Articles Of JUST Advisors

Psychology of temporary residence permit

Psychology of residence permits

Sofo Khizanishvili, Head of Migration at Just Advisors, spoke to Natalia Slovesnikova, psychologist, psychotherapist, founder of a psychotherapy training platform, about the psychological side of obtaining a residence permit.

Sofo Khizanishvili: Natalia, hi. Thank you for agreeing to meet. When I was preparing the material on the topic of residence permits, I noticed how differently people treat this issue. Someone is in a hurry to apply, even sometimes too much in a hurry. Someone on the contrary postpones. Someone refuses to receive it at all, afraid, doubts. And I was puzzled.

Natalia Slovesnikova: Hi, Sopho. I'm very happy to talk about this. The psychology of relocation, emigration and generally any kind of relocation is an interesting topic for me. Both professionally and personally.

SH: Yes, you did move to Georgia.

NS: Yes. And I hope that what I will tell you from a professional point of view will help Jast subscribers to better understand their attitude to the topic of obtaining a residence permit and make a meaningful choice.

SH: Where should we start? Maybe with why there are such different attitudes?

NS: This is a great question, the answer to which may surprise many people. In fact, everyone's attitude is the same. The same in the sense that in each of us there is both that part of us that wants to get a residence permit as soon as possible, and that part of our personality that fears, postpones, makes us refuse.

SH: You mean it's an internal struggle?

NS: Yes, that's exactly what it is. Moreover, the forces are equal. Who will win depends largely on what our attention will be focused on at any given time. On potential benefits or risks. It's like physical pain. If all my attention is focused on what hurts, the pain will feel worse. If I manage to scatter my attention to other issues, the pain will feel less. That's how our brain works. The focus of attention is only partially dependent on our willpower. Much is determined by context: the general news background, what's being talked about in our environment, what else I care about.

SH: So people who are in a hurry to get a residence permit, sometimes so much so that we have to convince them to postpone, are focusing on some kind of "pain"?

NS: Yes, you could put it that way. It's a common, universal emotional pain. When you find yourself in another country, you feel insecure in one way or another, you feel defeated in rights compared to the citizens of the country.

SH: But a residence permit still doesn't equalize that anywhere.

NS: Of course it does. But a residence permit is an opportunity to feel a little more secure. A little more rooted. Let's say a citizen has 10 opportunities, and with a residence permit there are only 3. Yes, 3 out of 10 - maybe not so much, but it is exactly 3 more than zero.

SH: You can do the math.

NS: Not really. Nobody counts it that way, of course. If people were that rational, psychologists would be out of work. But each of us has an internal accountant who somehow reconciles debit and credit. It feels like "it got better" or "it will get better" when we plan to get a residence permit.

SH: Is that why a lot of people are in a hurry?

NS: Exactly. It's perfectly normal to want it to get better much sooner. A residence permit is not some kind of guarantee, of course. But it's a little more certainty.

SH: That you're not "on bird's rights" here....

NS: Exactly. "Bird rights" is a very high level of uncertainty. And uncertainty is exactly what's hardest to bear. It affects everyone and everybody. There are individual differences, everyone has a different threshold, but everyone has a threshold of tolerance.

SH: I think I'm beginning to understand. But if we talk about residence permit in Georgia specifically, its advantages include the fact that you don't need to make a visa, you can get visas and you can go to some countries by car with Georgian license plates, as well as the possibility to open a bank account faster, and after a certain period of time to get a residence permit or citizenship.

NS: You forgot about the fact that in some stores you can get discounts only if you have a binadroba.

SH: Well, that's nothing!

NS: Yes, when you decide whether or not to get a residence permit, of course it's nothing. But when you find yourself in a store like this, psychologically it's not nonsense at all.

SH: Emphasizes that you don't have any opportunities...

NS: Yeah.

SH: But you have to be in a store like that. Still people don't think about it in advance.

NS: Sure. We think about the obvious things, you listed them.

SH: If you think critically, they may not be important to everyone. Some people will say, what's the big deal, I'll make a Visaran.

NS: Yeah, yeah, I don't have a car, but I can fly home for a visa.

SH: Something like that.

NS: It's not about visaran, car or visa. It's not about how much you need them right now. It's about how much you own your life. It's about what is your opportunity, where your boundaries of freedom are.

SH: Visaran is a limitation, of course.

NS: Yes. And it is psychologically felt even by those who travel a lot. It would seem that I go somewhere a couple of times a year, the stay is zeroed out. But if I get a residence permit, even a one-year one, it is plus a year of freedom, I can within these limits to dispose of their schedule. Then apply for an extension and again be free to plan my trips.

SH: And the visa?

NS: Same thing. I may not plan to go anywhere. But the very fact that I'm not locked within visa-free countries gives me a sense of extra freedom.

SH: Also with a car.

NS: Yes.

SH: More freedom... But then why do a lot of people put it off, don't apply? Money? Duty plus lawyers' fees.

NS: Money, of course, plays a role, but it's not about money. Moving to another country is a lot of new expenses, often the costs of a residence permit are not so noticeable in the total amount. I think you know that from clients.

SH: Exactly. And often those who are deferring are not, shall we say, limited in funds. But...

NS: Yes, money can't be discounted. Of course, even the most affluent person thinks, can I spend $450 right now

SH: In the summer we have about 300.

