Arbitrariness of authorities – Tongan Passport

And the Fun goes on. Preparation for the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Tongan Passport, trying to enter the Schengen Area with a simple tourist visa. After three month of preparation and always new paper work to provide, after a total of 1.000 USD on costs – we learn that the Embassy forgot to inform us that there’s no visa required…

3 month of preparation. Long phone calls from Thailand to the German Embassy in the US and the Foreign Office in Germany. Over a week waiting time until the officers confirmed with their super visors.

My Tongan husband had to fly 2 hours from Portland to San Francisco to apply for his visa in the German Embassy. Double check with the super visor- Yes, it is necessary, he has to apply in person. Extra costs were flight and two nights stay.

It took almost two month to get an appointment. Time to prepare all the REQUIERED paperwork.

A certified copy of my passport was needed. No an email wouldn’t be enough. No, it wouldn’t be enough, that I am still registered in Germany. So I had to go to the German Embassy in Thailand, pay 10Euro for a stamp and send the copy in a secured envelop to the USA.

In the meantime in Germany: my friend had to go through my boxes and get documents out of my folder: our marriage certificate and Apostille- both as certified copies. Her dad, would go the foreigner registration office with his passport, his last three salary slips and proof that he owns property to sign a declaration of commitment. That all had to be sent in a secured envelop to the USA.

Health-Insurance for the time being in the Schengen Area. Had to be arranged and sent to the USA.

Then in the USA: Flight to San Francisco including two nights stay.

After the appointment at the Embassy: Suddenly there were new documents required. Residence Permit of myself for Tonga- which I could not deliver since I don’t have it. Also an onward flight from the Schengen Area was needed. Since this was not requiered in the past, we asked again if that is really needed. Yes, it would be. So within a day we had to book another flight. (Difficult, since the next assignment is not clear yet.)

Departure day came closer and still didn’t receive the passport back. Then I receive a message, that according to new regulations Tongan citizen won’t need a Schengen Visa any longer!!!

No, that can’t be. The Embassy would know and would have told us. I mean, come on, I talked to the German Embassy in the US, the officer confirmed with her supervisor and they emailed all requirements. And I did double check and asked again, so they must have checked their system. They even consulted with the German Embassy in New Zealand. I did speak as well to the foreign registration office in Germany. Yes, there’s a new officer, that’s why he confirmed with his supervisor as well. Three authorities, all confirming with their supervisors. Shouldn’t they know?

I did check the information I had received and YES it seemed to be true. True, that Tongan citizen won’t need a Schengen Visa anymore.

So I called the German Embassy in the USA. The officer had never heard of this regulation. She asked me: „So, do you want to withdraw your visa application?“ Well, no. I am not going to take any risk, five days before he’s flying out. I’d like to know the regulations. She didn’t know but she was willing to find out. But she needed time and promised to call back.

While waiting for her call, I found the proof in the web. She called back and cheerfully said:  „Yes it’s true: NO Schengen visa required for Tongan citizen!

So, yes it all was unnecessary! We’ll send the passport back today.“

Ahh, ok. So where can I get a reimbursement of all the unnecessary expenses?

„What do you mean? There’re no expenses, there’re no visa fees.“

Well, there’re unnecessary expenses . Because of false information, we were asked to bring all kind of unnecessary documents. Taking a unnecessary flight. Not including the time wasted by sending 5 people around for no reason, there are monetary expenses of at least 1.000USD.

„Well, I don’t understand what you mean, but if you wish you can send us an email.“

Ahhhh, no one feels responsible. Would it be the other way around, there wouldn’t be any delays in getting the money issue settled.

Six years ago, we were engaged and planned to visit my family in Germany, the German Embassy in NZ refused his visitor visa. They said the safety of the German people would be more important then his wish to meet the family of his fiancée, people he had never met before! No, he had no criminal record and no Tonga is not on a terrorist list. Back then I believed there’s nothing one can do to the arbitrariness of an authority.

Five years ago, we were married by then, they gave us a very hard time to get a family visitor visa. When we expected our child and I intended to give birth in Germany, I insisted on the visa. It was a big struggle on many levels. Due to a hearing and speaking disability, he could not provide the German language test that was required. Without speaking the language he could not get in. I asked how could it be, that we have so many people living in Germany, who even after 30 years don’t speak the language but someone with a speaking disability would get denied entry because of this disability. I was informed that it would be different if he had the Turkish citizenship, different requirements, less struggle.

The one Embassy we applied refused to accept the application. They said they were not responsible and we needed to apply in a different country. Almost one year and many thousands of Euros later we were told to apply exactly at the same Embassy that had send us away one year before.

Wasted 1 year of valuable time and many thousands of Euros. No reimbursement, no apology. Only arbitrariness of authorities.

This time I am not willing to accept the arbitrariness of authorities. I do not accept that we have to pay again for following the uninformed information giving be authority. The first Embassy I called, tried to brush me off. The second Embassy tried to talk them out by saying that this regulation must be so new, that the officers couldn’t known about it. The regulation is valid for 1 year now. I do expect an officer to check the regulations before sending people around.

What can I do? I am going to start by sending a letter to the head authority.

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Here’s the first part: Loosing your nationality through travelling?

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