Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Imagine no ......immigration rules


Imagine there’s no need for visas. Imagine people from every country could travel and work wherever they wanted to.


I first became aware of the whole immigration and visa issue when I left England to become a diving instructor. I did my Instructor’s course in Singapore, but when I entered and my passport was stamped, I was only allowed to stay in the country for 3 months, and was not allowed to work. Usually I would take no notice of passport stamps as I was always travelling for pleasure or business and never stayed anywhere longer than a few days or a week or two at most. Suddenly it wasn’t very nice to be told I couldn’t stay somewhere. The same thing happened in Thailand. I couldn’t work legally and if I stayed I would have to take the long bus journey to Burma every few months and return, or I would be deported. The same thing happened in Borneo. It really was very strange for me, as with a British passport I thought I could go anywhere I wanted to and work wherever I wanted to. I thought it was only people from really poor countries who could not travel to rich ones.


I didn't realise that almost no matter where you live, if not your home country, you need permission to live there. In the Dominican Republic I am a resident. It was not that hard to obtain, involving lots of running around obtaining documents, translating them, having medicals, getting police reports and paying US$1,000. It has to be renewed every two years, and currently there is talk of a new law which will make it more difficult and more expensive to obtain. I went to renew my residency this week to be told my photograph has mysteriously disappeared from the system, so next week I have to go to the capital, Santo Domingo to have my photo taken and renew my residency. Hopefully I will find out about the new rules there.


It was a shock to me to realise that my Dominican husband couldn’t leave the country without a visa, apart from to a very few places. At least I can travel, although I need visas to stay or work. He couldn’t travel to the USA, to England nor to Europe. I had no idea that there were such restrictions for a country like the Dominican Republic. In the end he obtained a visitors visa for the UK and for the USA, but if ever we decide to go and live in my country, the UK, it will be very difficult for him to get a visa to settle there with me. He will have to pass an English examination, and we will have to have plenty of money in the bank, or I will need to have a good job. The cost of the visa and the English exam is over 1000 pounds or around US$2000, which is non refundable even if it is denied. There is a lot of work involved in getting the mountain of paperwork together for the application, followed by the stress of waiting to see if it has been granted or not. People who don’t know you at all sitting and looking at papers deciding where you will be allowed to live, or, in some cases, if you will be allowed to live together at all, even if you are married.


And visas don’t last for ever. They take no account of emergencies.  My dad died suddenly and my husband’s visa had expired so he couldn’t come with me to the funeral. That was awful.
All over the world loved ones are separated or stuck on different continents, not able to see each other. All over the world people want to travel but are not allowed to. All over the world people are trying to save up to apply for a visa, or trying to make sure they meet the requirements, and for many it is and always will be impossible.



Imagine if there were no visas!  I know people say that all those in third world countries would go to first world ones, but many first world people want to live in less developed countries, just like I want to live in the DR.  You may say I’m only dreaming ……..but it’s a nice dream!

26 comments:

  1. my husband got visa quite easily and now has his residency is it harder coz the rules have changed?

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    1. Depends on the country! Rules have changed for the UK - now they need to pass an English test, no third party is allowed to sponsor it has to be husband and wife only, and minimum income is around 19,000 pounds a year or savings of over 60,000 pounds. Rules are currently changing for expats in the DR too - we just don't know what they are yet!

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  2. I have that dream to. I don't get the need of it, if the world really belongs to ALL of us. We should be able to freely move or travel to wherever we like. It's a nice dream :)

    Saludos

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  3. You beat me to it this time Lindsay. I have a draft of a post on immigration that I'm working on now. Currently we have been dealing with 4 countries to get visas to be together. It's insane! What happened to one world?

    I wrote this post over a year ago on the same topic: http://amorysabor.com/2011/01/immigration-law-dividing-families/

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    1. I know Eliza I was thinking of you, and a friend of mine who is in USA and her English partner is no longer allowed there as they say he has been there too often so they are apart. It is not just poor people from poor countries. All over the world people are being kept apart.

