Gateway to an expat world
If you ask a dozen expats what is the single most nerve-wracking event in the expat life, I would bet that “visa day” would come up several times at least. I just had my yearly one on Thursday. I get to stay!!
One of the most important bits of practicality in an expatriate’s life in their visa. No, not the credit card, though those come in handy sometimes too. I mean the bit of shiny paper and a stamp in your passport that states that the local government allows you to stay/study/work in their country.
It is annoying that governments control their borders and build up big bureaucratic barriers to entry in some places. The reality unfortunately is that they do. And to get over these barriers and get a visa for your stay is a pretty big accomplishment. While I have never been denied and I have a stable job, I was still nervous. I didn’t realize this until after it was all done.
..it was a cold and windy Thursday morning..
I went by the office service point for an appointment a few weeks ago. I was given a very early appointment at 8am on a Thursday. I hoped this meant no long wait and that I could get to work on time.
So the night before I went to bed early so that I could drag myself out of bed in time to shower and eat something. That Thursday happened to be pretty frosty. Despite which I decided to ride my bike so I didn’t have the timing of public transit to worry about. Peddling across the still sleepy town, my mind was racing. Did I leave enough time? Did I have all the papers? Would my “photo box” pictures be ok? Would there be a problem?
Whirling around in my head were tons of thoughts and fears. I quite like living here and it would be a big deal to have to leave; or perhaps even bigger deal to figure out how to stay. I have dealt with worse and would make something wonderful out of either decision, but I want to stay. In the end, the meeting took 15 minutes in total. Hand over my last few months pay stubs and health card for copies… and then she put the pink page into my passport. This time for 2 years and with fewer restrictions as before.
Yay, so it was a 15 minute bureaucratic meeting. Akin to getting a driving license renewal in complexity, but with this I can continue my expat life that I have come to enjoy. Oh, and one less thing on my mind.
To you other expats, do you remember your “visa day”s?
November 20, 2010 @ 8:55 pm
That’s great news…must give you peace of mind for awhile at least. Mine is coming up in February and I have to say right now I’m terrified I won’t find a way to stay here.
November 21, 2010 @ 8:43 am
2 years is a long while, so yes. I imagine that I will find plenty of other stress in those years though. Ooo good luck for February.
November 19, 2010 @ 8:33 pm
I’m in my third year here in Germany, and I remember every single trip to the visa office so far! Luckily they’ve all been relatively pleasant experiences, and have never taken more than half an hour. But that doesn’t stop me from being at least a little bit nervous each time. 😉
November 21, 2010 @ 8:42 am
Good to know I’m not alone. We joke about it being the Office of Foreigner Prevention; but like you I have had really good experiences.
November 19, 2010 @ 8:28 pm
I’ve been an expat in Paris for 5 years. Luckily I have a 10 year carte de sejour so don’t have to do the annual renewal like so many expats here in France. I feel like I’m ready to change countries and Germany is on my list of possible destinations. You’re living in Germany aren’t you? Do you like it there?
November 21, 2010 @ 8:41 am
Yup, I live in Germany, but very near the French border. I do like it here. I don’t know much about Paris, but I can well imagine that Germany would be a big change for you. What kind of work do you do? Why are you looking to change?
November 21, 2010 @ 5:12 pm
I have an online business so can work from anywhere and wouldn’t need a work permit thankfully. I want to change cities just for a change really 🙂 I love Germany, it’s just the cold weather that puts me off living there.
November 22, 2010 @ 7:05 pm
It depends on where you go and how big a city you need to live in. I don’t really think much of Germany as much colder than Paris. In fact I like that it doesnt seem to get boiling hot here. We just dont have the beaches.