The Na Slovensku Aj Po Anglicky podcast, with the support of Fjuzn is continuing its series on the migrant experience in Slovakia. In this episode, we look at how migrants navigate the process of legal immigration through setbacks, surprises and frightening uncertainty.
Legal immigration in Slovakia, like in most other countries, is a highly variable process. Migrant's country of origin, purposes of their stay, and other legal and economic factors can either help or hinder this process. For example, migrants having arrived from other EU member countries often find obtaining residency in Slovakia uncomplicated. The process and requirements for these migrants are simplified and streamlined in keeping with EU law.
Perhaps, the most complex of cases is that of asylum seekers. That was certainly true for the young Turkish student Yunus. As he was nearing the end of his Erasmus program in Bratislava, his father was arrested on suspicion of participating in the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. Yunus feared returning home would also put him at risk for arrest, so he decided to apply for asylum in Slovakia. The process was full of rejection and uncertainty, but after two and a half years, his application was finally approved.
For temporary and permanent residents, their immigration difficulties often begin and end with the Foreign Police, the department that oversees their cases. Migrants often complain about a lack of English speaking officers and impolite interactions, to put it mildly. These communication challenges often require migrants to bring interpreters who may not understand the complexity of the immigration process. Sometimes these advocates are offered by employers, but others must hire a professional or request help from friends or family. That is true for Elle from Malta, who asked her Slovak partner's cousin for assistance.
Unfortunately, the problems do not end with communication troubles. Obtaining the correct information and documents for each unique case can be difficult. Each Foreign Police officer may have differing interpretations of the law and request different documents, confounding even the most prepared. That can be taxing when coming from a less developed country. Craig from the United States, who had just moved from Zambia, was sent to Berlin only to find out the document he needed was in South Africa. This runaround, of course, is costly and simply impossible for some.
Thankfully, these problems are just temporary setbacks for most migrants. They celebrate the arrival of their id cards and focus on what they enjoy about life in Slovakia. For them, the heartaches and headaches of the immigration process are worth enduring for the chance to live in a country that offers freedom, a rich culture, and a high standard of living.
Guests: Craig Williams, Yunus, Aubrey Mathis, and Elle Ibbotson