idea how the rules were made to be difficult here.

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  4. This Indonesian, I have been following your blog and loving it for years now and hope to join all of you soon enough on documenting my own experiences as a Danish immigrant. I credit all of you who have been sharing your own stories (the good, the bad, and the ugly) online with giving both me *and* my husband a very balanced preview of what we are up against, and ensuring I'm not going into this with rose-colored glasses. Heck, they are even making it challenging for my husband to have any enthusiasm about moving back at this point -- Skat has bent the rules (in their favor of course) to argue that he isn't eligible for the tax credit for foreigners or Danes who have lived outside of the country for 10 years. He has in fact lived outside of the country for over 10 years in the U.S., but one of those years he was a post-doc here and was told by Skat that he had to pay taxes to Denmark that year even though he was 100% resident in the U.S. -- simply because he had not sold his flat in Copenhagen. In retrospect, he should have been paying U.S. taxes that year and ownership of a flat there should have had no bearing on the tax situation for him. When he pointed that out to them, he was informed that because the case was now over X years old, Skat wouldn't even talk anymore about it. Lovely.

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