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Published on January 8th, 2015 | by Dr. Jimmy Wall


When your Citizenship is Worth Jack Shit

It was the plan all along – to eventually move to Norway from Australia. We just didn’t expect that both of us wanted to move as soon as possible.

Early in 2014 we decided that moving from Australia to Norway was a better-now-than-never decision.

I would graduate from university with a Bachelor’s of Journalism at the end of 2014, and due to the massive governmental cuts to the media and continued cuts in staff, it didn’t make me feel all that confident I would find a job as a journalist. At least not the job I want.

The media crisis has hit Australia hard, as most crisis does in Australia. The people panic, run around like headless chickens, shrieking “the end is nigh, we’re doomed!” I think one media house fired up to 400 people or something. That doesn’t build confidence.

Journalists that still have a job fear they might be next, and those wanting to start a career as a journalist start to wonder if they’ll be able to enter the market at all. It’s so bad a lot of graduates are considering going over to the dark side of public relations. Good luck trying to become a journalist after working as a spin doctor for a while.

Don’t get me wrong, there has been a bit of a crisis in Norway and Sweden, too, but there is still this Nordic confidence that it will pass like an angry storm. As we like to say here, “after rain there is sunshine.”

Even if some Nordic journalists have told me the situation is bad, I try to tell them it’s far from as bad as it is in Australia at the moment. And if you really want something, sometimes you have to take a risk and power through to get where you want. Get out of your comfort zone for a bit. Playing safe has never created success.

Do you think Hunter S. Thompson would’ve become the father of Gonzo Journalism if he had thought, “Oh well, I’ve looked for work for a week, I guess I’ll just settle for a job at the local store and hope some kind of writing gig comes along?”

You will get nowhere in life if you give in and play it safe all the time. Remember when you read about that famous person that had this amazing talent but worked in a different field to pay the bills, and suddenly, out of the blue, got recognised for it? Neither do I.

But I’m not writing this to lecture you on why you have to work hard to get what you want. I’m writing this to tell you that not all countries treat their citizens with dignity and respect. I spent most of 2014 reading up on immigration to Norway for the missus — she’s Australian. As a Norwegian citizen I can just walk into the country with great ease — so I thought.

For the missus, with an Australian citizenship, a non-EU/EES citizen, the Norwegian bureaucracy kicks in. As I’m the one responsible for her, the Norwegian government demands I not only earn a certain amount each year, for three years, I also have to show them proof of future income for each year.

As with most jobs, applying for a job from across the other side of the world is equal to flushing that application letter down the toilet. We humans are social people, and even if technology has made the world smaller, an employer still wants to look you in your real eyes and shake your real hand.

Trying to land an interview has unfortunately gone a bit slower than expected for me here in Norway, but that was kind of expected. What I didn’t expect was I would feel unwelcomed in my own country. The very country where I have citizenship.

You see, in Norway we have what is called a resident registry. You have to let the Norwegian government know where you are living, which I’m okay with. What I didn’t expect was that, because I’ve been living abroad, coming home to Norway, I would not be allowed to register my new Norwegian address. At the moment, to save some money and making it easier to set up base, we are staying with family.

To be allowed, even as a Norwegian citizen, when I hand in my form to update my residential address in Norway, as a Norwegian moving back to Norway, I also have to supply them with a job contract, showing that I can support myself. Because I’m in the process of finding work I’m unable to provide them with that, and they are unwilling to update my address. So practically, as far as the Norwegian government is concerned, even though I’m in Norway, I reside in Australia. That is how much my Norwegian citizenship is worth. My government won’t let me, their own citizen, update my address when I’ve returned to my country of origin.

Of course, they have another option, but out of principle I refuse to recognise it. The person we live with can write a letter, kind of an affidavit, that I live at the current address. But here’s the kicker, they will then check if that person has the means to support me. I refuse to put a family member through that kind of disrespecting scrutiny.

I’m disgusted! I contacted the agency about it and they claimed the reason for doing this is because Norwegian passports get stolen a lot. What a passport and a residential address has in common is beyond me, and if my passport is stolen it should be damn obvious when I apply to have my residential address updated. Bloody fools!

Just imagine this situation if you will. You’re living abroad, and you’re single. You suddenly fall ill and want to return to your home country. Because you’re ill you might not be fit to work, but you have the means to get home and pay for yourself while living with a family member or a friend. But your own government won’t allow you to change your address.

You see, to get a doctor and get medical help under the governmental scheme in Norway you need an address in Norway, but if your government doesn’t let you, you are, pardon my language, fucked.

Of course, you can go to a private practice, which is not too expensive but expensive enough. That’s not my point though. This is a matter of principle.

As a citizen you should be able to enter your own country with great ease. Not feel like you have to prove you are worthy to return to the country you were born and have citizenship.

Luckily I lived in Sweden a while back, so for me to move back there should be rather effortless — I hope. Same goes for my wife. Sweden is a bit more forgiving. We’ll head over to Sweden to have a chat with their bureaucrats in a few days, and if things seem a bit easier for both of us there, regarding immigration, we might end up there instead.

Not what we had planned, but, end of the day, you just have to do what is best for the future. And what matters more right now, more than a job actually, is to be allowed, for both of us, to stay within Europe without fear of being told to get the hell out.

As a word of caution, before you leave your own country, where you have citizenship, check with your government if they will welcome you back, or if they will, like Norway, give you a freezing cold shoulder. If that is the case, then see to it, if you want it, how to receive citizenship in the country you are moving to. If only I had bothered getting Swedish citizenship when I lived in Sweden.

With that said, I wouldn’t be writing this outlandish tale from and about Norway if I had Swedish citizenship. All would most likely be rather peachy right now.

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About the Author

Dr. Jimmy Wall — journalist and columnist. Drawn to journalism thanks to Hunter S. Thompson’s Gonzo journalism. He shares the good old doctor’s disdain of objective journalism, as he too sees how it can be easily used to either not uncover the truth or pretend you have reported the truth. The good old doctor said it best, “I don't quite understand this worship of objectivity in journalism. Now, just flat-out lying is different from being subjective.”

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