Monday, October 6, 2008

My long and winding road to temporary residency in the Czech Republic

I knew when I came here to the Czech Republic that I could stay 90 days, and apply for a long term visa in order to stay the rest of the time... approximately 7 months.
SO, of course I wait too long to research ALL the details, and so did Andy, and last Sunday I start researching what I need to take to the office, etc, because, as I was surprised to find, Monday, October 6th, would be day 90 for me.

It turns out that I should have:
a) registered with the foreign police when I first got here, within 3 days, and
b) I should have applied for this long term visa WHEN I WAS STILL IN NY (which I think is a little ridiculous).

BUT, I can still apply for it, but I have to go to this terrible office, the only one for Prague's 12 or so districts (as opposed to the towns outside of the city), where apparently you have to get on line at like 2am, as well as sign up before closing the previous day to be seen, and then when the office opens at 7am, some Russian mafia guys come out and reorder the line, and would likely put little me at the back, and all kinds of other seedy individuals at the front, because that's kind of how lucky I am.

If I do not go to the foreign police and file and application, and don't return home immediately, then I would be illegal. When I finally would leave, I would be fined, banned from the Schengen zone (which is the CR and several other EU countries that are all essentially one state and borderless - no passports are checked) for three years. IF they check my passport when I leave. And if they do, this would all happen IF the guard wanted to do it. Otherwise I could get lucky and just waved through. It happens.

So, Andy and I are thinking, well, instead of dealing with the foreign police, I could leave the Schengen zone and then come back. New stamp in the passport, it's all good. It "resets" my stay here. We were all excited, planning a quick 24 hour jaunt to Switzerland, then I found out that when I leave the Schengen zone, I can't come back for 90 days. There goes that idea.

So, I can't be illegal, that would be way too embarrassing if I was taken into a back room when trying to board my flight. Not to mention, I'd surely miss my flight. And have to reschedule, and sit around at the airport... awful.

And I can't leave and come right back. And I really don't want to deal with the Prague foreign police office and their Russian mafia goons...

And then Andy's mother suggests the golden idea: I can apply for a temporary residence visa and say I am staying with Andy's brother, David, who lives outside of Prague, where the office is friendlier, smaller, easier and way more helpful. And I will actually be seen. (And we do split our time between Andy's parents house in Prague and David's, so it's not lying...)

So... the process is moving along. We're preparing. Andy's on the phone with them and the woman on the phone asks what my purpose is for being in CR? Andy says I'm just here, visiting. And she's like, no no, there has to be a purpose for her being here. Finally, Andy says, she's my wife! and she's all, ohhhh, ok, you just have to bring your original marriage certificate when you come, as well as ID, and we can get the process rolling.

Of course, we don't have our marriage certificate.

It's in a safe, WE THINK, that we left in New Paltz. Of course, my mom isn't there on this day, it's now Monday, Rosh Hashana, and she wasn't planning on going. But I've got 7 days left of being legal, not to mention the bad Prague office is open Mon-Thu and the nice small town office is only open Mon and Wed, so... wonderful mother of mine drove up to New Paltz to get our marriage certificate and sent it FedEx priority to to us. And she had to fax a copy on Tuesday for it to be translated, while we waited for the original.

Such drama.

FedEx say it will be there by Wednesday, end of business day. But it's not. By 12:30 Thursday we are freaking, because when we tracked it it said delivery time by 12 on Thursday, but now it's after 12 and they've taken that off the tracking page... and Andy calls, and... don't YOU always insure something when you send it? SO, mom had written the value as $50 and wouldn't you know that in the CR if a package is worth more than $25 then it has to go through CUSTOMS and we have to produce a commercial receipt, because we are now considered IMPORTERS????

Anyway, we dealt with a nice guy at FedEx who was able to change the value or something, and it finally came Thursday night, and we went yesterday morning to the "good" office, which was AWESOME and there was no wait, and of course we had what they had told us to have: marriage certificate (original and translation), both our passports, photos for ID, appropriate forms... and translated insurance... wait - TRANSLATED one had said we needed that for a temporary residency visa. Sh*t.

Luckily, down the hall, God gave me an insurance agency where I was able to get some basic czech health insurance for 4 months, for $100. They are open, I get it, I run back to the lovely foreign police, and it gets done.

My application is in. I am legal for at least 60 more days. Hooray!!

I will return in 60 days to get my visa, or find out if my application has been rejected for some reason. If it is, then I will just come home. I will miss Christmas here in Prague, which would suck, but at least I got 5 months of good travel from it.

For the time being, I have a golden ticket (well, it's blah-tan, like recycled paper) that states I have applied for the visa, and therefore I am safe. And I thank god I didn't have to go to the scary "bad" office, where I have a feeling things could have gone very differently and I would probably be illegal and in hiding now, instead of planning my evening, where we will go out for dinner, and what time "Once" is showing at the Atlas.

(Awesome note: when trying to find the picture above, I happened upon an article about how bad the Prague Foreign Police offices and wait are. Great timing! Click here to read.)

1 comment:

  1. I can only imagine the amount of crying that was going on. I would have lost my mind.

    ps- I LOVE that you embedded links to other pages in your blog. Good job!