Monday, February 06, 2006

Residence permit obtained!

Can you believe it? I got married on Friday and the next business day, today--Monday, I received my residence permit in my passport. It is so wonderful that Germany is able to process a residence permit on the very same day. The whole process took about one hour. Including the German language test I had to take. I even have authorization to work in Germany now. Moreover, I did not even have to pay one Euro!!! I love GERMANY!!! I just hope the USA will catch up with the rest of the Western world and allow gay partners to sponsor each other for immigration purposes. I am just in "shock and awe." ;) And now a little about our mini-honeymoon to Amsterdam. We boarded our train from Duesseldorf to Amsterdam and departed the Duesseldorf Hauptbahnhof (main train station) at 08:40. We arrived in Amsterdam only two hours later. I tell ya, I love the train so much more than flying. If I can take a train, I will. You can reduce the stress level by about 98%. Any way, we arrived in Amsterdam and took the next tram from the Centraal Station to our stop, Prinsengracht-stop. We stayed at a gay-owned bed and breakfast, Hotel Amistad. It was nice and a very convenient location. I will skip all the details because I can tell ya it was GREAT! I now want to move to Amsterdam and open a bed and breakfast. The city is so cute. It is so interesting. There's so much to do. The coffeeshops, etc.

The government and their social policy is so right on. I think the rest of the world should adopt the Amsterdam way of life. I love it! Of course we visited some important sights, for example: The Van Gogh Museum, the Amsterdam Historical Museum, Dam square, the Flower Market, etc. Additionally, we took a canal boat tour. What a great idea. It is a good way to see the city quickly and easily. You don't have to walk too much and you can cover a lot of the city without worrying about riding a bike and dodging all the pedestrians. I did get a little sea sick when the tour boat went out into the harbor, but I recovered fairly quickly after we returned to land. Over all, this was a great trip and I highly recommend Amsterdam. I used to believe San Francisco was the best place on Earth, but now I am convinced it is Amsterdam. In my humble opinion, based on what I know and where I have been thus far, 1. Amsterdam, 2. San Francisco, 3. Montreal (in the summer,) 4. Vancouver, 5. etc....

I now I will attend the Sprachcaffee for this week and next. Then I will have to go to another language school because I received the list from the Auslanderamt today and the Sprachcaffee is not on the list. I am a little disappointed about this because I like my fellow students, the two instructors I have had thus far, the location, etc. However, I most likely will be going to the Goethe Institute in Duesseldorf at the Hauptbahnhof, right next to the U.S. consulate. The good thing is that I will be only one block from my new language school where as now I have to take the street car or walk for about 15 minutes. Additionally, the Goethe Institute has a good reputation and is even subsidized by the German government. Any way, enough for now. If you want to see photos of our trip to Amsterdam, click on my Flickr badge in the right-hand column..I will post some photos later to this blog, but is having problems uploading my photos right now. More tomorrow...


Blogger Dixie said...

Congratulations! That went really well, didn't it?

I noticed it's only good for one year. My first one was good for three years - do you know if they recently changed the rules? Did they say you'll get one that doesn't expire when you go to renew?

9:20 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Your trip sounded fantastic. I'm putting Amsterdam on my list now. Thanks for the info. And another congrats on your residence permit. Was the language test hard?

9:45 PM  
Blogger James said...

Dixie: Mine is good for only one year because US passport is only valid until JAN 2008. Had my passport been valid until FEB 2008 they would have issued it for two years with an automatic extentsion for one year, for a total of three years. Then I could apply for citizenship.

Lisa: The language test was verbal. As far as the German government is concerned I do not have to take another German course. However, I have that option and I am taking it so I can get the courses for a one Euro rate per hour. It saves me money and I can study German officially and become more proficient/fluent and get a job here some day...more later. Thanks for the comments.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Dixie said...

Okay. Makes sense.

They told you you could apply for citizenship after three years? Unless they've changed things recently I'm pretty sure you need eight years of residency before you can apply for citizenship.

11:59 PM  
Blogger EuroTrippen said...

It's been great reading your blog... we're due to arrive in Dresden on the 14th and I'm sure I'll be facing many of the same hurdles you recently have. Congratulations on your marriage & residency permit, and I can't imagine a better place for a mini-honeymoon than Amsterdam!


2:21 AM  
Blogger christina said...

Congratulations James!

Amsterdam is such a great city. I only visited for a couple of days but there's so much to see.

And yes, the Geothe Institut does have a very good reputation. When I was taking courses at the Volkshochschule, the tests we had to take came from there. It's a good idea to take all the German language instruction you can right now and sort of get learning the language over with. Then you can move on to other things and be really confident about your ability.

And Dixie's right - you have to wait 8 years to become a citizen. The three year residency would enable you to get your "unbefristete Aufenthaltsgenehmigung" which would allow you stay in Germany indefinitely even if your marriage broke down after the three year period. The permit you have right now depends on you being married to a German, which is your "reason" for being allowed to stay in Germany.

It's all so complicated. :-)

2:49 PM  
Blogger Expat Traveler said...

James I am beyond jealous! I'm doing my process here in Canada to immigrate. It's taken 3 months for paperwork and a whole lot of money later (yes more than your plane ticket to get to Dussledorf) and now I will wait for 4 months and hope that I will here word on how everythign is going. And also you get citz fast? Lucky dog. I do love Amsterdam and I love Europe. And I'm glad your starting to feel the same way. :)

5:05 PM  
Blogger Sparky said...


Good to hear you had fun on your trip!
Make sure the next city you guys visit is either
Prague, Vienna, or Strasbourg. I betche you will
love those, too.

- m.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Nyana said...

Congrats Sir!
I'm smiling vicariously through your accomplishments and happy news. You'll soon master the language, then all door will open. Your pics from Amsterdam are super, especially the one where you're flirting with the statues.(you know they're not alive, right?) ;)
I agree with Sparky on visiting Prague, Vienna, or Strasbourg. A definite must see. Stay happy, warm and smiling!

11:15 PM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

Loved the Amsterdam photos, James. It was 7 years ago when I was there for 2 weeks. Would love to go back. And I can definitely speak to Prague as another great city! I've been to Salzburg but not to Vienna or Strasbourg.

3:00 AM  
Blogger christina said...

Aha, I just checked again and it looks like you have to be here for 5 years before you can get a "Niederlassungserlaubnis".

10:32 AM  
Blogger Sparky said...

OH, and as for your "passport photo":
Don't you find the original iPod headphones annoying, too? When it's cold, they never stay in your ear. Those stupid "black socks" always come off. The cable is too heavy.

If you're as discontent as I am, and if you find a good alternative for less than € 30, give me a ring ;).

- m.

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Kim said...

Congratulations! I am planning a trip to Amsterdam and Germany in May with my husband and cannot wait! We are looking for fun things to do and found your blog. When we were in Paris we were able to spend a "day with a French housewife". That turned out to be awsome. She took us to the outdoor market, and did some shopping, and then took us home to cook a nice lunch with wine and conversation. We're looking for that kind of personal connection activity again... but am realizing it is more rare than we realized. Any suggestions now that you are back?

4:58 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Hey congratulations on the permit/marriage! Great that it went so smoothly.

About the language school: the Goethe Institute has a reputation, but in my experience it's not a great one. It's recognized by everyone BUT known for being overcrowded, overpriced and not as effective as smaller courses where you can get more attention. I suggest asking if you can sit in on the class you would be in and see what you think.

(I've had this feedback on Goethe courses in both San Francisco and in Germany.)

1:19 PM  

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