February 3, 2017 by Ynnsie
We knew it wouldn’t be easy to stay in Europe more than 90 days.
Ninety days is the visa-free limit imposed on visitors to (most of) Europe by the Schengen Agreement. Without a visa, Canadians and Americans and all the world must hie themselves out of the Schengen Zone before Day 91 lest they turn into undesirables in the EU for 2 years.
And don’t go getting ideas about, say, popping over for a few days to England (a non-Schengen country) and then turning up – me voilà!– back in France to start the 90-day clock running again. Mais non! Ninety days within 180 days. And there must be 90 days between your ninety dayses.
So, either we needed visas or we needed some other solution.
Enter my beloved Irish-born grandmother. Actually, she can’t enter – she died at the age of 100 years + 2weeks in 1999, and I miss her still. But she left me a tiny share in a sheep farm in County Galway and the right to Irish citizenship.
Because of her, this fall I received a shiny maroon EU passport with a harp on the front. And because of her, I can stay in the EU indefinitely. And through me, JDG can also apply to stay.
But, as I said at the beginning, they don’t have to make it easy for us.
At the lake this fall, JDG assiduously gathered as much information online as he could. We were going to need documents, lots of them. A certain kind of health insurance. Proof that we have means of supporting ourselves. Rental agreement. Translations. Lots of red notarial seals all around to make everything look official.
And even then, web sites said, the local officials could ask for any other document. There are no national protocols in Spain. Local governments have leeway to get creative in what they demand of foreigners. We entered on Project Stay Over 90 with some trepidation, realizing we might be slinking home in April no matter how we prepared.
Well, so far, so good.
We went to the Oficina de los Extranjeros fairly promptly after our 20 January arrival here. Start with the padron, we were told.
Padron. I had visions of a Marlon Brando Godfather fella giving us thumbs-up or thumbs-down – stay or go – but no. The padron is more along the lines of a running census office: you have to tell community officials about your status. Are you married? Newly divorced? Had a kid? Just moved into the ‘hood? Take care to update your padron.
Three office visits and one home visit (they sent a nice lady out to see if we answer the doorbell at the address we gave) and – thump, thump went the big official stamps – we got our padrones today.
We promptly hopped onto clunky Sevici bikes and rode through steady rain, back to the Extranjero office. Thump, thump – Europeans do love their stamps – and I was okayed for residence, provided I first pay money at a bank. What? Yes – that’s the way it goes. You pay fees for government services at the bank and they thump another paper and then you go back to the government offices and the stamps do their thing and then … all’s right with the world. Thump.
Well, at least that’s how we hope it goes. Tomorrow we go back to the Extranjeria and try to get JDG as my add-on. Once I’ve got all my stamps, he can get his papers thumped too.
And then the number 90 will mean nothing to us again. We’ll drift along in our privileged status, here until July or until we can’t take it any more.
** By the way, the ‘bureacrazy’ tag came to me through the blog of a feisty ex-pat American who married a Sevilliano. It fit with our experiences in France and we were indeed nervous. But unlike Cat, we haven’t anything to complain about. On the contrary, we’ve met with patient and helpful bureaucrats who put up with our sketchy Spanish and pushed us along our way. I chose the title as I started to write this post – but it’s been a pretty happy story throughout, wouldn’t you say?