Friday, July 01, 2005

WOBB certificate of excellence

I get annoyed by WOBB, well OK I should really say that I get annoyed by WOBB that gets in my way...

This means that if WOBB suits my purposes or enough others (see I'm not all selfish...) then I'll quite happily let it exist, support it or even help it proliferate! This is especially true for MITP (see future lessons).

It really annoys me though when it serves nobody's purpose other then providing a couple of people with jobs. Here I'll pick an example from outside the corporate WOBB. Here's how the residence permit system works for EU citizens within Sweden...

The basics about the European Union: Brilliant! I can work pretty much anywhere within the EU being a Dutch citizen. So I move to Sweden because I want to work there.

Fine, sure, no probs, but please apply for a residency permit.
Que?
Yes, every person wanting to settle in Sweden has to apply for a residency permit.
But I'm a EU citizen, I don't need one!
No, you don't need a work permit, you do need a residency permit. But don't worry you get one automatically because you've got a job, even better you get a permanent one!

Uhhh, OK, weird, but I fill in a relatively simple form, send it off, and yes, a couple of weeks after arriving in Sweden I get this little white card in an envelope: Permanent residency permit valid until Jan 6th 2006.

...

Uhh, hold on, permanent and then valid until in the same sentence??? What the? Time for a phone call...

Hello, sorry to bother you, but I don't get the meaning of the word permanent on my residency permit.
Yes?
Well how can it be permanent and then only be valid for 5 yrs?
Oh that is standard, just to ensure that your status hasn't changed so that you might no longer be eligible for permanent residency.
Uhh, but as an EU citizen, you can't throw me out of the country after I have resided in Sweden for more than 2yrs, no matter what I do, job no job, sick or healthy, thief, murderer or law abiding citizen, it doesn't matter.
That is true, but you still have to renew your residency permit.
Uhh, why? Or actually never mind that, what happens if I don't?
Well we assume you have left the country and remove your personnummer (social security number) from our system.
Annoying (you need the damn number for pretty much everything in Sweden) but that also means I wont be paying taxes anymore either or?
*Laughter from the other side of the phone* Well no sir, the tax people keep their own records and it's actually your employer who pays the taxes on your behalf. But you can't claim any back if you've paid too much, for that you need to be registered with us... (at this point I can hear a hint of satisfaction in his voice)

So it basically comes down to this: This brilliant WOBBer at the immigration office has created a loop in the system which keeps him/her/them in a job indefinitely, and there is no legal way or even easy illegal way of circumventing this persons brilliant application of WOBB. If it wasn't so damn annoying I'd congratulate the bastard who came up with the idea and shake his hand, now I just want to break that same hand so it's painful for them to pick up the renewal form...

The final stroke of brilliance: you do not get a reminder, nada, niente, niks, noppes. So after 4yrs and 10months you have to remember this piece of plastic you long ago chucked in some dusty file cabinet. Figure out who to call, and what papers to fill in and renew, or else...

One little silver lining: the whole thing doesn't cost me a penny, not a single ├Âre... no surcharges, not even a stamp to post the form.

Lesson to be learned about WOBB: Working within government agencies you can use laws to create an almost unbreakable chain of WOBB providing you and you colleagues with employment well past your pensionable age...

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