My Austrian experience started with a student visa, progressed onto a red-white-red skilled worker’s visa and was now ready to move on to the big one – the family visa. In comparison, this visa is fairly easy to obtain (assuming of course, you are family) and requires only proof of marriage and passing of the A1 German test.
Pretty easy, we thought. Well I guess it was. But being a visa, it was still fraught with fun complexities and extra challenges that we hadn’t originally anticipated. Read on for the journey into my (hopefully) last visa in Austria.
First challenge – receiving the wedding certificate
We got married in April. My work visa ran out in November. Plenty of time, we thought. Oh, how wrong we were! Turns out there was a backlog of weddings in Victoria at that point, so many so that it was taking over 3 months just to obtain the ‘official’ certificate. And what I didn’t realise at the time, was that in order to ‘receive’ my wedding certificate, I had to provide proof of identification, in the form of 3 documents that were signed by the police or a notary public. So instead of having done the easy thing, that being, having the documents signed and sent when I was actually in Australia, I had to organise this in Austria. This was done at the notary public, who was really quite confused about why he would have to verify something as basic as identification!
Another two or three weeks go by, and the wedding certificate finally turns up (it was now August). Of course then it had to be apostillised (another form, another payment and another two weeks) before it could finally be sent to Austria.
Second challenge – having the wedding certificate accepted here
Of course because it was an Australian wedding certificate there is a process for it once it arrives here. Austria won’t accept it as a proof of marriage until it’s been certified and translated, and despite the fact that it’s in English, which the vast majority of people can fully comprehend, it still has to be translated by an official translator. There goes another week and some euros!
Third challenge – changing my name
In Austria, when you get married, you choose what your new name will be and sign it on the wedding certificate on the day. That means there is an official record of your new name. In Australia, it works differently – we simply choose from 4 or 5 different options (his name, double name, whether his or your name is first, whether there is a dash etc.) after the wedding. This seems simple, but all Austria sees is the fact that there is no document with your new name. Therefore I had to update my passport before they would accept my new name.
Fourth challenge – getting a new passport
This is usually a simple process, but being overseas I had to get this done at the Australian Embassy, which is in Vienna, 2.5 hours away. Conveniently, I had to go there for work around this time so my appointment was booked for the start of October. Then it was just a matter of scrounging up all the documents (luckily I had them all) and finding a guarantor for my photo. If you don’t know someone with an Aussie passport (I don’t), then you have to find someone in a relevant occupation who has known you for at least a year. Luckily I know a teacher who was happy to sign it for me, and then sign it again when I realised the night before I went to Vienna that I’d filled out the wrong form! The actual passport interview at the embassy was simple – 10 minutes and absolutely no cost!
Fifth challenge – applying for the visa
Applying for the actual visa was simple, it was the timing that was difficult. I had already done my German A1 test, so all we needed was the updated passport with my new name (I could have taken the visa in my old name and changed it later, but why do it twice if you don’t have to?). The problem was that by the time my new passport showed up there would only be a few days before my current visa ran out. Not enough time to apply for a visa. To get around this, we submitted all the documents for the visa before we got the new passport, and the Australian Embassy wrote me a letter saying that my passport (in my new married name) was currently being processed. Once the visa people had this letter, they put the visa in for processing and I could then pick it up as soon as I had my new passport.
Sixth and final challenge – picking up the visa
So, a mere few days before my visa ran out, I received my brand new, naked passport in the post. I took it down to the visa office the next morning and paid the small fee (total of €100) and was handed a shiny new family visa! This I took straight to work and now finally, 6 months after I actually got married, I can officially use my new married name, in situations other than on Facebook!
How it works from here
Now that I have a family visa, staying in the country and working is super easy because I am allowed to work without restrictions (on what field I’m in or how many hours I do). This visa is valid for a year, but next year, the process involves simply handing in a form and updating my photo, with the next one being valid for three years. I’m so glad the visa chapter in my life is over… at least for now!