As of today (well, according to my card, as of May 7th), we are officially residents of Hungary through March 2014! We made our second trip to the Hungarian immigration office today and were finally able to pick up our cards. I say “finally” because our first trip to immigration took place on April 5th. We had a few minor hiccups in that first visit. I cannot stress how nervous I became when I heard the immigration guy say “There is a problem” (literally the only English he uttered the entire time we were there). He then went into a lengthy discussion with Attila, the manager from Richie’s company who was tasked with preparing our paperwork and accompanying us to immigration, in Hungarian. Since my knowledge of the Hungarian language is currently limited to counting and descriptions of dogs, I had absolutely no idea what the problem could be. I started silently sweating and fidgeting, thinking we’d had an awful case of mistaken identity or something and were on a do-not-let-these-people-in list. Richie, of course, was perfectly calm and started playing with his Crackberry.
It turns out that we had two problems – we needed an official copy of our marriage license, translated into Hungarian, and the postal code on our lease didn’t match the official register, so we needed to re-sign our lease. If I could give married people one piece of advice, it would be to get dozens of official copies of your marriage license and to keep one handy at all times. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve needed one in the past two years. Ours, of course, was sitting in a safety deposit box in Texas. Luckily, Richie’s parents were kind enough to retrieve it and overnight it to us. Once it arrived, it took about a week to be translated into Hungarian to prove that we’re really married. Apparently this step would not be necessary if I were working here, but since I’m not, Richie has to prove that he’s really responsible for me 🙂
So, after the lease was re-signed and the marriage license translated, we didn’t hear from immigration for more than three weeks. I started to have visions of us being deported on day 91 (which would be June 11, so really we were in no danger…. but I’m a worrier. It’s what I do. Per Attila, it’s “what women do”). Until last Friday, when Richie finally got an e-mail that our paperwork was ready!
I was still nervous (are you surprised?) when we went to the office today that something else would go wrong. However, we were in and out of the office in about five minutes or less. All we had to do was review our cards, sign some papers, and watch said papers be stamped several times. So now we are good to go! We will only have to return if Richie’s secondment extends past the original contract date, which may or may not happen. It would likely only be a few months’ extension to transition his work onto a new arrival, but Attila said that the full process has to be repeated – you can’t just tack a few months onto the old paperwork.
I wish we had a scanner here so that I could show you what the ID card looks like – it’s pretty neat. I do look like I have a floating head, because they essentially faded the neck of the photograph away, but my shoulders and collarbone are still there, so it is a little disconcerting to look at. It’s nice that it’s an actual card, though – previously, it was a paper version stapled into your passport, so it was a little more fragile.
Now, when people ask where I live, I can really say Hungary! And I’ve got the documentation to back it up. So like a former auditor to be obsessed with the paperwork, I know.