A SET OF DOCUMENTS TO THE INACTION OF STATE DEPARTMENT, CONSULATE & GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IN USA CONSULATES—why racism is not fought in Germany by USA consulates while it is in Kuwait?
In Kuwait and Germany, both countries in which I have lived for over five years each as an adult, I have observed a huge difference in how state department officials at how the different Embassy’s and different government offices handle requests by U.S. citizens for assistance or in how they have responded to racists or unfair policies of the local and national governments.
I write this so as to spur a discussion of how certain USA embassies and consulates or government officials handle cases similarly or differently.
The particular issue below is my personal one, but the responses or lack of responses do affect millions of Americans living or stationed abroad each year. (If the reader will review the official response to my enquiry, simply scroll down to the sample response from the consulate in Frankfurt below my letter of enquiry.)
MY EXAMPLE LETTER: Doc #1
Dear USA Consulate Germany and Kuwait,
I am a US citizen who has lived in Germany most of 2009. I received my full-employment visa in March 2009. Since then I have been trying to bring my wife over to Germany on a spousal Visa.
First, in April the German Embassy in Kuwait (where I met and married my wife, i.e. I worked there for 5 years) lost and delayed the visa application.
Second, in May the Einwohner- and Integrationsamt [local foreigners visa approval office] in Wiesbaden began to stall the visa application further. firstname.lastname@example.org
The office first tried to claim that my wedding certificate from Kuwait 2008 was not acceptable in Germany. I contacted the Kuwaiti Embassy (and you in Frankfurt) and this got settled.
Soon, the Einwohner- and Integrationsamt in Wiesbaden in came up with another stall tactic. They claimed in a face-to-face meeting with me on Monday 25, 2009 that my salary of approximately 30,000 Euros per year was insufficient to bring my wife here. [30,000 Euros is over 42,000 dollars.]
I have done research and 30,000 Euros in year is more than sufficient for a married couple with children in any part of Germany or Central Europe.
I therefore am finding the policy or politics of the Einwohner- and Integrationsamt in Wiesbaden to be against the EU rules on the right of having one´s spouse join him.
Moreover, the practice is racist in all appearance because my wife is Filipina. Apparently she does not belong to one of the more desired nationalities for Germany.
However, in light of EU law on the right of a spouse to join her husband, the preference of Germany in delaying my wife’s visa for many months is just plane illegal–regardless of what nationality she is.
Please lodge a protest with the Einwohner- and Integrationsamt in Wiesbaden and with other state officials in Germany, i.e. whose area of responsibilities cover and oversea the reuniting of husband and wife on German soil. email@example.com
Finally, I am writing you today because last night I received this SMS from my wife, Maria Victoria M. Baradero: “Sorry to tell you that my employer called and was very angry. He told me that if there is any penalty against him because of this delay, I will pay for it.”
This a threat on my wife’s safety. The EU law says that Germany should allow my spouse to come and live with me and where I work in Wiesbaden. Please have them back up their own rights in practice.
THE USA CONSULATE FRANKFURT ‘S RESPONSE TO MY LETTER: Doc #2
Dear Mr. Stoda:
While it is certainly disappointing to hear that you have encountered ongoing difficulties in your efforts to secure a German visa for your spouse, I must inform you that the Consulate is not in a position to intervene in private administrative or legal matters on behalf of American citizens overseas or their family members. We are explicitly prohibited by law from giving legal advice, or acting as agents or attorneys on behalf of private citizens before a foreign court or administrative body. Neither can we in any way seek to influence the outcome of foreign administrative or legal proceedings to which we are not a party.
Given your dissatisfaction with the way in which your case is currently being handled by the German authorities, and your concern that the administrative office in question may have overstepped their legal mandates, I strongly encourage you to discuss your case with an attorney and refer a complaint to the appropriate German administrative and/or criminal authorities if you and your attorney believe it is warranted. In an effort to assist you in this regard, I have attached a list of English-speaking attorneys practicing in Hessen.
In your correspondence, you did not indicate where your wife’s employer is located. Regardless, if you believe that she has been threatened in any way, I strongly advise that you or she report the threats to the appropriate local law enforcement authorities. Again, an attorney specialized in immigration or labor law may be assistance to you in this regard. If your wife’s employer is located in Kuwait, she may wish to inquire with the Philippines Embassy as to whether they can provide her with any specific advice regarding the legal status and rights of Filipino citizens in Kuwait. Should you wish to contact an attorney in Kuwait on our Embassy’s attorney list, it can be found at this link: http://kuwait.usembassy.gov/attorneys.html.
We wish you a satisfactory outcome in this matter. Please do not hesitate to contact us again if you believe we can be of further assistance within the parameters of U.S. law and regulation.
Kathryn L. Flachsbart
American Citizen Services
U.S. Consulate General Frankfurt
Overall, I was not surprised by the response of the American Citizen Service Office in Frankfurt, Germany.
The Frankfurt Consulate functions under some-self made rules and possibly from understaffing which appear to limit its capacity to aid Americans in Germany to a “very great degree”.
