So it’s hard to believe that I have been in Germany for almost three years! I mean, it definitely feels like I have been in Germany for a while….like more than a year….maybe two, but three!?
I got the reminder the other day from HR at work; they had asked if I had already started the extension process….to which I replied, “…..er, no………?” My temporary residence visa (or Aufenthaltserlaubnis in German) is only good for three years and the 31st of May is approaching fast. So I emailed the Foreign Office in Überlingen (Ausländerbehörde or Ausländerwesen….take your pick) and asked what I needed.
I got the following list:
– Pass (Passport)
– Ausgefüllter Antrag (Fill out form – provided by the Ausländerbehörde)
– Aktuelles biometrisches Passbild (nicht älter als 6 Monate) (New passport photo – no older than six months)
– Arbeitsbescheinigung des Arbeitgebers (Memo from Employer stating that you have been working for them and still are)
– Letzten drei Monatsabrechnungen (Last three month Pay Stubs)
– Arbeitsvertrag bzw. Ergänzungen zum Arbeitsvertrag (Work contract)
– Krankenversicherungsnachweis (Memo from Health insurance stating that you are covered and that your coverage is ongoing)
– Zertifikate über Hochschulabschluss (Higher education certificate – i.e. University Transcript)
– Zertifikate Sprachnachweis (language certificate)
– Mietvertrag (apartment contract)
I am insanely organized so it took no time to get everything together (including a quick E-Mail to HR for the Arbeitsbescheinigung and swinging by my health insurance to get their letter) and this last Monday I met with one of the very lovely ladies from the Ausländerwesen. She was suuuuuuuuuuuuper nice and extremely helpful.
You see, I hit a snag very quickly in my gathering of paperwork. Turns out, I actually don’t have a language certificate! Shit! I took two years of German at IU (Indiana University), whatever I could get through the Goethe Institute in Chicago (paid for by my company – and it turns out I did get a certificate from them – A1, VERY basic German – I need B1, so it’s a start but not enough), AND whatever courses the company here in Germany paid for only to discover that the tests I took with them were not official. But I have gotten enough lessons up to B1.
The point is, I don’t need a language certificate…..yet……I did give her the A1 because it is something and it is all I have at the moment (officially).
But wait, there’s more!
I know what you are probably thinking, “Aren’t you married to a German? Don’t you get automatic citizenship or something?”
So being married to a German does allow me to get my ultimate visa goal – the unlimited residence permit (or Niederlassungserlaubnis) but I have already been here via work visa so I have that option as well.
So let me break it down what was explained to me:
In order to qualify for a Niederlassungserlaubnis as a foreigner married to a German, I have to get the Aufenthaltserlaubnis off of this basis and live in Germany for another three years before I can apply (this technically would have been good to apply for when we first got married in 2015…but we didn’t so here we are).
I stick with my work visa and wait another two years (making my stay in Germany five years in total – since the requirement is paying into the German retirement system for at least 60 months – 5 years) and apply then.
So the lady’s advice: stick with the work visa. It’s faster and in the end you will have achieved permanent status all on your own and you won’t have needed a husband to do it. I shit you not, that’s what she told me!
But what about the language certificate? So some of the other requirements necessary for the Niederlassungserlaubnis is a B1 language certificate and a “Life in Germany” Test (i.e. integration course). The best part: I now have two years to get those done. There are hundreds of sites online to help me prep for the tests and I have lived here long enough to have a good base already so it’s literally a matter of simply signing up and taking the tests (which I plan to get done this summer, since summer appears to be when the next dates for testing are available). Until then, I just wait until my two years are up and then show that I still have health insurance and an unlimited contract with my current employer and I am golden!
What about those of you who have lived in Germany for a while? What have you had to do? What exemptions did you get (if any)?
Until then, just take a moment to appreciate that these requirement that I have to fulfill are brought to you by the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge….or BAMF.
bis nächste Woche!