white american gets german visa

Now there’s breaking news.  (Cough.)  Look, people who come from countries that aren’t wealthy, who maybe aren’t a shade of Swiss cheese, who might actually need to get into Germany to save their fucking lives often have a hard time getting visas.  They sometimes get deported.

I am an American, and my skin is the color of Swiss cheese.  I  have married a German and have produced a Swiss-cheese-colored baby for the shrinking German population.  (Jawohl!)  I can prove that I have a job and insurance and stability and a place to live.  But what about the people who cannot prove these things?  What about the people for whom staying here is the difference between having a chance at a fairly normal life and being shot or bombed or oppressed or or or?  I don’t know where the immigrations people draw the line (are they more surly if you can’t speak German or if you can’t prove you have insurance, a job, and a rental contract?), but there are lines being drawn.  I doubt anyone is being given an armband and sent away solely because of the color of their skin, but I do know that the people being sent away are largely people whose skin more closely resembles hazelnuts than cheese.

According to this article, Germany deports 50,000 immigrants annually.  And before they deport them, they put them in special little deportation jails.  Ick.

Today, any foreigner residing in Germany without legal immigration status can be arrested and placed in detention pending deportation. This includes refugees who are refused asylum, civil war refugees whose right to remain has not been extended, and immigrants in the broadest sense, who either entered Germany without a valid visa or whose residence permit has expired.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, the law has allowed the detention of such people, in order to procure passports or travel documents before deporting them. Those affected are in a desperate situation lacking any recourse. The reason for their arrest is not any criminal offence they have committed, but restrictive German laws that turn them into “illegal immigrants.” Moreover, deportation detention can drag on for up to 18 months. …

According to the Initiative, over 50,000 migrants and asylum-seekers are deported from Germany each year, most of them by plane. Each day, 130 to 140 are returned to the conditions from which they fled—civil war, political persecution, dire economic hardship and regimes that suppress ethnic minorities and women.

Deportees are frequently accompanied by the paramilitary German Border Police or private security agents, who are prepared to use force. Those who resist are beaten, restrained and injected with drugs. A number have already been killed, but the culprits and the authorities responsible have so far escaped prosecution. The dead and abused refugees and immigrants are consciously accepted as the price of a brutal deportation practice.

Since 1993, 99 people have taken their own lives or died trying to avoid deportation, 45 while in detention.

Knowledge is power.  So what are we going to do about it?  Why are borders so important?  Why is keeping people out more important than keeping people alive?  Dog eat dog, survival of the fittest?  Nope, just an accident of birth.  I was born here and you were born there, so you better stay the fuck on your side of the line in the sand.  You were born into war and I was born into wealth?  Well, I must deserve it.  Or something.  Say it with me now…ICK.

It is a scenario that comes up over and over again in the apocalyptic books that I like reading so much.  And in a life-or-death situation, I can understand turning people away from your group.  If the choice is starving together or surviving a lone asshole, I know my instinct would urge me to survive as an asshole.  But guess what: Germany is not turning people away because if it doesn’t, all the Germans will starve to death.  We are not living in a post-apocalyptic scenario.  Germany is turning people away because it makes sense within this government-controled, border-patroled world.  Sad.

Meanwhile, back in the bubble of white privilege…I applied for what I think of as my “eternal German visa” a few weeks ago, or as the Americans call it, a Green Card.  Once it is approved (the paperwork is floating around in Berlin somewhere as I type) I will be allowed to stay here forever—though to my disappointment I will have to return to renew every time I get a new passport, ie once every ten years.  This is the award for three years of marriage.

I will be allowed to work any job, any time.  (Bet you a dollar that I’m still not going to be allowed on the state health insurance plan though.)  What a relief.  Not that there was ever any serious question of it being denied, which is where my priviledge in this situation lies: All of my visas have been fairly easy to obtain.  First there was a one-year au pairing visa.  Then a three-year English teacher visa.  Then I got married to a German, which gets you a pass for at least three years.  Though after seven years in Germany I could have applied for the same visa independently of the Beard, getting married made everything a lot easier.  Dual citizenship, however, is verboten.  I guess I am as close to being German as I’m ever going to get.

