On a regular basis, Switzerland comes up with new ways to try to kick me out of the country. You may recall that most of Western Europe only allows visitors to stay here for up to 90 days in a 180 day time period, so I was only gonna be able to live here for 3 months before having to return to the US. The latest plan was that Florian and I would marry here, then I’d have to stay in the US for about 8 weeks while I apply for my family reunion visa to come back. Attempt to kick me out #1 was successful since I’ve already bought a plane ticket to NY for October.
But for our plan to work and for us to get married here, the Swiss require massive amounts of paperwork, ranging from: 1) a birth certificate. But don’t be fooled, you can’t actually give them your original birth certificate or a copy of your original birth certificate. You must order a confirmation of all of the information that is on your original birth certificate, but it must be dated within the last 6 months. And it must be translated to German. 2) proof that I’m not already married. Fair enough, except no document exists saying that I have not filed for a marriage license previously, so I just have to give my word I’m not married. And I had to visit and pay the armored US Consulate to have them officially notarize that I actually said I’m not married, because my word by itself isn’t enough.
So, ok Switzerland, you win, we’ll play by your silly rules. We did all of that bureaucratic rigmarole and filed our paperwork last week. The lady said everything looked good and approval should be no probem. Whew!
Fast Forward to Friday morning during German class when I get a text from Florian that says “Call me ASAP”. Gulp. Turns out, my visa’s 180 day timeperiod started in March when I came for a visit to Switzerland, and I’m being kicked out of the country at the end of this month. As in, a week and a half from now!!!!!!
Let’s pause the story here to appreciate the contraditctions of Swiss immigration policy. The Swiss are very concerned about the safety of political refugees worldwide so any poor person who is lazy, doesn’t plan to work, will likely sell drugs, and is possibly a murderer or a rapist are welcomed here with open arms for their “political asylum”. Not only are they allowed to stay here and get visas, but the government actually gives them free housing and pays them (a pretty hefty amount!) to stay here. So, for a nice American girl who wants to work hard, pay taxes, not break the law, and learn the local language, she should be kicked out. For those who mooch off the giverment and commit crimes, by all means please enter. So here comes the contradiction and irony: My visa paperwork is being held up while I wait 8 weeks for the FBI report that says I’ve never committed a crime. Because as an American if I commit a crime, I’m just a criminal. If I were Yugoslavia and committed a crime, I’d be paid to come to Switzerland. Makes me wonder…
So back to how Florian The Genius saved the day figured out how to say “Damn the Man” to the Swiss authorities. While I can’t stay in Western Europe, much of Eastern Europe doesn’t have the same visa rules. There’s a loophole where I can go to Eastern Europe for one minute, have my passport stamped, and then return for another 90 days to Switzyland. Take that, authorities! Florian and I now plan to have a lovely, romantic “pre-honeymoon” 16 hour drive there and back to Croatia where we will cross the border, demand a passport stamp, and turn around.
On the bright side, we keep a world map in our bedroom of white flags (“places we’ve been together”) and green flags (“places we want to go together”). While Croatia was not previously listed in the former or latter categories, we’re excited to add 3 new white flags because we have to drive through Italy and Slovenia to get to Croatia!