Wednesday, October 14, 2009



By Kevin Stoda, Wiesbaden

(Note: the names and some small details are changed to protect the identities of the North Americans mentioned in this article

This article begins laying the groundwork for an international investigation of German Visa laws and practices as of 2009-2010. Until a few years ago, Germany was the number one destination in Europe for immigrants. That has changed sharply due partially to a serious of draconian measures implemented in the last half decade.


Let me tell you about Molly.

Molly is an American who used to work for the USA State Department during the Reagan years in Bonn. Later, Molly returned to Europe around 1990 and has worked free-lance in both the Czech Republic and Germany for most of the past 20 years.

As Molly has gotten older, she has tried to get a better social welfare net under her wings--as well as health insurance--but for the past few years in Germany, she has only received a visa to work free lance as trainer, i.e. not a type of visa enabling her to become employed full-time and thus become eligible to receive the benefits of laboring so many years in Europe (in terms of health care and other benefits). In short, Molly has only a free-lance visa and being a North American provides little to no benefits in Europe these days.

Belatedly in early 2009, the Riad Family from Canada discovered this same fact about receiving-only-limited-to-poor-help in obtaining proper visas from German officials. The Riads learned the-hard-way that it is often much harder than one would think to either continue receiving visas or to ever receive a renewal of a work visa in Germany—regardless of how many qualifications one has.

The father of the Riad household is Abdul. He had received a well-paying job offer to come to Germany and work in 2007.

Before bringing his family to Europe, Abdul had been assured that Germany was a changing land and was interested in integrating foreigners, especially technically gifted foreigners, such as himself. Since Abdul was in-between work at the time, he accepted the well-paying offer to come to Germany two years ago. He soon moved here to work near Wiesbaden in Hessen with his entire household.

Then in late 2008 came the big economic collapse across the European continent. Abdul’s firm was not spared. Abdul was laid off earlier this very year.

Abdul’s wife, Melinda, is a certified English trainerr, so when Abdul was laid off in late 2008, Melinda quickly went out looking for work. However, even after Melinda had found herself a lot of work as an English trainer with one several of the local Wiesbaden firms, the Integrationsamt (local Wiesbaden Visa Office) in town refused to allow Melinda to receive her work visa. The visa office claimed incorrectly that there are many Germans who can or are willing to do similar work.

NOTE: One reason many German citizens do not take such training jobs in firms and in private universities is because the work is often unsteady, or underpaid s, and/or it is offered without the traditional working benefits which typical Germans have come to demand and expect over the decades.

Meanwhile, as Abdul is a highly trained and qualified technician, he has gone out to interview for several well-paying positions. However, unlike at his original workplace in Germany, once Abdul walked into the interview door and was seen as a foreigner, i.e. of Middle Eastern parentage, his chances of landing a new job in Germany came to appear to be worse by the week.


Similarly, due to visa manipulations at the Wiesbaden Integrationsamt over the previous three years, John Walker of the UK moved with his wife, Melia, at the end of last year, to Canada.

John has been a life-long trainer in various companies and at universities in the UK and abroad over the last few decades . Three years ago, John had arrived in Wiesbaden, Germany with Melia in order to teach and work in universities and training centers in Frankfurt and Mannheim. John liked his work here in Hessen, but his wife, Melia, was constantly having visa troubles. In two and a half years, the couple had to apply 5 times for a visa for Melia to stay in Germany

You see, Meli, who had lived in the UK for the previous 15 years of her life, was of Taiwanese descent. In short, Melia had never bothered to get a European passport.

To make a long story short, after her husband, John, had fought the German bureaucrats for nearly three years, Melissa (and John) decided to take the first visa- and job offer to Canada in November 2008.


Similarly, after fighting the German bureaucrats in Wiesbaden’s Integration Offices most of 2009, the Abdul Riad family will be flying this very October ( 2009) back to Canada to restart their lives—even though he hasn’t yet found any replacement work for himself and his wife.

For several months, prior to giving up on their dream to move to Germany, Abdul and Melissa, had candidly considered fighting the inhumane treatment of their family under the currently questionable visa restrictions employed in Germany, i.e. they had thought of taking the whole case of visa discrimination to their household through to the Supreme Court in Germany. However, in the end, in order for their family to be spared the probability of facing even more certainty in 2010 while their visa case chugged through the German courts, the Riad family finally took what little they have left of their savings back to Canada, in order to start over.

Molly, too, is throwing in the towel this year on ever getting a decent work visa in Europe. That is a kind of visa that would obtain her legal protections if she lost her job or at least a visa that would lead to her employers helping her pay for the expensive German healthcare system. (Molly will be returning to the USA by the end of November this year.)


Wiesbaden is not the only city in Germany that seems to strive to get North Americans kicked out or that seems to try to keep North Americans unemployed in Europe.

Let me tell you about Donald.

Donald’s father works for a major U.S. government agency, so Donald’s mother and father moved over to work out of Frankfurt over five years ago. With this job situation, both Donald’s mother and father have received diplomatic visas to live and work in Germany. Alas, some years ago, Donald had been told upon his arrival by authorities in Germany that he was too old to be covered by his parent’ s visa. So, when Donald was in his early 20s he went through the process of applying for a German work visa on his own.

