This morning began Phase II of my journey towards becoming a Dutch citizen. At the beginning of Phase I (before this blog began), I didn’t know if there would even be a Phase II, but I decided there should be and so here we go.
Phase I, in case you’re wondering was titled “Getting a Dutch Residence Permit (Verblijfsvergunning)”. This entailed several visits to the IND (Immigratie en Naturalisatiedienst) in Amsterdam, loads of paperwork, re-doing the paperwork, waiting and waiting and wondering if everything was ok and finally 4 months later receiving my permit. And actually feeling lucky that it was only 4 months when lots of people had to wait 6 months and more for their permits. This was just over 3 years ago when the IND was in an even worse backlog situation than they are in today, and when Rita Verdonk was just becoming a household name.
But I digress. This is about Phase II – Becoming a Dutch citizen and getting the passport and being able to vote. These are two big reasons for pursuing this adventure now. I want to vote in the country where I live and pay my taxes. I haven’t lived in the US for over 14 years and I haven’t voted in US elections in all that time. It doesn’t seem fair to me to have a say in how a country runs where I don’t live and it seems only right that I should have a say in NL. I’d also like to be able to travel on something other than an American passport, not out of fear but out of ease of movement.
But the main reason that I want to become a Dutch citizen is because this is my home. I live with a Dutchman. I’ve bought a house. I have a good job. I’ve learned (and am still learning) the language. I don’t plan to return to the US. This is my home.
Part I entails first having a Registered Partnership (Geregistreerd Partnerschap) with my Dutchman. This was our first surprise since we thought that having a Living Together Contract (Samenlevingscontract) was enough. We got this contract drawn up when we bought our house 2 years ago. It wasn’t a requirement, but the bank smiled more kindly on our mortgage application if we had it.
The Registered Partnership is a bit more “legal” and this is the required paperwork in order to even be ABLE to apply for a passport. Now, this only applies of course if you are legally in this country based on living with a Dutch person. Or we could just get married.
Anyway, we went down to the Stadsdeelkantoor (city administration) this morning to fill out the paperwork. They took my birth certificate and my divorce papers. They took copies of my passport and residence permit. They DIDN’T take my partner’s birth certificate. Since he was born in NL he has to get a NEW birth certificate (instead of using the 3 year old one he has) so we have to go after that now.
What happens now? The Stadsdeelkantoor has to approve my paperwork. THEN they have to send it all off to the IND and THEY have to approve it. All of this should take about a month. And that’s just to APPLY for a registered partnership, which should take another couple of weeks to be final. And only after THAT can I go to the IND and apply for a passport.
Some people say that it’s too easy to immigrate here, that the government lets people in too easily. I say that the bureaucracy alone is daunting enough to keep out those who are not stubborn enough or strong enough or supported enough to get through it. And besides, with the cost of all this bureaucracy (over EUR 400 or $450), it ain’t for the poor either (but that’s another topic….).