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EDITORIAL

Simplify the green card renewal process

Like a child with an assortment of new goodies who can't decide which one to play with first, authorities at the Slovak aliens and border police (who provide and renew green cards) are constantly toying with the green card renewal process, blithely tacking on new requirements that confuse rather than clarify.
The result is that the renewal process is more difficult than ever, and foreigners are more frustrated by the day.
It's easy to understand why.

Like a child with an assortment of new goodies who can't decide which one to play with first, authorities at the Slovak aliens and border police (who provide and renew green cards) are constantly toying with the green card renewal process, blithely tacking on new requirements that confuse rather than clarify. The result is that the renewal process is more difficult than ever, and foreigners are more frustrated by the day. It's easy to understand why.

Exhibit A - A middle-aged British professional citizen who has lived and worked in Slovakia for a few years was suddenly told he needed to produce his university diploma to renew his green card. Problem was, this man's school didn't print diplomas at the time he graduated. Not good enough, said the Slovak authorities. So the man had to call his school and get them to fax his transcript - all six pages of it - to get a new card.

Exhibit B - A high-level American banking representative was confronted with this laundry list of items that needed to be satisfied for green card renewal, in addition to the normal regulations: his original diploma, a notarized, translated copy of the diploma, and a description of the software he uses at work.

Exhibit C - A director of a shipping company was denied his green card extension because he produced Polaroid photos with a white background. He was told to come back with studio-produced photos that have a blue background.

And so it goes. Where it stops, not even the Slovak authorities seem to know. That's because while the aliens and border police offices have been decentralized to better serve Bratislava and its surrounding area's eight districts, there's no clear consensus among these offices what foreigners are required to provide to renew. So, the process is left in the hands of low-level, capricious bureaucrats who pester enough to deserve their own brand of repellent.

It's simple logic to us that renewing one's green card should be easier than the process of getting it in the first place. We think it can be that way.

Our solution is that non-Slovak citizens must provide documentation that they have had no problems with the law or with the police in the past year and are financially self-sufficient to extend their permit. These are exactly the requisites that would separate which foreigners are honest, law-abiding, money-making guests in this country and those who are not.

Documentation would be easy enough, too. The police, undoubtedly, has criminal files that would weed out delinquent outsiders here, and the existing rule that the foreigner's employer must submit a letter vouching for that person's legal and gainful employment satisfies the other.

We understand the police's desire to keep non-desirable elements out of Slovakia. But subjecting non-Slovaks to the tedious, gruelling procedure that exists now to renew green cards could backfire with law-abiding, revenue-and-jobs-producing foreigners deciding that it's not worth the hassle, and leaving for good.

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