immigration and other absurd things

Absurdsity I’ve come across recently:

On one embassy’s website, it says you can call us during a one-hour time period, every weekday. BUT we advise you not to call at all, as you won’t get through (i.e. we have no intention of picking up the phone). It also says that they prefer inquiries in writing, specifically by e-mail, which apparently they have no intention of answering either. Their version of a response: copy/paste of information that doesn’t fully answer the question, followed by a link to their website for further questions. Helpful.

Filling out forms for the unborn. This seems necessary right now but probably only to me. 

Taking pictures of a baby for a passport. I can just imagine a customs officer trying to tell you that you are carrying a different baby than the one in the picture.

Documenting precise periods of physical presence in my home country. I really wasn’t trying to go down nostalgia lane this year. Now I have about 8 years of agendas/journals laying on the floor.

No hyphenated last names for children in Germany. I remember reading this before but at this point in time it is quite annoying, intrusive and upsetting. A German couple who’d given their child a hyphenated last name in Denmark appealed to the European court, who ruled that they had no jurisdiction over the decision since the German Amtsgericht was not exercising a judicial function. Basically in Germany their child had no last name because the Standesamt refused to recognize the hyphen. More on the Grunkin-Paul case.

Getting copies of your police file for every country you have lived in for more than 6 months. For Germany this is relatively easy and timely. I’ve done this before for restaurant work. For France, this seems like it should be easy and therefore is probably not. For the US, this involves the FBI which makes me uneasy. And fingerprinting… which sure isn’t cheap. Good thing I’ve never lived in Afghanistan.

At the airport, pregnant women go through the metal detector. At the embassy, they do not. Hmm…

At the conference, one woman recounted being fully undressed during a security check while traveling to Norway, due to her country of origin and a suspicion of danger. She wondered what else would have happened if she didn’t have a personal invitation from Bundespräsident Köhler and from the conference center on her person. Earlier at breakfast, there were three of us, representing the US, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of Congo trading stories of being inappropriately handled in the name of security. As you may not know, we are always hiding weapons of mass destruction in our hair. Absurd.



  1. Lee said,

    Tuesday 19 December 2006 at 2:15 pm

    I am already dreading a lot of that paperwork. I just KNOW it’s going to be problematic.

  2. sattva said,

    Tuesday 19 December 2006 at 6:39 pm

    It’s a bit insane. Good news though the US part doesn’t seem all that complicated so far and supposedly it only takes a couple of weeks. It’s the CAN forms that have been killing me 😦 I’ve given up for now…

  3. Denis Bongo-Mavoungou said,

    Wednesday 20 December 2006 at 3:16 pm

    weirdly enough the only place where my hair was searched is addis.

    and.. it’s funny how in african countries you tend to spend more time leaving them than at entry.

  4. sattva said,

    Wednesday 20 December 2006 at 5:39 pm

    i’d really like to know what has actually been found by searching someone’s hair… weave tracks? lice? traces of polonium?

    guess you had to get fingerprinted as well? 🙂 always fun…

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