Everyone knows that moving to a new country is both exciting and scary. When we started the moving process to Vienna, Coco and I knew we were leaving certain comforts behind. I had incredible friends, a great job, and the pride in knowing I’d never succumbed to the peer pressure that is Dunkin’ Donuts. I’d found my place in the harsh city of Boston. We’d survived two blizzards, witnessed the Marathon Bombing as residents, and beamed with pride when the Red Sox finally won the World Series after 106 years.
Our five year plan always included a move to Europe. After three years in Boston, our plans moved up with an incredible opportunity for my wife and I. Her bucket list city has forever been Vienna. The history, the food, the rich culture were all reasons to put it at the top of the list. So like I said, Vienna called and we certainly answered. That call then led us to the immigration process. WOW!! I am amazed at the amount of paperwork needed to make this move. What you don’t realize when moving to a new country, Austria, is they are serious about their process.
First, understandably, you need a few documents to prove identification. A birth certificate, if you don’t have your original, is easy to obtain. I sent for two copies, just in case. Current passport? Check! Marriage certificate, if married. Check! FBI background check? All clear! All things were falling into place. Then we get down to the details. Let me explain this thing called an apostille. This handy little piece of paper certifies that the document is legit. Seems simple until you realize that all the documents named above need to have one. Already ordered your birth certificates? Send ’em back to get that apostille. Have your FBI background check? Over night those and hope they will forward along to your wife in Austria so that your permit isn’t delayed. Marriage certificate from the county? Nope! Day trip to the capital in the state you got married to get your state certificate and hopefully apostilled in the same day. Needless to say, we’re sufficiently educated about documentation and authentication.
Second, let’s talk language. German, to be specific. In order to even apply for a residence permit as a spouse, I needed to prove a basic proficiency in German. My German vocabulary consisted of a swear word. One I used quite well, but certainly wouldn’t create a sense of proficiency with the Austrian government. That meant a class in my new language. Four weeks, five days a week, three hours a day. All this followed by a test. My residence permit rested on the ability to pass this test. No pressure.
Third, I had 90 days from the date I entered the country to pass my class and get my permit approved. Sounds simple when the permit approval process takes 4-8 weeks. The math is simple:
12 weeks – 4 weeks for class – 8 weeks for permit process = a tight deadline, but doable.
Oh wait, the classes begin on specific dates. Ok, so let’s adjust our math:
12 weeks – 2 weeks waiting for class to start – 4 weeks for class – 8 weeks max for permit process = insert perfected German swear word here!
You see where I am going? Yep. I headed back to the states for a few weeks to wait out the process. At this point most people might call the Magistrate and ask about the status of the permit. We did. The nice gentleman was so helpful. His answer you our question?
“It’s a maximum of 8 weeks, ma’am.” And true to the Austrian promise, I received my letter at the 8 week mark informing me that my permit approval went through. Exciting? Truly. Scary? Certainly! Worth it?? Worth every second of every day during those eight weeks. Not to mention that I am now familiar with more than a swear word in German.