So, after seven months of waiting, and at times worrying, I received my CPR number (the Danish equivalent to a social security number). This process has been a challenge to both myself and to my family. I wrote the following in the heated moments after having received a confusing letter from immigration. While I am not feeling any of this animosity any longer, I thought it important to share the frustration as well as the fun… It is the honest thing to do.
So I have tried to keep a positive attitude toward the people in the Danish bureaucracy over the course of my move. In the wake of yet another delay, my patience is running rather thin. I went to college in America and was required to complete and pay for “Clapping for Credit” (AKA Music 101), so I understand intimately what costly hoop jumping looks like. I say “intimately” because the purveyors of clapping for credit still have their hands in my pockets to this very day. I know things take time and I know they have a vested interest in making sure I am not a complete piece of shit. I also know things are a pain, in part, because of the desirable nature of the Danish way of life. In the United States, this process can take over a decade, so I should not be upset as we are only seven months in to the process.
But I am upset. We have what is considered to be a “simple case” and it should have been 3 months for the paperwork to be finished. We had our “main approval” months ago, and we are now months in to our “final approval” process, that should have taken just a few weeks to complete.
Last Saturday, we received a new letter telling us what the current delay is in getting me registered and fully approved as a resident of Denmark. This is now the third such letter. Let me take you on a little journey as to this process. I arrived August 5th, I was expecting my final approval in the mail a week or so after I arrived. We called the immigration department several times over the course of the following weeks, having been told that they have everything they need from us. As a measure of the Danish government’s dedication to my assimilating, they are holding on to $10,000 of my money as assurance I won’t turn into a ward of the state. This large deposit is one of the easiest ways to keep out the riffraff of the world, you have to have something just to get in the door (So everyone is clear, while I believe the Danes to be a less racist people than a lot of people, this deposit is a method by which to keep brown people from rushing in unchecked).
Where this deposit was initiated is the root of our main problem. When Susanna moved here, she moved briefly in to her parent’s home which is located within the Hørsholm Kommune. Even though we were moving to the Kommune a few kilometers away, we were advised to make the deposit as soon as possible and the municipal location would be fixed on the back side.
In the process of getting the deposit moved, we were told by the original municipality that the bank screwed up. We talked to the bank, they showed us proof that it was the original kommune that dropped the ball. After finding this out, we called the kommune, the case worker who was working on our file was on vacation. We talked to his boss, after a few days, we received verification that the deposit was up to date and that it had been handled.
We continued to make calls, checking for updates and to see if there was anything else that was needed. They continued to tell us that they had what they needed and all we had to do was wait. Two days after talking to them, I have yet another letter in my hand, saying that while they received verification of the transfer of the deposit, it is still in Hørsholm. Oh yeah, and they don’t have a copy of my current passport. This was something they could have informed me of in August, but alas, it was just too hard to look at the computer screen. I now get to take an additional trip in to the city in order to hand them my passport, something I could have done two months ago.
The funny thing is, there are so many things here that are integrated virtually. It is really a wonder of technology. There is an identification number system called NEM ID (think ADVANCED and SECURE social security number) that links a person’s ability to interface with their own kommune, the state, their bank, their kid’s daycare, and a slew of other useful things. Yet, in all this, they cannot flip a switch and change the municipality, and it would appear that one hand hasn’t a clue as to the actions of the other.
There are costs associated with being here. I cannot work. I cannot start Danish lessons that are provided by the state as a means to integrate in to Danish society. As a result, I am taking private lessons at considerable expense. While I have gotten to take all these adventures I have chronicled here, I am bored most days. Worse still, I am sad. I feel like I don’t make a contribution to much of anything at all. I have taken to playing guitar at the corner bar and the people there are gracious enough to pass a hat and pay for my evening. . . But that doesn’t pay the bills.
I have done my best to essentially avoid expats in my time here. The expat blogs I have read are very negative. In the effort to remain positive, I thought it important that I am not being unduly influenced by other people’s experiences. I want to make friends who aren’t American, at least at first. It’s not that they are Americans per se, it’s that I want to fit in to Denmark. In retrospect, perhaps I should have made contact so that I could have had a more realistic expectation of how things were going to roll. I should really not be a dick, excluding people who could probably make my early days here easier was probably not the best choice.
When all is said and done, I am sure it will all work out. I was worried momentarily about my tourist visa, which is only three months long, expiring before I had my final approval. That may still end up being the case, but I am legally allowed to stay in the country while the proceedings are moving forward. I can’t wait to get started. I am looking forward to being able to afford more than just our apartment.
So yeah, that was that. It is over now. I am here and I am legal. Tune in next week for an interesting story about the integration contract interview I had to go to where no one spoke english . . . Hilarity ensues.
Until next time. . . .