Visa visa visa….

In Austria, How I got Here, Living Abroad by Carly4 Comments

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Eight months ago I was kicked out of Europe. Told in no uncertain terms that I had to leave and my continued presence in Austria was illegal. This was all told in Deutsch so the only things I took away from an intimidating meeting in a 1970’s era building was the words ‘nein’ ‘no’ and ‘illegal’. There is nothing worse than being completely helpless to control your own life.

Since then it has been a long, frustrating, confusing, emotional and stressful series of efforts to get me back here and able to live in Vienna. First I had to clear 3 months outside of the schengen zone, kicking around in London, working the UK & Ireland tour route 3 TIMES to wait out the allotted 3 months. Once we did get into the nitty gritty of getting my paperwork together and trying to figure out the contradictory information given by the Austrian government and Australian embassy it was a constant battle against misinformation and racing against time. Aussies are only allowed 90 days in the schengen reigon. Not a lot of time to meet all the requirements. The deadline provided a constant ticking clock of doom everytime we experienced a setback; My documents were originals, but not official enough. Our appointment was booked 2 weeks ago but not locked in. S had his passport as proof of citizenship but not his birth certificate. An endless round of roadblocks not outlined in any dot-point guide of how to apply to stay here.

To say it was stressful was an understatement. The process and chance of failure, the vision of being denied again, to be sent home and seperated haunted us both.I don’t think either of us had cried as much as we did in March when we realised there was absoloutely nothing we could do about my needing to leave.

The worst was the complete lack of concrete information, the feeling of helplessness, the sheer blindness with which we negotiated this process. We’re Gen Y kids, used to being in control, presumptive of our own importance in the world and right to a Happy Ending. The kicker was, we weren’t doing anything wrong, but at every turn it felt like we were in the wrong for proceeding to apply. Maybe it was my not understanding German, the intimidating buildings and endless forms that created this but it felt like we’d fallen down the rabbit-hole of Beauracracy, with no one to tell us whether what we were doing was wrong or right. Or crucially, whether it would work.

8 tortuous months. Days upon days of uncertainty, and limitation on the things I could progress with here – being unable to work sentanced me to days at home, researching jobs I can’t apply for.

Finally, today, I got the phone call. 11:09am. Requested to return to the magistraat office with passport and money. Building shuts at 12pm. Fastest shower of my life. S was at work in a meeting but this was too big to restrain from calling him. I gathered our coin collection – not knowing how much they wanted me to pay, and S having all our credit cards. Literally last person to enter the building at 11:47. The same blonde young woman who had collected my documents and created my file with all its difficult requests sat me down and (in German) explained the forms I was signing, checked my passport and finally, thankfully, miraculously, handed me my Red-White-Red card.

I thought I was relieved when Obama won. This was a different kind of relief. The months of stress, hard work, worry and endless unanswerable questions had led to this moment. Finally, finally I was free. Free to work, free to stay, free to start my integration meetings, free to travel, free to learn German, free to celebrate this with the man I love and did it all for. I still can’t quite believe it. To top it off, Vienna is shining today, the winter fog has lifted and the sun has been out for the last few hours.

I left the building after thanking this nameless woman for the mercy of letting me stay, and was last out as they locked up for the weekend. 12:03pm. In less than an hour my life had turned round. The despair I felt this morning about what the hell to do with another empty day had gone, to be replaced with endless opportunity and thankfulness at this chance. To learn, to be a resident of two great countries, to grow, to work, to change and embrace all the challenges coming my way.

But for this weekend, before the stress of finding work and learning German begins, I’m only going to enjoy the sheer relief of it all, and revel in the hope that it has given me. Aaaahhhhhhhh…….




  1. Hello,

    I am going through the same thing trying to get married to an Austrian and I have a question. I need to go back to my home state in the USA to get an apostille for my birth certificate but I don’t know if I need to have my birth certificate translated first and get the apostille on the translated German document or if I need the apostille on the original English document or on both. Did you experience the same thing?

    Any wisdom would be greatly appreciated, thanks

    1. Author

      Hey Anna! We got the apostille on the original Aussie document – the apostille is basically a verification that the doc is legit. So we only got it on th eoriginal copy of my birth certificate (which was a pain to get from Australia!). Also the Aussie Embassy couldn’t issue apostilles so it had to be done back home too. So crazy frustrating – but yeah, we just got the original apostilled. Please check with the embassy sources though as we did this way back in 2012 so can’t verify the details are still accurate!

  2. Hi there, I am a kiwi looking at potentially going through this same process in order to live with my Austrian BF. Thank you so much for writing about your experiences, it’s given me a lot of confidence that there is a way to make this work, and it’s nice to know I’m not alone. Can I just ask a couple of questions… How long was it from when you lodged all your correct documents until you got the all-clear? And were you married already before you had to leave the Schengen zone and wait 3 months in the UK?

    1. Author

      Hey Emily! Glad to hear the post could help 🙂 So I can give you some of my details, but please keep in mind this was back in 2012, so things may have changed buuuuut here goes. 1) Once we lodged all the documents completely (and it took 2 goes to ensure we had everything) it was only like, 2-3 weeks to get issued. Which was just as well because I was cutting it fine to my schengen allowance! However, a friend of mine with a different passport waited something crazy like 6 months last year, so it depends very much on individual circumstance. I think as a Kiwi though, with the right docs you should be fine for a speedy processing. 2)We were definitiely not married when I first got kicked out – I met Stefan in the January, we went to speak to the Vienna MA48 about my visa options in the March and they kicked me out immediately as I’d already overstayed (job hazard as a tour guide!). So that was why we had to wait out the 3 months for it to reset before we could even think about which Visa would be best…which lead to the marriage which was really just a stepping stone to the visa. Most people think its like ‘whoo married free pass’ but actually, no, the marriage certificate was just one more piece of paper to submit to get the visa 😉 Hope that helps and makes sense but definitely contact the expat centre here in Vienna they are experts and super helpful! Good luck – I promise its worth it!

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