Thanks to my ex-husband who was born as a Norwegian, and most of the most thanks to EU/EEA agreement which has opened more cross-border possibilities (and i agree, so long it is not being abused). To be honest, I don’t buy the over worried arguments of those who disagree about EU-establishment.
A year ago, in summer 2012, I got married in Norway. All went well despite a worry that my Schengen visa wouldn’t cover enough days for Norwegian authorities to grant my marriage ceremony. The process of getting married in Norway can be read here (in Indonesian) and here (continued stories in English), while the ceremony is reported here (in English).
Two weeks after that, and after I completed and nailed “A” on Norwegian course in the University Oslo, we decided to speed up the moving time and drive all the away to Copenhagen. Perhaps my 90-days Schengen visa had increased this insecurity feeling.
Drove for more than 9 hours (due to a heavy storm in the middle of Sweden, we had to stop), packed with stuff, mattress, and short-term food supplies, we both finally arrived in our small, 25 meter square, kollegium (student-room) in Copenhagen. My husband is a master’s program student at Copenhagen University, that’s why we could have access to rent kollegium. Otherwise, it has been known that finding a room in Copenhagen is really hard. As a matter of fact, he had paid the room 2 months in advanced to secure one of the requirements for residence permit application: a place to live.
BORGERSERVICE & THE DOCUMENTS
It was the 1st of August 2012. Sun shined with some brief wind. A perfect day to hand-in my application. We arrived as København Borgerservice (a citizen service office), a building that handles residences’ public documents and permits. The one that I went to is located at Nyropsgade 1, 1602 København V. In addition to Danish civil paper case, Borgerservice Copenhagen also houses the international citizen service to handle foreigners’ cases. Today, it’s getting better though, the city government has built International House office, specialized in handling and guiding foreigners who plan to reside in the city. The principle is it should be easier to become a Copenhagener than a Dane.
Here are documents that me as an Indonesian need to hand-in (bring also the original documents in case borgerservice staff need to cross-check):
1. Copy of passport; all pages
2. Two pieces of 3×4 pass-photo
3. Marriage certificate which has been stamped by related authority, In my case, mine was stamped by Indonesian embassy, before previously stamped by ministry of foreign affairs Norway. The later institution’s stamp is needed for any document which will be used abroad.
4. Certified copy of bank account slip with enough amount of money. And what I meany with “enough” means that there is no finite numbers how much one needs in order to meet the requirement. Your case worker will decide. However there is a minimum estimate of 7.000 kr. ++/ month that someone has to meet for a period of at least a year. Of course these money has to be ready-to-draw from ATM/ bank a.k.a a fresh money. Note that this bank account slip can come on behalf of either of you, your spouse, or both of you.
5. Copy of the basis of your residence. For example, if you rent a place, bring in your rent contract. And if any/both of you own a place, bring in the ownership document.
6. Fill out the application which you can download here
Note that these documents applied for you and your spouse. It is always good to hand-in documents together at the same time.
So here we were, it felt like so many people cramped in the borgerservice waiting room that day. Indeed, summer is the most popular time for people to migrate: the new students who are about to begin their semester, the employee who use their summer holiday to clean up paper work before ready to work legally by the end of summer, and many more.
BEING TRANSFERRED TO STATSFORVALTNINGEN
After half an hour waiting, the staff told us that my case, which lied under EU/EEA law, needed to be transferred to Statsforvaltningen office as there were extreme ques and limited staff who could help us at that day in Borgerservice. According to the staff, Statsforvaltningen (or The State Administration) has a dedicated office and resources to handle case for EU/EEA citizens and the family (but not those who lie outside this territory). You may read the information from Statsforvaltningen about residence permit under EU/EEA law, and several locations of its office across Denmark here
Learning from our hectic experience at Borgerservice, the day after, we arrived in the very early morning at Statsforvaltningen to avoid long que. Even then, there were already folks sat around the entrance door, waiting the office from opening.
When our quing number was called, we both wanted to test if the civil officers would comply to the statement on EU human right document that as an EU/EEA citizen, my husband needed only to claim and sign that he would solemnly responsible financially to his stay in Denmark, no bank slip required, and this rule applies to his family member, me. At the time we refused to hand in our bank slip, we suddenly involved in heated argument with the head of staff. Despite we had pinpointing the document we downloaded from EU commisson’s website, she refused this condition. But in the end, we just wanted this mess to get done, so we handed in our bank slips.
