17 February 2020

Dealing with Border Patrol: An Evolution

Ever since I have been based here in the EU, I have had plenty of experiences with crossing borders. For the most part, this is smooth, since there is a large part of the EU that is part of the Schengen Area, which results in smooth travels within the countries that participate in this agreement. So I only encounter border patrol whenever I leave this area. And I must say, things have evolved.

See, back when I was a non-resident, I always had to get a visa to enter Europe. I never had issues getting this visa, since I always had valid reasons for entry. It was however a hassle to always go to the consulate or embassy and apply for a sticker in your passport. In any case, I would show up at the airport, and I would painlessly enter the region. I must say that my early years of entering and exiting the Schengen Area gave evidence of some of the most polite border officials. Perhaps I was contrasting it with US border officials, which can be a pain in the arse.

Then I became a resident, which made things easier. However, this was also the time when security measures were tightened, and I nevertheless had to use the foreign queue. Hence I see people queuing up before me, getting asked plenty of security questions. People were asked to provide evidence of their temporary accommodation, evidence of their flight back home, evidence of their funds, among other things. I didn't get these questions, as I was a resident, so it was smooth sailing for me, but I did see a change.

And now, I am a permanent resident. I so far have few data points, but it seems I don't get any questions at all. They just look at my permanent resident sticker, scan my passport, and let me through. Sometimes, I don't even get a stamp on my passport. Right now, the only hassle is that I still cannot use the EU queue, and still have to use the queue for all passports, which is the queue used by people who get plenty of questions.

Heck, the last time I entered Germany, it was smooth sailing for me, no questions asked, but there were two people in front of me who were held at the border and were told to step aside.

Perhaps this is one thing I am looking forward to, when I apply for citizenship in the near future. I would get an EU passport, and would be able to use the EU queue. And in some airports, there are even automatic border gates, and that is definitely fast.

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