Monday, September 14, 2009
2 days to go!
Well, here we are. We leave for the Czech Republic in 2 days! I cannot believe it! This summer has seemly gone by quite fast. I decided to take a break from packing to make my first blog post on our big move.
Unfortunately, by getting our tickets with sky miles we were only able to get the flight we needed by going through Delta Airlines. We will see how they compare to Lufthansa, as they are who we have usually used to fly to Europe. All ready the fees for baggage are a little irritating. Instead of the standard two bag policy, the 2nd bag now costs $50 each! An interesting detail to our flight is that our two Chihuahuas will be moving with us to Prague. They are small enough that they will be taken as carry-on for the cost of $100 for both of them in one bag. Thankfully my lovely wife took care of all the papers to bring them onto the airplane and into the country. :)
I was originally going to look for a job once we arrived in Prague and apply for a work visa using that job as my reason to stay in the country. U.S. citizens are allowed to stay in the Czech Republic for a period of 90 days without needing a visa. It used to be pretty simple for expats wanting to live in the Czech Republic. You used to be able to work during that 90 day period, jump the boarder for the day and get another 90 days stay. Sounded pretty easy while I was reading around some expats forums! There was only one problem...
The Czech Republic joined the Schengen Agreement in January of 2008. (Details of Schengen Treaty). Essentially, the Schengen Agreement joins most countries of Europe together in an agreement where there are no boarder checks within the member countries, there is standardization of visa forms, and most importantly, you can only stay in the Schengen area for a period of 90 days, then one must leave the area for an additional 90 days before they can return to Europe again. %*#@!
After learning this, we took a closer look into our situation and realized that my wife is still as Czech citizen, as she was born in the Czech Republic to two Czech citizens, and did not become a citizen of the United States prior to 1993 (I Think that is the correct date, but I am kinda wingin it :). After realizing this fact, we realized that not only can my wife attend school there without needing a student visa, but I can apply for Temporary Residency for the purpose of reunification of family!
The benefit to doing this over a visa is that 1. It is good for 5 years as apposed to 1, 2. It give me all the rights as a member of the E.U., including access to social services, education, etc. 3. Allows me to move to another country within the Schengen zone and have the rights of a citizen of that country, and 4. It allows me to obtain a job and leave a job like a normal Czech citizen. With a visa, if you loose your job (laid off, fired, quiet, etc.) you loose your right to be in the country and you must leave the Schengen zone within 30 days. Another benefit is that with a visa, you are only legally allowed to visit other Schengen countries during your first 3 months in country, or during a constant stay in the area for a period of one year. A temp. res. permit allows you to travel to other Schengen countries whenever you like.
My only real issue now is trying to get everything in order. Multiple calls and e-mails to the Czech Embassy have gone unanswered. When I have been in contact with something, they were not able to provide me with any answers and simply stated that the foreign police in Czech would be able to help me. An internet search turned up that the foreign police rarely speak English and are usually in a bad mood. Hooray for me! We will just see how thing turn out a guess. My big question is that if I get 3 months to stay in the country without a visa, what happens if the process of obtaining a visa is longer than I can legally stay? Do I need to leave the Schengen zone for a while until my Visa is approved? Is there an extension I can file? No one has the answer! I may have to contact some friends in Ireland or England and see if I can crash on a couch for a few weeks! The unknown worries me...
Besides that, I have to make sure that all the documents are in order, certified by an Apostille (top dog certification from the Secretary of State), make sure all the documents are translated into Czech and certified that the translation is correct, make sure I have ample health coverage, and pretty much get all the other little requirements together as needed.
Mood: Excited, Stressed, Worried, and Excited :D
My next post should be coming to you via an i.p. in the Czech Republic!