Well, it’s that time again; Visa time. When, once again, we must prove that it’s in Hungary’s best interests to allow us Americans to live in their country. (I can think of hundreds of reasons!) I mean, using Bailey and Brodee’s cute factor should be reason enough, right? But something tells me immigration requires more tangible grounds.
Hungarian visa officials want to know that we have the means to support ourselves, that we have insurance, and that we’re squeaky clean. In other words, we won’t drain the economy. It light of recent events, you’d think they’d be happy we’re here. Since Hungary is bordering a country that’s just been invaded (or liberated, depending on your perspective), you might assume they’d say the more the merrier. But that’s not the case; and seeing we came very close to overstaying our welcome last year, “Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, it’s off to the immigration office we go.”
Right off the bat I knew this would be a different experience than when Will and I first applied for Hungarian residency. We arrived early, fully expecting a long wait. However, seeing Susan, who helps us navigate the Hungarian waters by paying bills, going to house meetings, and fighting with the cable company about direct deposits (which finally went through after four attempts) had set up an appointment, we were able to skip ahead to the VIP section. This area seemed to be for individuals who are pretty much a shoo in; diplomats, employees of universities, and, I would imagine, CEOs of multinational companies… a little different than the other side with the more questionable applicants (like us).
After being immediately escorted to meet with one of the immigration agents (wow!), I changed my mind and thought the process would be easy breezy. But, as we all know, the breeze can change in an instant when dealing with government agencies in the U.S. Here too.
First, the agent asked for proof that we have a place to live in Hungary. We explained that last time we’d presented paperwork from the land register saying we owned our flat. We also explained that Will had actually come to the immigration office last week to make sure we had prepared everything we needed and he’d been told that, since this was a renewal, we didn’t need to bring those papers again. The agent seemed uninterested and, even with all our “discussion”, wasn’t going to take the purchase contract we had brought or the paper that proved we’d provided the land register paperwork last time.
S%^&! (That’s me). “Breathe,” I told myself. “Focus on the flow of the inhale and exhale.” I knew it wouldn’t be a walk in the park, but I could feel myself starting to freak out. They wanted that letter from the land registry proving that we do in fact own our flat. So, Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, it was off to the land registry we go. (There was a lot of heigh’ing and ho’ing because the immigration office is on one side of Budapest and the land registry office is on the complete opposite side). We made the trek, got the proof, and then headed back.
This go around wasn’t quite so easy breezy, though, either. Instead of being moved to VIP status again, we were given a number and had to wait. It didn’t take all that long, but when we got back to a different agent, she looked at our papers and asked where the lease was. What? If we own the place, why would we have a lease with ourselves? Does this make sense to you? Because the agent was looking at us like we were crazy. Thankfully, the woman who had helped us earlier in the day came to our rescue.
The “new” agent (who was not happy) took all of our papers and told us we were finished.
So now we wait. Hopefully we’ve jumped through all the hoops – and, more importantly, the right hoops – to prove that we are worthy. There’s no telling, really.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from living in a foreign country, it’s trust. You must trust bringing large sums of money to a bar to close your house, that somehow it all works out and you get a visa to stay, and – most importantly – that everything happens and you are here for a reason.
Keep your fingers crossed.