With the end of November it’ll be the sixth month that I have been trying to sort out my papers to be able to attend the secondment at the University of Wolverhampton, starting by renewing my passport, to acquiring a new residency which then allows me to have the grounds upon which I can apply for a visa. Until now my blogs were an opportunity to either reflect on this process without allowing it to be my primary concern, or work through other issues I’m dealing with. With every months the mental and emotional space that I have for anything other than sorting paper work, filling out forms, and collecting documents, have been increasingly getting taken over by the anxiety of not being able to know what the next months will be like, where I’ll be, or what I’ll be working on.
For the record I’ll just sketch what the process has been like so far. To start with, when I moved to Iceland my passport was expiring, so as soon as I arrived I had to go back to the Netherlands to renew it through the Lebanese embassy in order to be able to settle my legal status for a longer period of time. This meant travelling to the Netherlands and waiting for a month and a half until the passport is processed. Then since a residency permit is only issued as long as a passport is valid, I had to renew my residency as soon as I came back to Iceland. A necessary prerequisite process for applying for visas since I should include my residency details in my application. After submitting my application, I had to provide my biometric information at an office in Reykjavik that was open only one day a couple of weeks after my already amended arrival date. Now in order to be able to travel to my family during the holiday I paid a fee to keep my passport which then means that after a decision has been made I need to mail my passport to another office in a different country to get the physical confirmation. Finally, since there is a time limit on travel attached to Icelandic residencies, all this happened while trying not to apply again for the residency that I renewed a couple of months ago.
This state of having no future is not unfamiliar since like everyone who leaves their country without a passport from a state in the global North, our future extends as long as our visa. What is proving to be psychologically and physically draining for me is finding the energy for the simultaneous necessity to find a decently livable equilibrium in a new country, continuously working to be in another during a global pandemic, while trying to have enough space to read and write meaningfully. While challenging, these experiences would be manageable in different circumstances, but it’s hard to navigate having no stable place to exist in legally and physically, while it is a health risk to go to your work place even if it is down the street. When the legal hurdles to travel are overcome, there’s always the risk of picking up COVID while hopping from a city to another to find yourself stuck in another superimposed state of suspension (worthy of Zuckerberg’s meta-exploitation) without any support system, until after you can test negative.