Choose Your Own Adventure: The Immigration Office

galahad_grail

As you may have heard, the immigration office in any country is not the most forgiving place. In fact, I’ve often thought of it as less of a destination and more of an adventure. And like all good adventures, there’s a hero, a quest, and the impending doom of being scowled at by a dragon behind a desk. That’s why I’ve taken it upon myself to write my very own “Choose Your Own Adventure” for the Ausländerbehörde in Germany (with limited coding knowledge). Enjoy!


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You enter the building. Immediately in front of you is a line of people trying to get an appointment. You:
Stand in line with the rest of them
Go home
Attempt to cut in line
Realize you made an appointment online

waiting_line_to_jolla_love_room_with_marc_-_klausk


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You wait with the rest. Your slowly decaying corpse is found months later, paperwork still clutched in its hands. Start over.

 


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You leave the building thinking to yourself, “HA! I’m an expat who doesn’t speak German! Nothing bad will happen to me!” You are deported two weeks later. Start over.

 


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You tap someone on the shoulder and step in front of them as they turn around. They do not appear to notice/care that you cut, but the German desk clerk notices and waits until you are at the desk to send you to the back of the line– cutting ist nicht im Ordnung.

 


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You recall that you made an appointment online. Good thing, too- waiting in line looked dicey! Heck, you’re even early! As you approach the waiting room, you notice a strange machine on the wall- kind of like and ATM or cigarette machine. You:
Investigate the machine
Ignore the machine

question-mark-1019820_960_720


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Upon closer inspection, you notice that the machine is only accepting cash. You take a look in your wallet and realize you don’t have any cash. You use the time you saved by arriving early to go to an ATM and withdraw cash before returning to the waiting room.

 


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You sit in the waiting room. Ahead of you is a TV with the current queue of people ahead of you. After waiting 20 minutes past your appointment, you:
Go to ask the desk if it will be much longer
Decide to sit and wait longer
Decide to leave

ccbrt_disability_hospital_waiting_room_1_10679012155

 


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The clerk stares at you. They ask you if you have any idea what you are doing. You:
Arrogantly demand that they treat you with respect
Inform them that you have the necessary paperwork
Decide to leave

don-draper-shrug

 


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How DARE THEY treat you like dirt? You let it out- “I AM A PERSON! I DEMAND TO BE TREATED LIKE A GUEST IN YOUR COUNTRY! YOU SHOULD BE COUNTING YOUR LUCKY STARS I EVEN CAME HERE!” The clerk stares at you. They roll their eyes and ignore you (Germany’s doing juuuuust fine without you). You:
Return to the waiting room
Storm out

 


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Politely, you pull out your email confirming the appointment. You have discovered the Ausländerbehörde’s biggest weakness- paperwork! The clerk has no choice but to usher you into another office where another clerk waits. The clerk asks you to present your documentation. You:
Pull out the exact forms that are needed
Take out scraps of paper in a folder
Pull two binders of documents out of your bag

paperwork_-_by_tom_ventura


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The clerk mulls over your forms. It LOOKS as if it is in Ordnung. But does it FEEL like it is in Ordnung? The clerk begins to question you on a variety of seemingly pointless things. How long do you plan on staying? Do you have a visa already? Where is your bank information? Are you a Christian? After a while it gets tedious. You:
Grow tired of their constant questioning
Answer their questions to the best of your ability
Inform them you have brought your German friend with you and they will answer your questions

 


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The clerk takes one look at your case and is flummoxed. Rather than deal with the overwhelming amount of proof you have provided, the rest of the appointment goes smoothly as they ultimately give you your visa. Congratulations! All that’s left is to pay. They provide a card for you to load money on at the machine. The inform you that it only takes cash at the moment. You:
Tell them you only brought your card since this is 2016 and no one carries €100 cash on a whim
Go to pay at the machine with cash since you noticed the sign before

 


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The clerk grows tired of your answers. They notice that you have not provided some form which proves that you are financially covered to stay within their country without taking advantage of the system that German citizens have built over dozens of years. They inform you that you need to make another appointment within the next few months to review the case again. You:
Accept that you should have been more prepared and leave
Grow furious that they are not willing to accept your poorly structured case

1024px-schengenvisum-specimen


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You pay at the machine with cash. Good thing you noticed that before! You return to the clerk and are presented with a shiny new visa in your passport that covers two freakin’ pages. Welcome to Germany! Get ready to do this again next year! Start over.


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5 thoughts on “Choose Your Own Adventure: The Immigration Office

  1. Chris Pyak says:

    Thank you for this funny – but realistic – adventure! 🙂 In Düsseldorf we try to make things easier for expats and immigrants.

    Thanks to an initiative that started with a meeting in my living room, our city administration is now learning to speak English with foreigners. This happened only because of the strong support by the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and especially Ms. Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann!

    http://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.immigrantspirit.com%2Fduesseldorf-speaks-english%2F&h=QAQHL1z_V

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Simon says:

    Its rather insulting and quite untrue , You should try other immigration offices around the world , The Germans are very professional and in the last few years with the influx of refugees are having to deal with more work but are doing a great job, I take my hat off to the the people of the immigration who I have dealt with on numerous occasions over many years .

    Like

    • Hi Simon, thanks for your comment! I think the immigration process anywhere is not fun. I also think that the person seeking a visa needs to understand that culture clashes are a natural part of living elsewhere- which is why it’s better to laugh at these clashes than get upset.

      In any case, I agree with your feedback that it had more of an anti-German feel than I originally intended. I made some edits which hopefully reflect the original sentiment- while living abroad is hard, laughing it off makes it easier!

      Like

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