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Wednesday April 03rd 2013, 8:00 am 8 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies,expat life,germany

8 Comments so far. Please leave a comment.

I’ve definitely always felt like I — a white, American, German-speaking academic — have gotten the long end of the stick when dealing with German visa issues. I’ve hardly had any problems at all, and I hope that continues when I apply for a 5-year residency permit this summer (after the requisite 5 years in Deutschland). I wish there wasn’t such prejudice in the whole visa process, but I know it’s there and I hear it in the stories from friends from less “desirable” countries.

Also, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told I should just marry my German partner and make things easy on myself. Gah! Love how it doesn’t even occur to people that NOT being married is also a conscious choice. ;)

Comment by Mandi 04.03.13 @ 12:22 pm

After getting the runaround for years, and several visits to the German consulate in NYC, as well as numerous phone calls, emails, etc. with every answer different from the last, it “seems” at least so far, that getting my residence visa in Bamberg will be easier than thought. Time will tell, but so far, so good. Congratulations on your visa!

Comment by mandy 04.03.13 @ 2:04 pm

This is great and important writing. I don’t understand borders, it makes me so sad. Congratulations on getting your eternal paperwork :) And congratulations for speaking up and writing about the injustice of the situation for so many others.

Comment by Katie 04.03.13 @ 5:14 pm

The situation is pretty much the same here, though the current government are making it worse. These days the attention is less focused on asylum seekers and more on economic migrants from Eastern Europe “coming over here and taking our jobs” – though your average Joe doesn’t seem able to distinguish between the two. People complain about Eastern Europeans working here for low wages, living in cheap, crowded housing and sending all their wage money back to their origin country. So the government is currently doing it’s damnedest to discourage economic migration and pander to the Daily Mail tabloid readers (despite every economic institution out there telling them how much we need these people!). *sigh*

Comment by Radical Ramblings 04.04.13 @ 12:00 am

Mandi: It’s true. Even though I get all nervous about the visa stuff every time that I have to apply, it’s never been likely that I would be denied. People are weird about the marriage thing. I think for me personally making paperwork easier is about the only reason I would have wanted to do it.

Katie: Thanks. Borders are really really sad.

Radical Ramblings: That whole “they are coming here to steal our jobs” is the grossest thing. And people are constantly repeating it. There was a facebook incident recently where this woman I barely knew but had “friended” through a mutual friend was posting all sorts of racist xenophobic shit about just this sort of thing. I think that was the first time I’ve actually unfriended someone.

Comment by nikki/clickclackgorilla 04.04.13 @ 10:56 am

[...] The dreaded visa.  Expats spend almost as much time worrying about their visas as they do deciphering the paperwork to get one.  This week two expats have explored the process on their blogs.  Take your pick: Grounded Traveler or Click Clack Gorilla. [...]

Pingback by The Week in Germany: Bread, Visas, and RobotsYoung Germany | Young Germany 04.22.13 @ 9:01 am

Oh wow – cool you were an au pair as that was my first visa here. I am surprised you can’t get on the state insurance though as I was when I had my job here that unfortunately I don’t have anymore and am thus working on my next job approval that is freiberuflich and thus taking FOREVER. Fingers crossed. Anyway, exciting! And yep, border issues suck but the US ain’t any better. You can’t let everyone in I suppose.

Comment by Alex @ ifs ands & butts 05.08.13 @ 1:36 pm

For us this turned out to be suprisingly simple. As a European citizen I’m considered ‘almost’ German, and my Japanese wife is ‘almost’ the same, so we’re able to do just about anything German citizen can do, and we have full access to healthcare and social security (fortunately, as the soeial security is financing my training for the next two and a half years)

The reason we are here, by the way is partly that in my home country of the UK they are even worse, and there was almost no chance for my lovely wife to stay in the country unless we had a heck of a lot of money. Japan is even worse than the UK, and as for the fun and games we had getting into the US for a college course…

On a global scale, Germany isn’t the worst, but I agree it still stinks that people are deported back to the places where they will be at risk. So what can we do?

Of course this may yet change as the UK is contemplating leaving the EU which means I’ll no longer be a citizen. Not sure what happens then…

Comment by Andy in Germany 05.19.13 @ 10:20 am




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