Underthecurrent


pending
January 26, 2017, 1:20 am
Filed under: runaway, voyageur

The agony and ecstasy of attempting to legally live in other places.

When starting travelling, it seems easy.  Arrive somewhere and stay.  Work, maybe under the table, maybe with some visa cobbled together.  Advice to navigate passed along, anecdotes about consequences shared.  It was almost all a dare, roulette, an experiment.  Failure meant packing a bag and trying not to be detained for overstaying, maybe a black mark in a passport.

*

The first document arrives – an address is wrong.  This wouldn’t be a big deal except we know someone for whom the wrong address led to months of delays and an attempt to cancel the application completely.  Eventually, a portal opens and a change can be registered online… which takes effect in fifteen days.  Fifteen days in the digital age, amazing.

The first round went unexpectedly quickly – a year was suddenly four months and everything was thrown forward.  The next step seemed accessible until the rules all changed.  Now, again, it’s hurry and wait.

*

Every document has a price tag and an inconvenience.  The police checks, health clearances, unabridged everything.  In three months, the documents change, in six many start to expire.  Luckily, the kind lady at the station did a few sets of finger prints.  And then? There are no instructions available what should be done with this painstakingly gathered, increasingly valuable package.  Submit in person, thousands of kilometers away, or via tracked mail and prayers?

Message boards warn about more than a year, about unanswered calls and questions.  Some hint about legal applications to force decisions.

What if it doesn’t work out? If it wasn’t a serious plan it wouldn’t be worth the trouble or cost.  But what if it doesn’t work out?

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