It was only recently that I came to the realization that, in fact, I am not an expat; I am an immigrant. Although nothing is written in stone, I do not ever intend to return to my country of origin. I have grown to love stamppot, raw herring, and mayonnaise on my frites. Don’t even get me started on the joys of oliebollen. I am here for the duration, assuming the Netherlands doesn’t fall further into the sea and that the Dutch authorities eventually decide I am worthy of citizenship.
Time for the IND
So, after my previous failed attempts at applying for Dutch citizenship, I got on the phone yet again — this time to make an afspraak with Immigration and Naturalization (the IND). Luckily, I had done my research. I knew that when you call to make the appointment you will need to tell the medewerker under exactly which provision you are applying. For example, you are asking for residency to stay with your partner, you are coming to start a business, etc. It’s a good idea to check on their website before you call; otherwise, they can’t make the appointment for you. And whatever you do, do not — I repeat, do not — lose the afspraak code they give you over the phone or you’re gonna have a bad time.
My partner, Roland, came with me to file the paperwork, as I was filing under the provision to stay with my EU partner in the Netherlands. The agent with whom we met was friendly, but after looking over the papers we had carefully completed, she said we needed more paperwork from our accountant showing both our incomes from our business for the previous 3 years. I would need to make another appointment to come back and submit those before I could file for residency.
I had all the paperwork they needed — what could go wrong?
After a few days, I got the required paperwork from our accountant and made an appointment for 3 weeks later with the IND. When I made the appointment, I had written the afspraak number somewhere on the growing pile of paperwork I had, but for some reason I could not find it when I arrived at the IND welcome desk. But I figured they had my name, my BSN, and all my other vital information, so surely the appointment could be found in the system. Nope.
I was given a number to wait for an available agent. When my number was called, I sat down and made to hand my paperwork over to the agent; however, he said he was just there to see if he could find my afspraak number in the system. I kid you not, he sat there for 25 minutes looking trying to find the afspraak number on the computer, and finally he said “sorry, I can’t find it. You’ll have to make another appointment.” I am aware that I should not have lost the number, but seriously — why was nearly half an hour of both my time and the IND’s (not to mention the useless trip) wasted doing absolutely nothing? All I had to do was hand over some papers.
On our third trip to the IND we finally managed to submit the required paperwork, along with photos of our family having a gezellig picnic at the Leidse Hout to support my declaration that I had been living happily with my family in the Netherlands for the last few years. Everything seemed to be fine; the medeworker instructed me to go to a room on the second floor to have a photo and fingerprints taken for the biometric data they would need.
As I returned to the desk, I noticed the agent looking puzzled. She says, “I see you have Roland as your sponsor, but it says he is married and you are not?” Yes, that’s right, we nodded. “Roland is my partner, though he is married to his other partner, Juliette. We all live together with our daughter, Maya.”
Apparently, residency is only for the serially monogamous
We learned that, apparently, a married person can’t sponsor anyone other than their spouse. I’m not sure what sense that makes. The point of sponsorship is to assure the State that the sponsor will be responsible for the applicant should they not be able to support themselves, as long as the sponsor proves they have sufficient income to do so. Not only did Roland have sufficient income to support more than one person, but also (and most importantly as far as I’m concerned), as part owner of our family business, I have plenty of income to support myself, thank you (which was expressly written in the extensive paperwork our accountant had provided).
Despite the discrepancy, she stamped the paperwork anyway and said the IND would get back to me.