The privilege of U.S. citizenship
The benefits of my nationality struck me again, this time while applying for a UK visa.
The U.S. is on the UK’s short list of nations whose citizens enjoy fewer materials required for visa applications. For example, I didn’t have to (though I did out of paranoia) provide bank statements proving I could pay for a year in London. Basically, there are 313.9 million people pledging allegiance to the U.S., and the UK generally trusts them all when they say, “Yes, I can afford to live in Great Britain’s exorbitantly expensive city for an entire year.” In reality, that’s an enormous assumption. (And, um, I guess we’ll soon find out just how accurate.)
This is one of those rare occasions I remember I’m lucky to be here and how complex diplomatic relations affect me in ways I rarely register. It reminds me how most people in South Korea right now are desperately trying to master English; meanwhile, I was born arbitrarily into the lingua franca of the day and probably slaughter its grammar rules all day. It reminds me how my mom sees hundreds of non-citizens fighting for asylum in this country every year; meanwhile, I’m traipsing across the Atlantic, working on my visa application for two days tops before I’m granted visa permission a week later. It wasn’t even enough time to start worrying.
The point is, I got lucky being a citizen of this country at this particular moment in history. This is by no means a comment on citizenship in any other country, because I haven’t lived enough lifetimes or lifestyles to say. All I know is the older I get, the more I realize that by virtue of my USA nationality stamp, there are way fewer hoops I must jump through to get the things I want – something for which I should live with more gratitude on a daily basis.