Over the past 4 years, Donald has seen more flipflops and loopholes and criminal irresponsibility at Integrationamts in Frankfurt than even Molly, John & Melia, Abdul and Melissa observed in other locations in Germany.

For example, one year Donald was told point-blank that he couldn’t work in Germany no matter what. Another year he got a work visa with a great fight. Still, another year he was told the visa would not be renewed. He and his parents fought the Integration Office in Frankfurt until the visa was, in fact, renewed last year.

Late this year, 2009, however, Donald was told by Frankfurt Integrationsamt employees that Donald had never needed a visa at-all because his parents’ diplomatic passports stated very clearly that Donald could live and work in Germany under their visa—after all—until the age of 27 as long as he wasn’t married and was in the same house living as a dependent. (Was this was a European-wide law that had suddenly been rediscovered? Or was this something more than incompetence? Was it an anti-North American policy in Frankfurt?)

Since Donald had never really needed a visa, his parents then asked for the money back on the previous visas. The Frankfurt Visa office answered, “No refunds.”


In short, the credibility of the various Integrations Offices with civil servants and visa authorities who deal with non-German and visas in each township in Germany is extremely low very as 2009 comes to an end. (Wiesbaden has just received recognition as a model city of integration in Hessen. I have offered to work with or for the Integrationsamt if Wiesbaden is ever to maintain such a title in the coming decade.)

Not only do the Wiesbaden and Frankfurt Integration Offices have a bad reputations among most all foreigners and asylum seekers in the region of Hessen, but most such offices around Germany are seen as agencies of impunity, whose rules are almost weekly manipulated and changed arbitrarily, so that public and international credibility are at an all-time BRD low as the decade comes to an end.

Molly, who is going home to the U.S.A. after a two decade-long hiatus, told me recently what had happened to her in Potsdam at the Visa office there for the State of Brandenburg back in 2004.

At that point in her career in Germany, Molly had completed five years of continuous work in the Potsdam and Berlin region and--according to German law at the time--should have had the right to ask for a two or three year visa in her own name (, i.e. not in the name of an employer or particular company as is on my own passport in Wiesbaden.)

The Visa Office in Brandenburg’s Potsdam simply lied in 2004 straight to Molly’s face. These Potsdam visa officials claimed to Molly, “No, you are not eligible for a multiple-year visa and will never receive that right as a free-lancer.”

Humbled by this bold-faced lie (at what later became Potsdam’s Integration Office), Molly paid for another one-year visa and then never returned.

Luckily, the next year, 2005, Molly found herself, instead, working in Bavaria outside Munich. Molly lived and worked most of the time within site of the German Alps in the Allgau region that year. The region was a place where not too many Americans or Canadians around. Moreover, there did not seem to be any pent-up hostility towards Americans or Canadians there.

As the time came for Molly to renew her own work visa, that particular friendly local visa bureaucrat stared at her passport in amazement and asked, “You were eligible for multi-year visa over a year ago. Why didn’t you apply for a multi-year visa and save yourself some money?”

Molly tried to tell that Allgau civil servant that the Potsdam office had said she wasn’t eligible. This honest bureaucrat simply looked at her in astonishment, and was surprised that Molly had accepted the lies of the Potsdam civil service and visa office a year earlier.

To make a long story short, that very same helpful Allgau civil servant obtained a multi-year visa for Molly within a two week time period—in record time.

Molly was blown away.

This is one reason why, when my wife’s spousal visa was turned down last June 2009 here in Wiesbaden, Molly had recommended to me that I move to a small town somewhere, like the Allgau, and seek out fairer civil servants and a foreigner-friendlier Integrationsamt.


In the 1500s, Martin Luther had once stated position before God and man. He had declared before the religious courts and peoples of the German speaking lands, “Here I stand.”

Luterh said this in regards to his beliefs on the Bible, on God, and religious faith and life. Martin Luther is still one of the few world-famous German role models of the last 500 years. In short, he is famous for standing up for what he believed to be the truth and would lead to a more egalitarian world.

Similarly, the October 14, 2009—with the Riad family flying back to Canada--I believe I have got to take a stand like Luther and demand that North Americans and other foreigners get a fair shake, in terms of employment, unification of family visas, and access to fair and equal employment visas.

This is why I haven’t thrown in the towel on my wife’s spousal visa to date. This is why I continue to fight for a change in my extremely restricted work visa

Wouldn’t You?

Shouldn’t I?

Please consider standing with me on this and contact the PETITIONSAUSSCUSCH at the Hessen Landtag and ask the state of Hessen to rethink the state’s--especially Wiesbaden’s and Frankfurt’s--visas-issuing practices now and in 2010.

Call or write to:
Vorsitzenderinnen des Petitions Ausschusses
Landestag Hessens
Auswärtige Amt
das Hessisches Ministerium des Innern und für Sport,
Postfach 31 76,
65021 Wiesbaden
Telefonnummer 0611 350229 bzw. 0611 350230 oder per E-Mail: erforderlich.



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