For the type of visas we need, there is only one time of year that we can apply.
This is now our 4th country in Europe. Russia, you can't even step foot in the country without a visa. Czech Republic requires a visit to a neighboring country to their Czech embassy to start the process (never knew why, but easy enough to drive to Vienna, Austria or Dresden, Germany) and then in a few months you show up to the visa office, sign some papers and your done. Of course, we had a Czech helping our colleagues that was knowledgeable in the area of visas to keep up with the laws. She was a godsend!
Spain was a little more complicated with every piece of paper you own needing an apostille (a special kind of stamp). Although lengthy and armed with more papers than they need, it wasn't so bad.
Austria, on the other hand, just doesn't make sense to me. Lots of paperwork was also required, but here's where it gets crazy. You are required to stand in line vying for one of 60 visa slots (or so we've heard it's 60) that are given that year for this particular visa. Doesn't sound so bad, right? Problem is, there is NO order.
Our visa has to do with the fact that we work in the country, but are paid outside of Austria and will not be working for an Austrian company, therefore will not be covered by their social care.
Seems to me they wouldn't mind these kinds of workers in their country. They don't have to pay us AND we are contributing to their economy. Right?!
In the past our colleagues have experienced some chaos in this process. It has boiled down to being whoever can throw their elbow the hardest gets in the door first.
The last 2 years have been a bit better. A lawyer representing certain clients have started a list of names of those who show up. It's a first come, first serve bases, based on when you arrive at the door. However, the visa office honored the list last year and we hoped it would be the same this year.
The line has gotten so crazy that it warrants an overnight stay.
In past years, our colleagues have shown up around 5 am to get in line. Unfortunately, we weren't so lucky. Some of our colleagues drove by the office late afternoon on January 1st and before 5 pm a line had already formed!! The plan had been to get in line at midnight. That was quickly changed when 20 people were already on the list at 5 pm. Jerry showed up at 6 pm and we were numbers 47-51 for each member of our family.
Y'all (and I don't use that term often, but this warrants it), y'all I am getting too old for this! Staying up all night!! My body does not do so well. Especially when I am required to take care for my kids the next day! Which, by the way, our kids spent the night with some colleague friends! They were not required to be there.....or so we thought. More on that in a minute.
The plan was for me to show up at about 5 am. I could do that, but the lawyer keeping "THE list" said if I didn't show up by 3 am I could be bumped for not being there in person IF a government official came by. Did I show up at 3 am? Yes I did (after 4 hours of sleep). Did a government official come by before 5 or even 7 am? No, one did not! Oh well!
Anyway, Julie and I hopped in a taxi and got there by 3 am. Insanity!!!
This is craziness! Now, I'm not saying that the US system or any other is without flaw (ha, that sounds funny)
Really? There is not a better system to standing out in the FREEZING, MIDDLE OF THE WINTER, COLD to get a CHANCE, not even a guarantee, for a visa slot?!
We did, however, have 2 cars nearby to get an occasional warm up and we did have access to bathrooms. But, wait! It doesn't stop there! Sounds so nice of them to give us access to bathrooms, right? Well, said bathrooms just happened to be located off of a HUGE foyer area!!! Were we able to sit in said foyer???? Nope!!
We sat out here.
That's Jerry under there. Keeping warm and getting updates on the Cowboy game. Ha!
Some of our colleagues. At least we could chat to pass the time.
See that BIG empty foyer in the background?!
Eight o'clock came. There was a bit of pushing and a bit of stress. People were walking in and not observing the line. Come to find out, many of them were there for other reasons. Oops! Things remained calm and "the list" of names were honored and we were called in order.
There was rumor that someone who put their name down before us actually turned in 15-20 applications. Grr! We have no idea if we made "the cut." We're not going to stress about it. God has a plan and we trust Him for these kinds of things. It's out of our hands. We've done what we can do.
As we were turning in the papers we learned that the law had changed and any child 6 and older had to be there in person because they fingerprint them!! Not only them, but us as well. Fingerprint a child?? Seriously?!
The workers were extremely nice and you know it's not their fault. They don't make these hideous rules! Grr!
We didn't walk out of there until 10:40 am. By the time we got something to eat......we were STARVING.....and picked up our kids, it was 1 pm. That's 20 hours that Jerry was doing this process, 10 for me. Crazy!
I updated my status on facebook describing our ordeal and an Austrian friend apologized that his country made us do this. How sweet is that?!
Do we know anything at this point? Nope! It will be 3-4 months before we hear a thing. And so, we wait......