onsdag, december 06, 2006

Just a bit of bureaucracy

In Lisbon, I got to do it twice a year (towards the end, only twice every other year), and it took at least 4 or 5 hours each time. In London, the one time I tried it, I arrived at around 5 in the morning, in the cold, in the dark, and in Croyden, and left shortly after 2 in the afternoon after being told that I didn't have all the documentation I needed. Here in Copenhagen, it has taken me up to 5 hours before, but today, it took only about 2 hours, for which I am extremely grateful.

I am speaking, of course, about the immigration experience, and waiting in line to either turn things in or to get things renewed. I am also thrilled that I only had to wait 6 and a half months for the renewal, as I had heard rumors of waiting times of up to a year. This means that I was only without a valid visa in my passport for about 5 months, though of course could still live where I am and work and so on because of my previous visa.

When I write these things, it occurs to me that my sense of timing is becoming extremely warped. Two hours is a long time to wait. Six months is a long time to get a renewal on something where none of the conditions, addresses, incomes, housing size, nothing has changed. And yet, for the countries I've lived in, they seem like remarkably short time spans to me.

So, I ask you...please help me readjust my sense of bureaucracy. Tell me your horror stories, the horror stories you've heard from your friends and family, horror stories you've seen or read or heard on the news. Because I'm afraid this will spread to the rest of my life. And because at the rate this is going, soon I'll be overjoyed at being only the 27th person in line at my local Fakta.*

*A discount supermarket, known for inordinately long lines, and only one cashier working at any time of the day or week.

13 kommentarer:

Collective Heartburn sagde ...

Oh wow am I really the first to be posting a comment here??? I feel like I'm the first one at the party. The early guest.

Anyway...I'm sure you're familiar with some of mine. Like my first renewal scare, though it only took 2 months, they initially told me I'd have to leave because our apartment was only a 2 year sublet.

This last time they canceled my permit even though I was only gone for 4 months. I even took leave from school and told them I had work in New York.

After 6 weeks of no responses and a void permit, unable to go to a doctor or seek work if I needed to with the impending threat of having to pay a large tuition at school, I finally got my old permit kicked in again. There was a mistake made in my old kommune.

They still tell me it'll be maybe a year, but I got some forms in the mail that I was able to send to them and I think it's more casual out where I am. Not sure if I'll have to trek to Rysegade or if I can go to the local passport (police) agency here.

Sorry you asked? The list is much, much, MUCH greater and would require it's own blog devoted to Danish immigration bureaucracy. Hmm..gives me an idea. Maybe we should make a group blog documenting people's horror stories relating to the topic.

Anonym sagde ...

You're lucky you spent so little time in Croydon, compared to me. I have to work there every day! ;)

M sagde ...

My horror story is admittedly not so bad but hope it helps:

After arriving last August I found that my residence permit issued by the Danish Consulate in NY, which should have been valid until Jun 2007, said I was allowed to stay in the country until Feb 1 2006(!).

I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to travel for fear of not being allowed back in, which I now know was kind of ridiculous, at least regarding travel in the EU.

So, after waiting in line for the relatively short duration of 3 hrs at the embassy and bitching and moaning a bit, the year was changed on the permit but not the month, although I was assured my case worker would be contacting me within two weeks. That was 3 months ago. I hope she contacts me soon.

And, to answer your question, Nick Drake is an English singer/songwriter who made some brilliant albums in the 70s. I highly recommend checking him out.

Devil Mood sagde ...

As you can imagine, or should I say, as you KNOW, here in Portugal the stories are endless. The last time something really stupid happened to me was when I had to re-do my i.d. card. I waited, obviously, for about 2 hours in lines (it is getting better though) and I did the paperwork. A few days later I got a letter asking me to go back there because there'd been an accident with the document...my fingerprint had been smudged by the worker, so I had to go there on purpose to do it again!!! :PPP
Don't you love Portugal? :)
By the way, are you going to California soon?

