supreme court of canada guarantees voting rights for non-residents

January 11, 2019, CBC News: Supreme Court of Canada guarantees voting rights for expats

People challenge my Canadian-ness all the time. It’s an unnerving microaggression that comes with the business of being a Canadian person of colour among white Europeans for whom citizenship – especially achieved through naturalisation, not birth – is somehow not enough. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is the context in which I lost my Charter-protected right to vote four years ago.Read More »

naturalisation? nein danke

Happy eight year anniversary, Germany. We could officially get hitched, y’know. One of your conditions would be that I dump Canada and Hong Kong, which I’d never do. I used to think this was a bit of a pity; every time I stood in line at immigration at a European airport I salivated at the thought of a red passport.Read More »

checkpoint lütten klein, for persons (not) of a certain colour

The AfD [extreme right political party in the German parliament] had announced it would be setting up  camp in Lütten Klein. I went there to go to ultimate frisbee practice anyway. We were gathered in front of a buddy’s house beforehand. I was about to head off when I realised I’d forgotten my backpack, so I turned back for it. Clara or Swantje had picked it up and put it inside her much larger black backpack and was carrying a third. I reached for mine, but she handed me a green hiking pack instead.

“It’s better if you carry this,” she said grimly.Read More »

residence permits in germany

Her face is so familiar... because it's on the posters at the visa office
Her face is so familiar… because it’s on the posters at the visa office

Most of the non-Germans I know in Hamburg are now graduated/ing and looking to stay and work in Germany. A few of them have been asking me about work/residence permits because somehow I am one step ahead of most of them. Here’s what I found out:

If you are a non-EU national and you graduated from a German university:

  • You are allowed to stay in Germany for 18 months after graduation. Note that you have to apply for a permit to do so. Since residence permits and work permits are now one and the same in Germany, you are allowed to pick up any kind of employment with this permit.
  • If you find a job that matches your qualifications, you can get a residence/work permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) that’s tied to this job. Once the job contract ends, your permit ends.
  • You can apply for a permanent residence permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis) after 2 years’ of paid employment and contributions to the German state pension plan (Rentenversicherung) on the conditions that you have employment, accommodation, basic German language skills, basic knowledge of German political and social systems.
  • You can also apply for a permanent residence permit after 33 months of holding a EU Blue Card, which you obtain by having a job contract with annual gross salary of minimum €47.600 – or €37.128 in the fields of natural sciences, math, engineering, medicine or IT. The incubation period shortens to 21 months if your German is B1 level or higher. The card allows you to live (I think work as well) in other EU countries.

it’s the integration, stupid

What with local UK and European elections next week, there’s been a lot of talk on immigration. Farage/UKIP, following a string of racism scandals, continues its racist rhetoric and pressures Miliband/Labour into following suit with some xenophobic pandering of its own in the hopes of holding on to the blue-collar vote.

They remind me – once again – that we urgently need to change the public and policy discourse from immigration to integration.

Not a single person in the entire history of the human species has ever chosen which country to be born in, and yet this accident of birth has a tremendous influence in determining how one’s life will pan out. Immigration – the movement of people – is hence about justice and equality. The actual movement of humans across a national border causes no problems. A failure to integrate them into their new communities and societies, however, will.

Academic findings by Oxford and UCL show that immigrants make a positive net contribution to the UK economy and are less likely than native-born Brits to receive state benefits or live in social housing. The same story holds true for  New Zealand and other countries. In other words, immigrants are good for the economy – so let’s redirect our efforts towards making everyone more relaxed about them. Let’s introduce better integration policy! Because people should have the right to move where they want to be and to be able to call that new place ‘home’.