I have been physically separated from my laptop for longer than a month because it was holiday time, so no nursery for my boys, and it was summer time, so the perfect excuse to postpone ones own ambitions and interests in the pursue of quality time together as a family. My in-laws visited from Bolivia and we had a lovely time together. It sounds nice and simple, but it wasn’t. The visit was, but the process to get them here wasn’t.
The problem is: my in-laws are completely and utterly, fully Bolivian.. meaning that is the only passport they have, unlike me (I have dual nationality, and therefore two different passports). So they have to ask for a visa to come and visit us in the UK, fair enough, I think it is a good thing, people should require a visa to visit Bolivia too, it makes sense to keep track of who is coming in and out of your sovereign territory. They spend around 300£ in all the paperwork necessary, like translated birth certificates, and marriage certificates, and bank statements, and documents showing their ownership of properties, plus documents explaining their complete income and so forth. Lot’s of paperwork all translated by an officially appointed translator who charged 15£ per page. They had to travel to a different city for the appointments and had to have the tickets to the UK bought even though they weren’t guaranteed the visa, because it helps if they can actually see that you have a return ticket even if you don’t get to actually go to the UK.
None of this was new to us, we have had to apply for this kind of thing for my hubby different times before he and I started residing in the UK, and before that, every time any Bolivian family member wanted to visit someone in Holland.
The first time I realized there are good passports and bad passports was the only time I traveled to The Netherlands through the US. This was prior to 9/11. I, traveling as a Dutch was allowed to go out of the airport if I wanted, but my dad (Bolivian) was escorted to a holding room, where he was allowed to stay until our flight to the Netherlands departed, 9 hours later. I refused to separate from him, and as I was a minor, they let us both into the room. After 3 or four hours it became evident that water and sneakers would not suffice for the young Dutch girl, so in an effort to be nice to me, escort was arranged for us to go eat something together.
My dad had in the past refused a Dutch passport, when offered one during his university years. He studied in a Dutch city called Tilburg, there he was part of student movements and worked with refugees and my mum -who had just finished studying journalism- interviewed him, that’s how they met. He refused it because he was proud of where he came from. Years later he told me it had been silly and naive to have done that, as much as we love being Bolivian, it doesn’t open any doors for you, he said to me once, and it can actually make things more difficult. This was once when I refused to travel with my red (Dutch) passport because it shouldn’t matter where you come from! (I was a child)
More recently, namely yesterday, I have been faced with the ugliness of this subject once more, as, after 5 months of being without passports because a renewal of my husband’s residence was due, we received the paperwork back with a letter explaining the application wasn’t successful. It states in the next line that he doesn’t need to leave the country. So.. is he a resident? is he not? I called the number on the letter to ask advice on what we needed to do next, as my children and I all have the right to be here, we have the good kind of passports (Dutch), and he has been the provider ever since we became a family!
I was explained politely that I should probably seek legal advice, but that the number I had called was for the enforcement of repatriation.. Which was probably unlikely for us, as he is actually entitled to be in the UK due to his marriage to me, the Dutch.