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  4. I love your dream
    but...
    I think the world would be chaotic
    People fleeing their countries by the bus loads
    to get to where ever the grass seems to be greener
    A better dream would maybe be an easier set of rules,not almost impossible ones
    Manu

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  5. Nice dream. Try the hundreds of visas in Australia...the rules are really mind boggling.
    How weird that a husband would be denied a visa to live in his wife´s country. They should make sure the marriage is stable and not just a sham, but then he should be allowed in! I often wonder about the decision makers, how do they decide who is allowed in or not? There should be a system of interviews, where you could put forward your reasons or merits to go to a certain country.

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    1. Agreed Sami, but they don't tend to interview for a UK Visa,the most important is that the marriage is not a sham, the non British spouse speaks English and you both have enough money to live on without recourse to public funds for 2 years.

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  6. Es un buen ideal, pero llevarlo a la realidad no es tan facil, las personas somos muy complejas en nuestras relaciones, y muchas veces no nos gustan los demas ni su cultura. y eso complica todo.

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    1. Si eso es ideal pero yo se no va a pasar.

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  7. Miguel,
    If you're able to understand the posts which are written in English, why do you only answer in Spanish? I can appreciate the language, but when a conversation is going, and my Spanish is poor, I find it a put-off that you only respond on here in English. thanks.

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    1. Many people can read another language but find it harder to write in it. I should translate for them, so that everyone can read the comments in English. I will do in the future as you make a good point Brien.

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    2. maybe if I write in English I can make mistakes but, as she is writing about Dominican Republic, and she is living here I think she can understand Spanish, and most of the time I respond to her directly, and i am not interesting in other to understand what I respond, sorry. is just for her, you can skip my comment or use google translator, is very easy

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    3. Miguel your English is excellent! Many people like to read the comments, but I have no problem if you want to write to me in Spanish and I can translate for those who want to know what you say, which is always valuable.

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    4. thank you Lindsay you are so sweet

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  8. I finally finished my post on immigration: http://amorysabor.com/2012/07/with-liberty-and-justice-for-all/

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  9. aaaagh - I hate borders and nations, we should all be allowed to live and work wherever we want providing we abide by the laws of the place we have chosen and pay the appropriate taxes there. For the next 5 to 6 months Mikey and I will be separated becasue if immigration bullshit.

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    1. I know and I was thinking of you when I wrote this. People think illegal immigrant and think poor people going to rich countries when it often is just jobs worth immigration officers stopping people being together. Hope the time passes quickly for you.

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  10. Well I'm glad I'm the only one that feels this way, but of course 99% of people in this world cannot think outside the box when it comes to this and can't even fathom such a world where everyone could just live wherever they felt like like the human beings we are...We should all just be citizens of the world. Of course we would all still root for and identify ourselves with our immediate environment. Unfortunately we human beings are too selfish and we don't want others to have the same opportunities we have had...so this will remain as a nice idea.

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    1. I know is just a nice idea, but I never really thought about it until I came here and married a Dominican. If he can't go anywhere then I don't either so we are both trapped! And getting visas is sooo expensive!

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  11. You think that the UK is tough on family reunification? Bah! Try Denmark (my husband's homeland). It is possibly the hardest Western country to immigrate to, on top of that while speaking English is very common Denmark is a "minority" language (only 5 million Danes), so there isn't that much of an incentive to learn it.

    If we were ever to leave the country we both agree that Denmark is not in our list. We refuse to put up with that kind of crap (check this expat newspaper for an idea: http://www.cphpost.dk/news/making-cut-immigration-dk). Immigration laws were relaxed under the new more leftist government, but they are still insane.

    Anyway, I am lucky I never had any trouble going where I wanted, but unfortunately a world without borders is never going to exist. Even the day (if ever) humans are all equally rich -or poor- we will find reasons to dislike each other.

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    1. It's a shame Clara.Mind you I don't think Denmark would be top of my list either. Lucky you going anywhere you wanted, I could too, but I couldn't work where I wanted to.

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    2. Oh, I am not going to work anywhere, I would not be allowed either, though I also pay taxes to a country that gives me absolutely nothing in return (no, not the DR).

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  12. Sorry, it should read "Danish is a minority language".

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