There are two occasions which urged me to think seriously about giving up my Indonesian passport and becoming a UK citizen. One of my friends asked if we’re interested in going somewhere on Easter break, and she quite fancied Switzerland and Austria. While another one immediately said yes, I had to tell her that it’s not that easy for Indonesian. We can’t just hop on the plane and fly to European countries. The other occasion was when Joan and I were talking about an impulse of spending the weekend, say, somewhere in Portugal, or Italy. I told her, that of course, for Indonesian, we have to plan in at least a month in advance. At least.
Being Indonesian, we are only allowed to set our foot into 11 countries without visas. For other countries, we have to embark on a long journey of collecting necessary documents and submit them to embassies, just to prove that we are worthy human beings who will not become burdens for them when we land in their precious countries. UK embassy in Indonesia now requires each applicant to have their finger scanned and photographs taken at the Visa Application Centre, as if all the documents we gather to submit are not genuine enough and they need to see with their own eyes and their own equipment that we’re not an alien or Imam Samudra descendant.
Of course my dear British and European friends don’t understand the hassle we have to go through every time we apply for a visa. They were surprised to find out that, for example, we need to provide a bank statement, showing that we are capable enough to buy food and souvenirs. Or a statement from our office, ensure the embassy that we are still working for them and will definitely return to Indonesia due to our commitment with them. Sometimes, depends on our luck of the day, we will be called for interview. And there should be a very valid reason why we want to fly to their country. If we want to go for a sightseeing, we have to show some proof (i.e. we have registered for a tour programme or have booked the hotel). If we visit our relatives or friends, they have to send letter to the embassy ensuring that they do know us and will take care of us (to a certain degree). Everything must be planned well ahead and no room for improvisation. On top of everything, we have to wait for a month to get our visa processed.
Lucky now Schengen visa covers 24 countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden), but even that, they will only give me 2 months-visa, and my friend who is married to a Dutch citizen gets 2 years-visa.
But if my friends decided to go to Switzerland and Austria, I have had to apply for 2 visas! And that means 2 months in waiting. At least. And submitting documents twice, each shall be altered according to each embassy’s requirement. With 1 hour journey from Aberdeen to Amsterdam, it becomes more silly that I have to plan everything so far ahead. Imagine the same hassle if people from Jakarta have to apply for a visa to Singapore each time.
Why are we so unworthy? What has our foreign ministry done so far?
Some people will say that I don’t love my country enough, thinking about giving up my Indonesian passport just for a silly reason. Maybe. But married to a foreigner makes me loose several rights in my own country, for example, the right to own a property. I can’t buy, and I can’t inherit. Unless I have had prenuptial agreement. So I become a guest, a visitor, in my own country! What does the government wish, that I have to rent a house for the rest of my life? And then if I have children, after they reach the age of 21 they have to choose whether they want to be Indonesian or UK since they can’t be both. Either way, they will become guests on either country. Imagine that I have to send an in invitation letter to my own children to visit my home country.
I still have 2 years to think about this thoroughly. Let’s see what’s going to happen.