By this “very great degree”, I mean that this sort of written response is about as much as Americans in Germany expect these days. Either the U.S. government has intentionally tied the hands of American officials in Germany and Europe or they are simply underfunded—or both.
However, in my case, the lack of help will simply lead to more stress between American officials and German officials in the future. For example, as I received the response from the American Citizen Service Office in Frankfurt, I was already sending the following message to the Hessen Television network. Friends of mine in Wiesbaden had lovingly indicated that I should contact the local newspapers, news TV, and even national dailies, like BILD ZEITUNG, to place my story.
The following is one such request for help in German. The article’s title is called (in English) HOW MUCH MUST SOMEONE EARN TO LIVE AND WORK [IN GERMANY]???? The only major difference in this letter to the Hessen TV network and what I had written the USA government was that I noted that I had done research in both Germany and in Austria and had discovered that in Graz, a city in Austria, the local officials only required substantially lower sum than in Germany a married couple (with no children) to have a spousal visa for the non-working partner–i.e. the sum require in Austria was less than 14,500 Euros in a year. Wiesbaden, Germany’s Einwohner- and Integrationsamt was requiring me to have more than double that.
WIE VIELE MUSS MANN DEN VERDIENEN??????: Doc #3
Ich bin Amerikaner und habe einen Visum, um in Deutschland zuarbeiten. Meine Frau bleibt aber schon seit beihnahe ein halbes Jahr im Ausland, da sie keinen Visum in Deutschland bis jetzt bekommen hat. Ich verdiene im Jahr um 30,000 Euro. Am 25. Mai 2009 war ich bei dem Einwohner- und Integrationsamt in Wiesbaden. Ich habe klar und deutlich gefragt, ob ich jedoch genug (30,000 im Jahr) verdiene um meine Frau hierher zubringen. Die Antwort von dem Einwohner- und Integrationsamt in Wiesbaden lautet, “Nein, Sie verdienen nicht genug.”
Ich habe ueberall in Deutschland nachgefragt–beim AOK und Pfarrer in Kirchengemeinden. Sie meinte, dass viele Ehepaaren verdienen weniger als 30,000 Euros im Jahr. Mittlerweile einen Gemeinden in Graz Oestrich mir erzaehlt, dass man nur 1200 Euros in Monat verdienen soll um den Frau von Ausland mitzubringen–und alle nach Europaeischen Recht. Ich verdiene wesentlich mehr als jenes Gelhalts. Dazu habe meine Frau und ich keine Kindern.
Ich glaube, die Wahrheit ist, dass meine Frau aus den Filipinnen herkommt, einen von dem Unerwuenschtes Landes.
Der deutsch Botschaftler im Ausland mit dem ich regelmaessig Kontakt habe, meinte ich habe vollrecht die Frau zu mir ziehen zur koennen.
Aber in Wiesbaden von dem Einwohner- und Integrationsamt sitzen aud den Akten und machen seit einige Zeit keine Entscheidung. Ich meine; SIE sagen nichtmals “Nein” oder “Ja”.
Nun bin ich sehr Unterdrueck gesetzt. Ich kann denn Drueck ihnen naeher erzaehlen, sobald Sie bei mir melden moechten.
Meine Kirchengmeindemitglieder in Wiesbaden haben mir heute empfohlen an Ihnen zu schreiben und mit dem “Leute Sollen Sich Beschweren” in Hessen zu sprechen.
Name: Kevin Anthony Stoda
REPEAT: The only major difference in this letter to the Hessen TV network and what I had written the USA government was that I noted that I had done research in both Germany and in Austria and had discovered that in Graz, a city in Austria, the local officials only required substantially lower sum than in Germany a married couple (with no children) to have a spousal visa for the non-working partner–i.e. the sum require in Austria was less than 14,500 Euros in a year. Wiesbaden, Germany’s Einwohner- and Integrationsamt was requiring me to have more than double that.
LEUTE SOLLEN SICH BESCWHERDEN
By the way, the Hessen TV program “Leute Sollen Sich Beschwerden” [PEOPLE MAKE COMPLAINTS, which is usually about government bureaucrats] has already shown interest in my story. The focus of this station will hopefully be on getting my wife a visa and the lack of decisiveness in the Wiesbaden foreigners bureau (Einwohner- and Integrationsamt) in a manner that appears to be a racially motivated manner against Filipino wives. However, who-knows perhaps it will also directly or indirectly also turn to the fact that many U.S. citizens working in or stationed in Germany feel they get sufficiently less help than they should from the U.S. Embassies in Germany than in other lands.
I plan to contact the other news sources recommended by my concerned friends soon.
I am trying my best to settle this matter short of bringing a lawyer in. More lawyers involvement increases the need for bureaucracy and money—and I am coming to hate German and American bureaucracy more and more.
p.s. The Filipino Embassy in Germany never answered my request to help my wife and I to live together in the same country either. However, again, I found the over-bureaucratized Filipino embassy in Kuwait a bit more helpful in my past dealings and in its concerns for worker rights and needs of is citizens.