Oh residence permits… I so missed writing about you. The drama, the intrigue, the will-they or won’t-they…
But here we are. It’s been about two and a half years since I wrote one of these posts and the time has come to once again partake in the joys and wonders of German bureaucracy. Here’s what we know so far…
H: me, still in Germany, still wanting to be here, still paying taxes, still thinking someone knows what’s going on.
BV: still helping me navigate arenas of German bureaucracy that a normal German citizen never has to deal with, and therefore often as confuzzled as I am.
Fr. C: my former Beamter*, responsible for doing all my paperwork and issuing my visa in 2014. Now onto something else, presumably, which is probably best for her.
Shiny New Herr (SNH): my new Beamter, who I will saying nothing further about lest risking a karmic smackdown.
Landkreis Fürth, 2014
Fr. C (paraphrased): your new permit is good for two years. If you do anything different for work, you must let us know. Since you are now registered in our system, you’ll receive all your paperwork automatically next time you are ready to renew.**
H and BV: thank her profusely and skip out door to not worry about nonsense for two more years, confident in the fact that German efficiency would deliver the appropriate documents to our door in about one year and nine-ish months.
Landkreis Fürth, mid-2016
H: my permit is up in November, so we should get something in September or so, don’t you think?
BV: yeah that’s what she said last time.
Landkreis Fürth, October 2016
H: soooo, we still haven’t gotten anything… it’s up next month, and we’re supposed to go to the States in December. That seems really short. Maybe we should email Fr. C or call her?
BV: probably, let’s send her an email.
*crafts email and hits send*
H: uhoh… guess who just got a ‘this person doesn’t exist’ auto-reply?
*checks Landkreis website*
H: ummm… Fr. C is no longer on here. And there’s no contact info for a new person. That seems… ominous.
*a flurry of phone attempts and emails to assorted addresses that WERE listed follows*
Landkreis Fürth, November 2016
SNH (via email): we don’t normally do this by email but I will give you an appointment in December and we can discuss your travel plans.
H: we’ve had tickets to Wisconsin booked since APRIL. If there’s a possibility that we can’t go, what are we going to do?
BV: I don’t know. I don’t get this.
Landkreis Fürth, December 2016
BV: Fr. C told us two years ago that the information would be sent automatically but we didn’t get anything.
SNH: well not yet, it would have come.
BV: but her permit was up last month?
SNH: yes. And it takes 6-8 weeks to process the new application.
BV and H: ????
SNH: so we’ll give you a temporary extension for four months, you can travel with that and we’ll start processing the new application. You’ll get information about your next appointment and what you need to bring with when it’s ready. That’ll be €30.
BV: is there anything that we can do to make this easier? I mean, it would be better if we didn’t have to do this so regularly every few years (nervous laughter).
SNH: sure. If she had a normal working contract, not a freelance contract. Or get married. I’ve never had a case like this.***
*BV and H leave office*
H: is that normal advice? Doesn’t seem like they should run around recommending marriage as a means to an end here.
BV: yeah but a working contract would be nice.
H: true. And why don’t they send the stuff in advance if they know it takes that long to process? Shouldn’t it go out in advance?
BV: that made no sense.
Which brings us to…
Landkreis Fürth, April 2017 (I think you know where this is going)
H: okay, now my extension is up at the end of this month and we still haven’t gotten any new information.
BV: I’ll give them a call
*BV calls at the beginning of the month. SNH is on vacation (naturally) for Easter and won’t be back until the 18th. His colleague however, digs out my file.*
SNH’s colleague: I have her file but it doesn’t say anything. But I’ll send you an email with the usual documents that are needed for the next appointment. You can gather them and then get in touch with SNH when he’s back.
Landkreis Fürth, April 18th, 2017
BV: hi I’m calling about Frau H’s application… the extension is almost up and we still haven’t… uhuh…. uhuh…. super…. uhuh….. okay, yes let’s do that.
*BV gets off phone*
BV: okay… we have an appointment next week and we can bring all the things that were in that email. But SNH applied for the longer-term permit this time and he hasn’t gotten it back yet.
H: longer-term? Like… the permanent residence one?
BV: I think so.
H: well that explains the thing about the retirement insurance. But…
BV: permanent would be great, right?
H: yeeeeees. Yes it would. But I didn’t even really think that was an option.
BV: why not?
H: because I haven’t looked into it in ages, and it seems like every time I read the account of someone else getting it, it was like… a THING. Yeah I’ve been here more than five years but there were interviews. Copious paperwork, language tests… I don’t have any of that stuff. There’s no way he could just request it, and ta-da! That’s way too easy. I was planning on another 2-year extension and then see what happens. Plus, I’m freelance and that further complicates things. And what happens when that gets rejected? Can we just get a 2-year one instead? Or do you get one application at a shot and then I have to go?
BV: I have no idea, but we’ll see what he says.
So that’s where we are at the moment. Would I be goddamned delighted to have an unlimited residence permit? You bet your sweet ass I would. But my pessimistic side thinks that there is no way in God’s green earth that this could possibly happen nearly completely by accident. Even writing this feels slightly like tempting fate but this is how it goes sometimes… and that’s what blogs are for. Which means that I’m just sitting over here pressing my thumbs, and waiting.
If you made it through all of that, I commend you, you trooper. And for that, you shall be richly rewarded with a picture of Marry die Katze enjoying the spring air on her personal balcony.
Disclaimer: this is merely my experience. I have never met two foreigners here that have had the same (or even close-ish) experience when dealing with this nonsense. The only other non-married, non-contracted Americans I’ve run across have had EU passports, which I only resent slightly, the lucky bastards. You can ask me for advice on these things but as you can read above, it’s basically the blind leading the blind, stubborn persistence, and a dash of dumb luck.
*Beamter = public official
**Because my previous residence permit had been issued by the city of Nürnberg, we were mistaken in thinking that my registering a new address in a new city would be relayed to the foreigner’s office. We had to call them to get my renewal started, whereas in Nbg my renewal information had come automatically after the first year. See more on that whole friggin’ circus here.
***I’m hoping that this statement was due more to his relatively young age than anything else. I’m hardly the only freelance foreigner in this country.