Tuesday, July 02, 2024

U can make all the difference

When I moved to Denmark, I registered as a resident but wasn't issued a residence card because I was an EU citizen. Two years later, thanks to Boris Johnson and his cohort, I was informed by the Styrelsen for International Rekruttering og Integration (SIRI) that I needed to obtain the same kind of card issued to third-country nationals to be allowed to remain in Denmark. 

I was summoned for a meeting, fingerprinted, and photographed, transforming me into a more "alien" type of foreigner. Since then, I’ve had to present this card along with my UK passport every time I enter or leave the Schengen Area. This process means my passport is never stamped, preventing the activation of the restrictive 90-day rule for my nationality. It also gives me the right to work here, rather than just tourist rights.

I realise I shouldn't complain too much; I've heard about the numerous challenges EU citizens in the UK face due to the Home Office’s stubborn refusal to issue any physical proof of their residence status. Each time we arrive in the UK, Thomas’s status is checked on the computer at the border, but he lacks any physical proof of his UK settled status. 

However, having to undergo biometric registration back in 2021 was a wrench. It demoted me from being "one of us" to "one of them," making me a second-class immigrant. Every time I show that card, I’m reminded that my EU citizenship was stripped away against my wishes, setting me apart from my husband and children, as if I am simultaneously part of my family and yet somehow inferior to the others. I became the odd one out, unable to queue with them at the airport, always needing to justify my presence. 
Today, I was issued with a new card. At first glance, it looks identical to the old one, save for the issue date and a new, less flattering photo (they insisted I tie my hair back, giving me a tired, fierce look). But, the last word reveals a world of difference to anyone who's good at proofreading. 

The old card labelled my status as "TIDSBEGRÆNSET," while the new one says "TIDSUBEGRÆNSET." What difference does a single 'u' make? It signifies an upgrade from temporary (tidsbegrænset) to permanent (tidsubegrænset) Danish resident. This change means I can no longer be deported if something were to happen to Thomas, which is a comforting thought given his recent health scares. Although it’s not citizenship, this status grants me the same rights as a Dane, other than the right to vote in their General and European Elections. 

After over five years in post-Brexit limbo, this feels like a significant and reassuring milestone. It's as close as I can get to a passport change for now, and has gone a little way to making me feel like I am back in the European fold as a permanent resident. And what better day for it to happen, than the one when I was disenfranchised once again back in my chaotic home country?

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