Stupid Immigration Laws

By: Sramana Mitra

My mother-in-law died last night in Belgium. Under normal circumstances, I would leave for Brussels tomorrow night, to attend the funeral on Saturday morning.

Circumstances, however, are not normal. In fact, they are rather brain-dead. Immigration Policies in the EU do not permit long-term Visas, and I have an Indian passport, so I need a visa for Europe, and my Schengen Visa has expired. There is no Belgian Consulate in San Francisco where I can walk in and get a visa today. The nearest consulate is in LA.

It made me think, how come, in this age of electronic communication, we cannot tackle situations like this without physical exchange of documents?

It also made me write an email to Mr. Ronald De Langhe, Consul General and Ms. Veronique Marounek, Consul:

"Your laws, dear friends, are impractical and inhuman. In this day and age, with electronic communication of the utmost advanced calibre being available to us - it beats me why you cannot accept documents like bank statements, emails from family in Belgium confirming the news of the death, and payments by credit card. You have issued me a visa before. You have me on your file. Why can't you let the immigration in Belgium know that a person with such and such passport number is to arrive on such and such date, to attend a funeral? Why can't they check the passport number, while you check the electronic documents on this end? I need to take a plane tomorrow, and you don't have a consulate in the San Francisco area ... I do not have the time to send you the documents physically, because I will then miss the funeral.

Your laws and systems are outdated, and obsolete. You can tell me that the laws of no country allow for a visa to be issued without the passport being physically available. Well, my response to that then is that ALL immigration laws are outdated and obsolete. You should ALL look into what you are doing with a magnifying glass, study the progress of modern communication technology, and make a collective decision to join the march of human civilization."

A lady from the Consulate called me back this afternoon to offer me condolences, and to acknowledge my letter.

Who knows, however, where the immigration reforms stand? I wonder if they even know how to spell technology!

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