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Why I Spent €60 on Copies That Won’t Be Looked At

Part of my errands yesterday involved going to the library and making copies. We don’t own a printer because A) seriously small apartment, and B) we rarely have a use for one. For the few things that need to be printed out, I can pop down to the library. The only time that become frustrating is when immigration time comes around, and I have to make copies that won’t be looked it.

A Caveat

Okay, before I delve into this, I know someone is going to jump in and say “actually…” and cite some rule, or policy, or their personal experience that contradicts what I’m about to say. This is all from my own personal experiences over the past 6 years. I’m not making any of this up, embellishing, or mis-remembering, okay? Okay.

So Anyway…

When you go to your immigration meeting, you’re not meeting with the person or persons who will make your decisions. You will meet with a very nice clerk who is there to do two things: lay eyes on you, so they can verify you are the person in your passport photo, and make sure your paperwork is in order.

The expectation is that you will bring hard copies of documents that you have already submitted electronically. There is a context where this makes sense. We have to submit a scan of our passport, but they want to see the actual passport to make sure nothing was digitally doctored. When we first came, Katie and I submitted a scan of our marriage certificate to verify our relationship, but we had to bring the original. I understand bringing original documents.

Where this doesn’t make sense is when the original documents are digital. For example, I download our bank statements in PDF format from the bank’s website. They don’t send out paper statements in the mail. It’s not that it’s an option I’ve declined; they don’t send paper statements in the mail. Which is why printing out copies of the bank statements seems ridiculous to me.

Into the Recycling Bin

At every single meeting, the clerk goes through all of the paperwork to see if it’s there. I can’t see their computer screen, but they seem do be going down a checklist. Did they bring this? Yes. Do that have that? Yes. They verify that everything has been submitted electronically. I would guess that if it hadn’t, they’d keep the hard copy. When they’ve completed verifying your documents, they hand originals back to you. Copies that you made for them go straight into the recycling bin (to be shredded), because they’ve confirmed they have a digital copy.

Now, a reasonable person might think “just skip making copies of things that originate digitally.” I thought that, too, at our last meeting. I brought no printouts. Originals, but no hard copies of anything digitally-generated. I explained that I sent it digitally, so I didn’t think they needed copies that wouldn’t be looked at. I got chastised. Mildly, because this is Finland and seriously the bureaucrats are the nicest people in the world, but still chastised. “But the purpose of the meeting,” I was told, “is to verify the documents”.

So that’s why over multiple trips to the library I’ve dropped €60 ($70.88 USD) on copies that someone will look at for  few seconds and then toss in the bin. But you know what? If it means we get to stay in Finland and not have to go back to the United States right now, that is a freaking bargain.

Why I Spent €60 on Copies That Won’t Be Looked At

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

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