tirsdag, oktober 04, 2005

1 down, 42 to go

If I were to set this post to music, you would certainly now be listening to the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah. The reason? I have recently officially completed one of the 43 things I'd like to do before I die, namely #22, becoming family reunified (in Danish, familiesammenføring). For those not in the know, this is a big deal. Nowhere in the European Union makes it easy for non-EU citizens (like, for example, me) to settle, but I've never had such visa annoyances as I've had here, despite having lived legally for 8 and a half years elsewhere in the Union before arrival.

For those who don't know me personally, and who haven't followed the whole saga, here's a summary of the process.

May-June, 2003: Did the Camino de Santiago. Met Danish man on the way. Started to make regular weekend visits to Copenhagen and use up phone cards.

Dec. 2003: Moved to Denmark, on a tourist visa, figuring it would be easier for me to find a job in Denmark than for Thor to find a job in London (I'm an English teacher, and can theoretically find work anywhere; Thor's job deals with Denmark-specific employment regulations, and is very local.)

End January-Start February, 2004: Offered a job, and applied for work visa.

February-August 2004: Waited, called immigration every week, and watched a lot of bad television. During this time, I couldn't work, even voluntary work, couldn't take Danish lessons, couldn't open a bank account, could check out library books, but only because I used Thor's card. The application process supposedly lasts 8-10 weeks, by the way. The phone calls to immigration always followed the same pattern, and became increasingly surreal...

(Me) I'd like to check the status of my case.
(Immigration) There's been no change, but the process does take 8-10 weeks.
(Me) Yes, I know, but it's been 19 weeks!
(Immigration, sounding confused) Oh, well...I'm sure you'll get an answer soon!

This went on for months. To give a point of reference, my work permit application in England took about 2 weeks.

August, 2004: The first hallelujah moment, as I got a 1-year work permit.

March, 2005: Our first application for familiesammenføring. There are lots of rules for this. Both parties must be over 24, and must show greater ties to Denmark than to any other country (this part is waived if the Dane has had Danish citizenship or permanent residency for over 28 years). The Danish resident must earn enough to support the immigrating partner, live in a house of over a minimum size, and present a 50,000 Danish Kroner (about $8,000) bank guarantee (as the immigrating partner is not entitled to state support for several years after approval). We met these requirements. For 'samlever' applications (where the couple is cohabitating, rather than married), the couple should normally have lived together for a minumum of a year and a half. We figured that by the time the paperwork was started, we would have met the time requirement.

April, 2005: We figured wrong. It took just under a month for us to get a rejection, on the (perfectly valid) grounds that we hadn't lived together for long enough. The rejection letter nicely stated that I had no deadline to leave the country in light of my work permit. Otherwise, I believe I would have had 2 weeks to pack my bags - and I would have had to pack my bags, as appeals can only be done from the country of origin, not from within Denmark.

June, 2005: Familiesammenføring application, take two. This had some extra steps, but progressed as it should have.

September, 2005: Hooray, I am now officially reunified!

And, this is only because our application was 'fast-tracked', meaning that we could supply proof that we met all the demands. I both know, and know of, people who have waited, or who have been waiting, for up to a year for approval. These are people who have made the comittment and gotten married, too...unlike Thor and me, who faffed about for so long not getting married, that in the end we didn't need to.

The silver lining? Well, have you ever lived with someone too dispirited to do anything, and unable to get a job? I haven't, but Thor did for several months. I was not happy, neither was he, and the relationship was strained, to say the least. And we're still together. Had we known what the process would have been like, we quite likely wouldn't have gone through it. So, it's good that we didn't know, and 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger' goes for relationships too. And we've had at least two occasions (first the work permit, and now family reunification) to drink a lot of champagne.

10 kommentarer:

Daphnewood sagde ...

whoohoo! I am doing a happy dance for you. It isn't a pretty dance so drink another glass of champagne before looking at it. I had no idea you had to jump through so many hoops. Couldn't you just sneak across the border? hire a coyote like they do here? The again there is always the chance you might get sold into slavery. Better to do the paperwork ;) congrats, Kimananda Patron Goddess of Procrastination.

Vanessa sagde ...

Congratulations! I raise my glass of diet pepsi to you!

Chibithulhu sagde ...

Chibithulhu believes the Danish immigration department is run by what Douglas Adams calls Vogons. Chibithulhu thinks Vogons are delicious if you add enough tomato sauce.

kimananda sagde ...

Thanks to you all for your support.

But Chibithulhu, does that mean that if I had called more often, that they would have tried to recite poetry to me?!

Sangroncito sagde ...

Fascinating! I had read that Denmark had tough requirements but I ñever imagined that. I have two Danish great grandparents and two Danish names (Clausen Andersen)....why can't I just show up and be welcomed "home"? Wishful thinking.....

kimananda sagde ...

Nope, Sangroncito, you would quite possibly not be welcomed with open arms (though you wouldn't be scorned either). The good news is that if you meet the Danish man of your dreams, then you can legally marry him (though only in a civil ceremony, not in the 'folkekirken' or state church) and then apply to get in that way.

Chibithulhu sagde ...

Chibithulhu disapproves of human poetry, as it only expresses one word at a time and is inferior to the cacophonic excretions of the Great Old Ones during mating season. Vogon Poetry is okay.

David sagde ...

So, why did you want to do this in Denamark? I mean I know that we make it ridiculously easy for people to come into the United States.
"Oh, here is the border, walk across and we will give you water, education for your kids, and a job for cash - don't worry about paying taxes, everyone else will just pay more so you can send the money back home"

sorry "ranting from the library"
I say Danish imigration sucks!

kimananda sagde ...

Hi David,

No problem about the ranting... but I'm quite honestly not sure what position you're taking with your rant.

I do not think that it is easy to immigrate to any country, and I certainly don't think that it is easy to immigrate to the US, or to live in the US once you've immigrated there (I assume your quoted part was sarcastic. If it wasn't, well, I apologize for the misunderstanding... but I really don't agree with the sentiment). I just wanted to recap my own experience with Denmark as part of celebrating my own new visa status.

As for why I chose Denmark, I think that's pretty clear from my post.

Cammy sagde ...

Congratulations! I'm not sure I would have had your tenacity in wading through the bureaucracy. I hope you'll both be very happy!

*toasts from Memphis, TN, USA*