Stop Inburgering Me!

Kaatstraat
(the building where I had to go for my appointment on Monday)

A couple of weeks ago, I got a folder in the mail from the Gemeente Utrecht (city offices sort of thing). That’s rarely a good thing anywhere, so I was apprehensive opening it. Sure enough, there was a letter telling me I was invited to begin the inburgering program (Dutch integration program) with an appointment at 10:15 on 5 January.

At first glance, you might not think that’s such a big deal. In fact, it might seem like a good thing — but it’s not. It’s an intensive, expensive program culminating in six 1-hour exams or more, with questions covering more than just history and politics. I’ve heard of questions involving discussion of how to build a shed, along with topics about childbirth, as well. Not to mention various other requirements involving reports or role-playing that are too convoluted to go into here.

Needless to say, I didn’t want to do this program. I also was under the impression that I did not have to do it, because of G being an EU citizen and the fact that I was admitted into the country as his partner. Of course, tracking down official information is not so easy. Ultimately, though, I read enough to make me pretty positive that under EU law, as a partner of an EU citizen, I was covered under the freedom of movement law, making me exempt from the inburgering program.

Despite being fairly positive, I was still a bit nervous this morning when it came time to head off for my interview. All the worrying was in vain, as it has always been when it comes to anything regarding immigration here. Everyone is always very friendly, kind and helpful, and the woman I met with didn’t seem to have any issue when I said that I didn’t think I was required to do the program. She looked at my residence card — which says essentially that I have the same rights as an EU citizen — and that was that. She made a copy of my card and passport, just for the records, and explained that they generally send the letter out to everyone who isn’t an EU citizen themselves, but that I wasn’t their target. As long as G and I don’t break up, I don’t have to do the program.

Ultimately, if I wanted to become a Dutch citizen, I’d have to at least pass some sort of exam, although the program isn’t actually mandatory. As it stands, after five years, I will have almost all of the benefits of being a Dutch citizen, without actually having to become one, per the IND (immigration) officer I met with when we first moved.

So, I didn’t have to use any of my examples to show that I’m trying to assimilate and integrate already. I didn’t have to explain how we came in fourth — out of eight teams — at the Christmas Eve Quiz, beating at least eight other actual Dutch people. I didn’t have to explain how we’d taken part in Sinterklaas this year and even written poems (even if they were in English). I didn’t have to give my scores at sjoelen. I didn’t even have to pull out my ace and sing along to Utrecht Mijn Stad!

Utereg het mooist van allemaal!

… Is Ingewilligd.

… is granted.

Those were the important words I was looking for just now when I saw that a letter had arrived for me from IND (immigration). My request for legal residency here has been granted. Yay! I still have to go get the stamp/document, but that will come at some date in the future. They’ll send me another letter with the date and time for me to go pick up the stuff. (I’m guessing that horrid picture of me that had to be submitted with my application will be used on my ID document. *shudder*)

Also, I can’t tell you how happy I am to be living in an age when I can go online to the Google translation page and type in the information to be translated and have an immediate (although literal) translation. I got the gist of the letter. The letter, of course, was in Dutch and my Dutch isn’t up to it, especially when you consider the super long words they create by combining words. Gemeenschapsonderdaan, for example. It roughly translates to Community citizen. Of course, even Google couldn’t handle Tewerkstellingsvergunning, but as it’s not required, I’m not worried about it.

So, this means in five years I can apply for citizenship if I want. Let’s see who and how the next president of the US is. 😉

Legal Immigrant

We had our appointment in Hoofddorp today to visit IND, the immigration offices. We took the train up, since it’s close to Amsterdam (only one or two stops after the Schipol stop), and ended up being about an hour early for our appointment. Ah, the joys of having to follow a train schedule. Not to mention, the building truly is right outside the train station. There’s absolutely no missing it.

After having a saulcijzbroodje (basically a sausage pasty that was quite nice) from the little shop at the station, we headed in to the building to await our turn. The building was pleasant and clean and comfortable, so the wait wasn’t that bad. We even saw the man we’d seen at the Utrecht office who had explained everything to us. He had mentioned that he worked in the Amsterdam office and was just filling in that day in Utrecht. And for whatever reason, they don’t do the stamps we needed in Utrecht, thus our trip to Hoofddorp.

The woman we met with was pleasant as everyone else has been and the whole process was painless and simple. Giovanni got his stamp put into his passport, and thus made it possible for me to then apply. I also got a stamp in my passport that is good for six months. Sometime in the next six months, my application for residency should most likely be approved (there’s no real reason why it shouldn’t be) and then I will have to go back to get my official residency permit. But I’m still legal for now.

We might celebrate tonight with some herring and onions.