You EU citizens have no idea how easy you have it to move around.

I'm going to switch planes in the US on my way to Mexico for Christmas, so I had to renew my American visa.  The amount of papers required is astonishing, as not only do you have to fill 3 different forms, but they also ask for bank statements, pay slips, letters from your workplace, a copy of your contract, and some other things.  You also have to e.g. detail what do you do at work, who is in your family and list the countries you have visited in the last ten years with the years when you have been there.

I ended up with a file that measured a couple of centimetres, which could almost mean that now Uncle Sam knows more about me than my wife and my mother, and it truly shows how afraid they are of illegal immigrants and terrorists.  Went to the interview and a few days later received my visa, so all's well that ends well.  I understand that being Mexican in their view increases the chances of me overstaying my welcome, but I really have no intention nor motive for doing so.  Frankly, the least I go there, the better, which is a pity as I would like to visit New York and Boston again, for example.  Comparing this with the UK IRIS scheme, which took me ten minutes to get enrolled in the last time I was in London, shows the difference between tough talk accompanied with cumbersome procedures and an implementation of border control that combines security with business friendliness.

This whole ordeal made me wonder (again) about this whole Finnish citizenship story, since Finns don't need a visa for short trips to the United States.  Called the guys at ulkomaalaisvirasto since according to their new web questionnaire I would fulfill the requirements for citizenship, as I have lived here long enough (pretty much all of my adult life), speak Finnish fluently (still waiting for my diploma on that one), and have no criminal record.  However, they told me that I can't get it since I have lived abroad in the past two years, meaning that if I hadn't gone to Belgium I could be a Finn.  The law was changed this autumn, so I had no way of knowing, and there is another catch: all male Finnish citizens under 30 have to serve in the army.  If I were 18 I wouldn't mind doing that, and furthermore if push came to shove I would probably volunteer anyway, but currently I'm at a stage of my life where putting everything (family, career, finances) on hold for six months to a year is not an option.

We'll see what happens, but it's definitely getting interesting.

Edit: And, oh boy, in March I have to renew my Finnish residence permit.  Ugh….

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One thought on “Bureaucracy”

  1. I guess I'll write ulkomaalaisvirasto an email some day about this.

    I mean… How incredibly blind can people be for not accepting a fluently Finnish speaking higher-level Nokia worker as a citizen? Ah… The stupidity of most ministries in Finland is just something that I find really hard to live with. All the time they're making more and more babysitting-like decicions in different policies (the alcohol policies are a good example) while wasting time and awfully lot of tax payers' money.
    Are these people going to open their eyes before too many good, hardworking people have moved somewhere else? I hope so…

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