Friday, November 15, 2013

So You Wanna Stay in Germany Longer Than 90 Days?

Yea, me too.

Since I moved to Germany in July, I’ve known that my tourist visa would expire in 90 days. Since then I have done hours and hours and hours of research on how to stay longer. The one solution that looked promising was to get a freelance visa. It’s also referred to as the artist visa or self-employment visa.

So the very first step is to register at a Burgeramt to get an Anmeldebestätigung. Basically registering in your town to say yo, I’m living here now. (You may need proof, like a lease agreement. All I needed was the name of my landlord.)

From there, get an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigner’s Office) to get a residence permit by way of the freelance visa.

When I went to get this appointment, my 90 days was to expire in the next few weeks. I couldn’t get an appointment for another 2 months. They said it is ok to stay in the country, but in the meantime, get all my paperwork in order.

Instead of recounting everything you need to bring and what you need to do, I’m going to give a shout out to the blogs/people that really helped me. Their stories are detailed here:

Travels of Adam
4 Day Visa
Confessions of a Refashionista
A Long Look
Old World Frontiers

So everyone above has varying stories, but in the end it seems to have worked for them in a relatively painless process.

It didn’t happen like that for me.

I prepared all my documents, brought along a translator and showed up to my appointment on time. When I sat down I handed over my (very professional looking) packet of documents and told the gentleman that I was interested in the freelance visa, he chuckled.

I looked at my translator and she took it from there. I sat it a room for an hour listening to two people speak German about my fate, while I looked like this the whole time:

She summarized what happened. I am technically a freelance writer, but I don’t make a sizeable enough income off that to sustain my time in Germany.

We had printed Dan’s bank statements and had him write a Letter of Financial Responsibility to let the man know that Dan was supporting me financially. The man said, “Yea, that’s great. But what happens when you break up in a week, and now you’re our (Germany’s) problem?”

I think the above success stories happened for 2 reasons. First, they are freelancers who actually make an income and can prove it, and second, many of them live in Berlin. Berlin is a big city with many artists and ex-pats living there. They see this type of thing all the time.

Who moves to Kaiserslautern to make it as an artist? Most non-German citizens are married to soldiers and are here because of orders. So the Foreigners Office hasn’t seen this type of situation before.

[We were told to “just get married” about a dozen times during this process]

The Solution
When I come back from the States in January, I have 2 options:

1. Take intensive German lessons and receive a year-long Language Visa
          a. But I am NOT allowed to get a job afterwards
2. Get a 3 month visa extension while I look for jobs (a 'support' visa)
          a. Sending written proof from potential employers that I am applying/interviewing

So, the outcome wasn't what I was hoping for, but I get to stay in the country, and that was really the overall goal.

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