We walked out feeling exhausted, but at least now, I got a stamp on my passport stating as Visa on Case process, which stated that after the expired date of my Schengen visa, I could not travel outside Denmark until the case is decided. The length of process time could not be decided, but one said it could take up to 6 months.
One week after submitting our application at Statforvaltningen.
Although i was confident that we submitted all necessary documents, still this insecure feeling remained.
I then had to fly to Montreal, Canada for work project with the British Council. During the stay in Montreal, I could not stop from worrying if my case was rejected, or if I had to return back to Indonesia, which I consider as the worst case ever. So I contacted my husband to call Statsforvaltningen…hoping that we could get the news about my case. He tried several times….many times actually…we almost lost hope, until one day he managed to talk with our case worker. She was suspicious if our newly wedding was a pro-forma, the marriage that was done simply to traffic human. Thanks to my husband, he narrated our love story and how we met for the first time in the US as host brother/sister 8 years ago. He could have told the case worker about our two’s crisis as I wasn’t allow to marry a non-muslim and no government offices who would cater cross religions’ marriage in Indonesia, despite myself don’t believe in a single religion (this is a default condition one has to endure from being born in predominantly muslim country). But he didn’t, my husband didn’t extend this story, sensing that this story would raise her suspicion further.
Our case worker was satisfied and she mentioned that money we have would be enough to stay in the country.
We were still waiting, though.
I GOT THE PERMIT
On the day I landed back in Copenhagen from Montreal, my husband sent me a text that he got something which would make me terribly happy.
AND IT ARRIVED! MY RESIDENCE PERMIT ARRIVED! A letter that stated I shared the same right with other EU/EEA citizens is here. And I could work here legally as well as a possibility to transfer as Permanent Residence after staying in the country for five years.
This permit though, is binding to my husband existence. Meaning that if something worst happened, such as divorce, the death of my husband, or I no longer reside in the same address with him, this permit will be void. In November 2013, the governmnet evaluated this law stating that foreign citizen whose Danish/EU/EEA spouse who reside in Denmark passed away, can continue to stay in the country given that she has shown the ability to integrate to the Danish culture.
That’s OK. I think I could take such consequences. The point being is NOW I AM HAPPY BEYOND BELIEVE. Especially to the fact that I GOT MY PERMIT WITHIN ONLY 1 MONTH! I feel lucky knowing that there are many who have to wait way even longer that I did.
I remember the moment when I firstly hold that letter. I couldn’t wait the time to switch to permanent residence and eventually the Danish citizenship after 10 years of reside. That’s a long time, but I’ll just have to do it and see how things going on the way.
The morning after, I rushed in to Borgerservice to apply CPR number which will grant me basic civil access as the rest of the Danes such as healthcare access and education. For first time doer, don’t forget to bring your residence permit letter and card, your passport, and your rent contract.
Not enough there, I also went to CBSI in Nørrebro, which offer free class about Danish society and culture. Good news, CBSI also located next to IA-language school, so I didn’t wait that long to go there and find out about its danish language program. Note that all CPR number holders have the right to learn Danish under kommune’s expenses up to three years for all 6 modules (except for Au pairs who can enroll to this program only up to 2 modules).
“You just got your CPR number this morning, and already enrolled to our program”, said a program director at CBSI.
“Yes, I can’t wait to understand more about the society I currently live with. I think I will like Denmark”, I answered her with a smile and ready to open all doors waiting for me in the future here.
That was my story a year ago. I now already work full time at an IT company in Copenhagen, finally bought an apartment and live happily with my husband, making friends and volunteered for several organizations, and enrolled in Danish class module 4.
Of course there are moments when I complaining about stuff and situation here, but that’s normal. Wherever we go, there is always the up and the down. The more we live in the country, the more we will know all rotten side of it, but also the good sides. I of course criticize many things here, the government, the law, the mentality, but at the same time, I praise many things too. This has balanced my view and enjoy my life to the most.
My case worker appears to be one of the staffs who always answers my question quiet quickly from online borgerservice. Plus, in the middle of people complaining about slow health care access in Denmark, the doctor who is assigned to me by the kommune, is a very professional one. She replies almost all my health concern online within 24 hours. Excellent service.
I have lived, run projects, and travel in more than 10 countries. To me there are two conditions when it comes to live abroad:
Good. And Really Good.
When I experience something sucks, it’s good, because I can learn from it. When I experience something awesome, it simply really good.
And I should say my life in Denmark is so far so good.