For many years I’ve dreamt of having my own country and being able to design it the way I think it should be. Not likely to happen, I know, but it’s a fun thought experiment.
One area I was thinking about the other day is immigration policy. Any nation thrives when it’s able to attract foreigners who are willing and able to contribute something valuable. So we want them. And we want the best we can get.
Most countries have this weird stance about immigration where the rules are very unclear, the system is very bureaucratic, the consulars are not being very helpful, and applicants are being treated disrespectfully.
How about we turned it on its head?
In my country, there would be an up-front fee for entering into immigration discussions (non-permanent as well as permanent). Large enough to cover our costs, but not much more than that. Say $500.
That would get you a personal service agent, whose job it was to figure out whether there was a viable path for you to obtain your visa status. Their job is to help you, within the guidelines for the kind of profile we’re looking for.
Then if it looks like there’s a match, there’ll be a larger fee, and the process can start in earnest. Maybe you need to provide documentation, money, business plans, get a job, whatever. The fee can be largeish, like $5,000, but the good news is that you’ve been pre-screened, and the understanding is that you will get a visa, provided you can meet the requirements.
Then when the visa is issued, we’d give you a nice welcome package, like you’d do to a new hire in a job – a book, chocolate, flowers, something special for our country – and then help you get set up with bank accounts, ID cards, and whatever else is needed to be fully functional in my country. And then we’d be out of your way again. We don’t want to big brother you, just want to make sure you feel welcome.
The idea is to treat the applicant with respect and design the whole process around the assumption that he or she is going to be a valuable asset to our country.
A utopian fantasy? Perhaps.
But why not?