Our Visa Situation Explained (as much as it can be)

What visa are you on and how does it work?

We are currently on a tourist visa. We are only allowed to stay here 90 days out of 180 (approximately 3 months out of 6). In other words after being in Europe for 90 days (3 months) we have to be out of Europe for 90 days in order for our tourist visa to reset so that we can legally enter Europe once more.

What’s the difference between the tourist visa and the one you are applying for?

The “visa” we are applying for is actually a residence permit, not unlike a U.S. green card. This residence permit will allow us to stay in Austria long-term. The tourist visa that we are on only allows us to stay 3 months out of 6.

So your tourist visa will be finished on Monday?

We are leaving on Monday, March 28th which is day 88 of our current tourist visa. We are doing this because it is advantageous to leave a couple of days left on our current visa so that if our residence permit is ready to be picked up in less than 90 days we will be able to come back to Europe as soon as it is ready. Otherwise, if we stayed until Wednesday we have to stay the full three months outside of Europe even though our residence permit was ready. Sending it to us is not an option we have to be in the Vienna immigration office to physically to pick it up.

Why didn’t you just apply for your residence permit in the States?

We pretty much had to do it this way for a couple of reasons. First, we had to have a rental agreement in order to apply for our residence permit. As expensive as it has been flying back and forth it would have been even more expensive to maintain residences in both the U.S. and Austria while waiting for our residence permit to come through. Second, the competition is extremely stiff for one of these residence permits. There is a quota for how many are given out in any one year. I think the number is around 60 or so for Vienna. There are well over 60 people applying every year for this permit so if you are not physically present at the immigration office on the first working day of the year you will have zero chance of receiving a residence permit that year. That’s why Liz and I were at the immigration office at 5:30 in the morning (two and a half hours before the office opened) and still we were numbers 35 and 36 in line!

I have heard rumors that the quota system will go away next year and it may be possible in the future to apply from the U.S. Pray that this will indeed happen for the sake of our teammates that wish to join us here in the future!

If you applied in January why haven’t you heard back yet? What in the world could be taking so long?

This is being handled by a government institution. Need I say more?

How many more times are you going to have to do this?

Let’s pray that this is the last time! I expect that it will be. Even if we have to stay the full 3 months in the U.S. this time I feel pretty sure that we will get an answer during our next 3 month stint in Europe. Based on what happened last year most people who received their residence permits had heard back from the immigration office by June or July at the latest. Residence permits are always much harder to get initially than they are to maintain. So as long as we stay current with our residence permit we shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

I hope that answers all of you questions. If not, post your questions in the comment box below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

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