Simple American sagde ...

I hate lines and bureaucracies. I'm trying to forget my horror stories.

erin sagde ...

When I started working for the government I was always surprised at how surprised people were when they found out that real people answer the phones.

I was also surprised at how much red tape and how many weeks it took to get letters that I wrote to people approved, signed and sent out. The worst case was that I wrote an apology letter to a woman on behalf of the government and it took two weeks to get it approved in our office and then after I couriered it to Ottawa to be signed by the minister, I didn't see it again for six weeks. By the time I was able to send it out to her, she had passed away and I had to write a brand new "we're sorry to hear that your relative died" letter and go through the whole process again...

I can see why people think we're underworked and overpaid, even though the opposite is more true.

Fitèna sagde ...

My bureaucracy stories are not solely related to travelling.
Story #1: My friend moved and had to wait one month before the phone company came over to fix her internet connection. And the island counts 1.2 million inhabitants.
Story #2: I asked a relative who is in Canada how long it took for her request for immigration was approved. 3 years came the reply. And that's because she got lucky she said.
Story #3 and my favourite: Its been 4 years since my father is waiting to be granted a visa to perform pilgrimage in saudi arabia.
Fun, isn't it!


Vanessa sagde ...

These stories are all very discouraging.
My cousin and I are traveling to Europe (Germany and France) at the end of February. Her passport has expired, and since her last passport was issued her last name has changed. I hope everything goes through quickly.

DayByDay4-2Day sagde ...

I've really never done anything like that.

Marion sagde ...

The French were the worst - really rude and unhelpful.
The Italians were just a bit unorganised. Everything closed down between 1 and 4 pm: siesta time.
The English are okay, though it requires some stamina to get paid for work (or is it just academia?).
But then, I'm German, so nothing can shock me when it comes to bureaucracy. ;-)

Vesper sagde ...

my new blog:

Anonym sagde ...

I remember the INEM in Spain where they said I could not collect my dole money as a Belgian living there.

I reminded them of the European Union (and how we can work/live wherever we want within the union) but the guy didn't budge.

I then wrote a letter to his director explaining the situation. The guy got fired (I met him again months later) and after THREE months I got my dole money, right before I started my job.

kimananda sagde ...

Mr. Heartburn, your stories sound much more scary than mine...and you shouldn't need to trek to Rysedade...that's just for those in the greater Copenhagen area.

DBA, I was waiting for someone to comment on the Croyden reference. It wasn't so bad, Croyden. I had plans to see, is it a church? Some landmark that I had been recommended to see...but after that much time waiting, I was too tired to do any sightseeing.

M, your story is really scary. Luckily, when I have been done waiting, I've never had any other problems. I'd have been totally paranoid in your situation. Then there's my school colleague who went in to get his students visa, and they put in someone else's visa by mistake. :-o

Ms. Mood, yep, Portuguese bureaucracy. It helped when the Loja de Cidadao opened, though. And I'm in California now!

Mr. American, I'd forget my horror stories, but then I'd have nothing to blog about. ;-)

Erin, yikes, that is unbelievable. But somehow logical, if you consider how bureaucracy works.

Fitena, 4 years to get a permit to be a pilgrim? Wow, that's a long time!

Vanessa, don't worry...my experience with US passports is that they are issued fairly efficiently.

Day, you're lucky!

Marion, yep, the English were actually o.k. for me, too...a long time to wait in line, but otherwise, permits and things were issued amazingly quickly.

And, the obligatory sea monkey reference...they were waiting for me when I got to my Mom's house yesterday. But is that tiny package of food really enough to last for a year?

Vesper, nice new site!

Kunstem..., I've heard of some Danes in this situation as well. I've been told that is because the dole rate is higher in Northern Europe, so the other countries hope that you'll just leave so they don't have to pay it. Which doesn't make it any easier for the person trying to live with no income.