NS: Oh, super. It's about something else, though, of course.

SH: That there are no guarantees?

NS: Yeah. But it's not a financial risk. Money is essentially a reflection of our deeper experiences.

SH: You mean people don't worry about money?

NS: They do. But if you measure it in worries, everyone has a different psychological value for every dollar.

SH: The conversion rate.

NS: Yes. Because what we really worry about is not so much the money itself, but the hopes with which we spent that money.

SH: But what does that have to do with postponing the IOU?

NS: It's pretty simple. We tend to take a lot of things personally. The IOU is no exception here. Few people think about the fact that there are a lot of applications piling up for a department that is not very large. There are people working there, very different people. Yes, there is a system that minimizes the influence of the human factor. In Georgia, as far as I understand, there are clear criteria. Besides, it is generally impossible to have a situation where someone forgot something, lost something, didn't send it somewhere.

SH: Yes, it works clearly here.

NS: It's a question of the system. The system is built in such a way that you have to follow all the rules clearly, carefully, down to the smallest comma.

SH: Yeah, that's what we do.

NS: Yes. And that's the part that I can influence. I can do everything 100% exactly according to the regulations, I can make sure that everything is in place wherever I can. It's not a guarantee at all, but it's a guarantee of the part that I influence. But there is, of course, another part. There are state interests, there is just a banal human factor. I can't influence that.

SH: But people are still rarely so divided.

NS: That's exactly right. We tend to perceive approval or rejection, whether it's personally to ourselves, whether it's given or not given to me personally. And we inevitably take it to mean that I'm welcome or not welcome here.

SH: Is that why people are afraid to apply for a residence permit?

NS: Yes. There is a risk of being rejected. If I am rejected, I automatically start thinking something like: "Oh! I am not welcome in this country". I'm going to look for something else in the news that will confirm this hypothesis. I'm sure I will. But the truth is something else entirely.

You know, there's a huge body of research on how judges rule in the United States. It started with analyzing parole cases.

SH: Yeah, I remember that. Everything seemed to depend on how much time was left before lunch.

NS: Yes, "the box just opened." It's not just about the judges. We'll make one decision in the morning, a completely different one at lunchtime, come to one conclusion on Monday - and a completely different one on Thursday. Feeling hungry, the weather, a birthday, losing to your favorite team.

SH: It would be interesting to see what the decisions were on Monday....

NS: And compare it to the day after Georgia's Euro exit.

SH: Oh. But how do people take that into account?

NS: They don't. That's the whole point. All of our difficulties start with trying to calculate what can't be calculated.

SH: Instead of just preparing the documents.

NS: Exactly. Any system that employs people, no matter how perfect it is, is still tied to human error. It's a risk, an objective risk. Can I influence someone's mood? No.

SH: It's hard to influence the mood of your loved ones, and then there are people you don't know.

NS: Of course. Who knows what team they root for? Or maybe they're not interested in sports at all. But even if we assume a general rule about the same soccer. Can I influence how a soccer game plays out? No. Can I influence whether the inspector reviews my application for a residence permit before or after lunch? No. But what I can really do are two fundamental things.

SH: What are they?

NS: First, to separate what is called the grain from the chaff. Any decision positive or negative has to do with me personally only in terms of formal criteria. My task is to do everything accurately. In the case of residence permit, to make sure that there are grounds, and to fulfill the instructions as clearly as possible. It is clear, not being a lawyer and not speaking Georgian, it is not necessary to turn to those lawyers whom I am ready to trust.

Second, remember that "fear has great eyes." We are all inherently self-centered, and we also all have imaginations. Therefore, it takes an effort of will to remind myself that I do not know who and in what mood will consider my application. Of course, anything can happen. It's normal to be afraid, to worry. But it's important not to let fears limit potential opportunities. The weather forecast isn't always right, but we don't carry an umbrella around with us all the time just in case. That's uncomfortable. It's the same here. If I have reasons to get a residence permit, if I can spend time and money on it now, I will do it.

SH: Not looking at statistics? We usually tell clients that the general statistics are this, we have this....

NS: Of course you do. You have to, scientifically speaking, make friends with reality. I'm sure people come to Just with different requests, some from the realm of fantasy.

SH: It happens. That's what we say in such cases.

NS: Surely, someone gives up their idea, and someone says: "Let's give it a try".

SH: Exactly.

NS: That's what realism is. I'm just sufficiently aware of probability. There's a probability of meeting an elephant on Rustaveli, isn't there?

SH: Well.

NS: There is, of course. You may or may not meet it there. It's just that the probability of meeting it is extremely small. It's the same here. What is the probability of getting a residence permit at all? Here are the general statistics. What's the likelihood of getting a residence permit with the right application? Here are Just's stats. If you understand a little bit what processes are bubbling up in all of us, what the internal scales of decision-making look like, it gets easier.

SH: And we need to remember that not everything is rational in our decisions.....

NS: Yes. And respect that. We're not robots. We have feelings, experiences. We want something, we fear something. Some things we're rightly afraid of and some things we exaggerate. It's important to just keep that in mind.

SH: Thank you so much. I'm really glad I decided to talk to you before writing, so to speak, about the rational side of things.
Life in Georgia