Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Countdown to Our Visa Appointment

Last Wednesday, we rode the Ubahn to the Schöneberg district to visit our immigration attorney. She has a bright, spacious office on a side street near the Viktoria-Luise-Platz. It was a quiet, crisp afternoon and the city was blanketed in fresh snow. We were happily surprised that the clothing we had brought from LA was keeping us sufficiently warm in the below freezing air. So we were in good spirits and happy to finally meet Anne, who had been very helpful via email and phone while we were still in the US.

If we understand the language correctly, we're applying for an Aufenthaltstitels - a residence permit. In our case, this residence permit will also include the permission for me to work as a self-employed artist. Shannon, to her frustration, has to apply as my dependent/spouse. Ironically, according to Anne, Shannon's work permission will be broader than mine, allowing her to technically work almost any job in Germany. Whereas, I can only do artistic work. Anne says we will most likely be given 1 to 2 years permission to live and work in the country, and then we'll have to reapply and renew.

The requirements for this permit are pretty extensive:
- The basic documents - a completed application and our passports
- Proof of our civil status as a married couple. Our attorney asked us to get our LA county marriage certificate certified by the Secretary of State of California so that it's authenticity would be beyond question (it's called an Apostille, and you can get this certification for almost any document). We did that step a couple of months ago.
- Proof of health insurance coverage that meets German regulations. In our case we were advised to buy from a company called ALC. This insurer seems to be one of the only ones that a) we're allowed to buy because we're self employed and new to the EU; and b) meets the restrictions. It's barely affordable and it's coverage is so limited that it's almost useless, but it is our temporary solution to obtain our visa. After that, we can work on applying for better options.
- Proof of income and savings (work contracts and bank statements)
- Letters of intent from potential German clients (saying that they want to hire or commission my work)
- Letters of reference from past clients and such
- A concise CV
- Diplomas from university / art school
- A portfolio and any other materials (like samples of my published works) that prove that I'm an artist
- A fee (can't remember how much but it was a bit!)
- Two biometric photos each - we got these at a photo place after our visit with Anne

I think that's it? Well, we have TWO DAYS to make sure...

He had a hard time posing for pictures because he was so cold. Heh.

But I love the guy!

Yes, I love him so much that I want two nearly identical pictures of him. :D
He says, "Okay, can we stop taking photos now?" ;P

Can you see how red my fingers are? That was after having gloves off for a few minutes while taking photos. 

I could NOT get them to warm up!

snow resting on the branches

These kids were handling The Cold much better than we were...

Days to Visa Appointment: 2

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