Dual Citizens

This past weekend, Denisa and I took the family down to New York City for a quick there and back again trip that’s been a long time coming. When we were first married, all our attention was on getting Denisa her US citizenship. It was a long process, filled with many hoops to jump through and fees to be paid, but we got through it all after . . . five years or so? I can’t honestly remember.

But once we had children, we always wanted them to get their Slovak citizenship to go along with their American passports. Naturally, that took quite a bit of hoop jumping and fee paying as well. Denisa’s been the driving force behind it all, and while she and the kids were over in Slovakia this past summer, she got a lot of the process completed. It helped to have a person in Trenčín office who was actually nice and willing to help shepherd her through the process. Fun things like getting birth certificates officially translated and filling out the right forms and paying the right fees.

To top it all off, you have to go in person to the Slovak Consulate that oversees where you live in America. There are two consulates in the US. One’s in New York City, and one’s in Washington DC. (I’m glad we don’t live in California . . .) Maine falls under NYC’s umbrella, so that’s where we had to go. They have very specific windows when you can come. (Monday – Wednesday 10am-12pm and Monday – Thursday 2pm-4pm.) You make an appointment weeks in advance, and you’d better be there.

Since Tomas is essentially gone as of next Monday, we had a very small window to get this all completed. (We couldn’t make an appointment until we had the paperwork in hand, and that didn’t arrive from Slovakia until mid-August, at which point all of the August openings were full.) If we wanted the girls to miss as little school as possible, it would have to be the 12th.

It helps that I’m familiar with NYC and how to get around it. We drove down on Saturday and came home right after the appointment yesterday. Traffic was, as expected, a nightmare, but the actual visit at the consulate was very straightforward. Denisa had all her paperwork completed correctly, the person she submitted it to was nice, and a few photos later, it’s all complete. The kids should get their passports in the mail in a few weeks.

Of course, this is just the first step. From what I know in movies, people are really supposed to have at least six or seven passports, ideally with different aliases and a stack of cash in different currencies, all tucked into the floorboards of their house. But the way I figure, Denisa and I are providing our kids with a good head start toward that goal.

In all seriousness, I see this as very advantageous for my kids. As Slovak citizens, they are also EU citizens. They can travel, live, work, and retire anywhere in the EU, without restrictions. They have the chance to go to universities in the EU for free or reduced tuition. They have access to universal healthcare across the EU. Will they use any of these advantages? I have no idea, but they *could* use them if they want to. (Tomas certainly might, when he’s over in Slovakia for the next two years.)

Now the only trick is to keep renewing those passports, as if they lapse, you have to begin the process all over again. (Denisa actually had to do it for herself at the same time she was doing it for the kids. It’s not fun.) But the passports are good for 10 years for those 18 years old and up, and 5 years for those younger than 18. I suppose there are worse things than having to go to New York City every so often. (Especially if you can actually plan the trip in advance . . . )

And for those of you wondering if I could become a Slovak citizen: yes, if we lived in Slovakia for 5 years, I could. It’s harder for a non-Slovak than for a Slovak, obviously . . .


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