Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tape, red or otherwise
{ Excellent Christmas gift from my Swedish sv√§rmor  |  January 2013 }

Do you know where the phrase "red tape" comes from? Good ol' President Jedidah Bartlett enlightened me (although the Internet tells me the origin dates even further back, but let's go with what The West Wing says): apparently Civil War veterans had to go to D.C. personally to get their pensions after the war. They had to wait for a clerk to look through all the records until their papers were found—and they were bound in red tape.

Not that applying for foreign citizenship is equal at all to fighting a war (although theoretically it means that if there was a draft, I'd have to pledge allegiance to multiple armies), but I've been dealing with quite a bit of red tape, both foreign and domestic.

I mentioned some of the foolishness that was involved with my Italian and Swedish requests before and things are still pretty much just as foolish.

For Sweden, well that authenticated marriage certificate I mailed over did me no good on the residency permit side, but at least our marriage is now registered with Skatteverket, their version of the IRS. I only realized that nothing was happening when three months passed and no news was sent our way so I started raising a ruckus with the Consulate here to ask what the heck is going on (they had told me it would take three months maximum from receipt of my marriage certificate to having residency in hand, which is not at all how things went down). Turns out, we had been misinformed. So they gave us a bunch of forms to fill out, except when I got home nothing made any sense at all (and these were in English).

So I sent them a strongly worded email asking what exactly am I supposed to be doing with these nonsensical forms that ask where we live and work in Sweden when I explained to you that we wanted to get permission to live and work in Sweden? In response the Consulate sent me a link to an online form the very next morning—after 40 minutes answering questions, uploading documents, attaching photographs and providing my credit card information, BOOM, my request for residency based on familial relationships was sent! And now we wait.

For Italy, those cads are holding fast to their August 2013 appointment date, and I found out that the additional documents I will have to show are even more involved then originally thought. They want a recent copy of my birth certificate (of course I don't understand that since I wasn't born again), but it has to be translated and authenticated and stamped by the Department of State. Oh, and all of my four criminal records will have go through that same procedure...after I pay to get new ones done of course, since they'll be out of date by the time my appointment rolls around.

Although, as is the case with Italians, R met someone who knew someone who knew someone else that works at the Consulate and we were given an email address to use to ask for an earlier date. We did and were told that maybe they might have an earlier opening if we ask again in six weeks.

See? Red tape.

PS. Thank goodness everything is progressing for R with his US citizenship. He's already studying for the civics exam and we're just waiting for an appointment date for our interview, his test, and his oath (!) ceremony.


  1. congrats to R! soon he'll have the privilage of having to file (and pay) US taxes for the rest of his life. !! hurray!
    all this is ridiulous... oh and 'check again in 6 weeks" is that code for "check again in 6 weeks and perhaps by that time you've figured out that an envelope should be presented"...??

    1. Now, now, what happened to eternally positive and happy Ale? R was skeptical about becoming a citizen, too, having heard all the negative things about Americans paying taxes abroad, BUT: I can't guarantee that we won't want to come back to live in the US at some point (and no way am I going through the same hoopla of the last four years nor do I want to pay the fees all over again for him to be in the US legally for more than three months). Plus, you know me: I did a lot of (extensive) research, and the tax situation is actually not that bad. Especially since we want to move to a country where the tax rate is much higher than the US, and the agreements that allow Americans living in Sweden to use their living expenses to reduce their US taxes, it's possible we'll pay very little if anything in taxes back to the US. ;)

      For Italy: since elections are currently taking place, that was the excuse for the backlog and need to check back in 6 weeks.

  2. Glad there's at least some good news in the ps!

  3. Good Luck! I don't have any good general books because there are a lot of them out there. But, I do love the children's illustrator Elsa Beskow ... and if you have any little ones around reading those really helped my basic grammar. There's one about a "llittle house" -- it was the perfect drill and I read it before kids!

    1. Thanks, Gina! That book above is actually in English (oops!), but I will keep an eye out for the ones you recommend when it's time to start learning a little Swedish!


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