|Road to Karyovouni village - Greek Mani|
Our Journey thus far:
|Highway between Kalamata and The Mani - Greece|
We set off on our Road Trip to Residency in February – with bulging application packets of documents proving health, wealth and honorable citizenship. We traveled to San Francisco for an interview and review of those documents by the Greek Consul there who serves the U.S. area in which we live.
Our documents needed to be current, so there was a tight timeline between the California trip and our return to Greece. Timing is everything.
Having obtained a 12-month entry visa as a result of that San Francisco meeting – we then made a quick trip to our state capital Olympia, Washington. There we had those stacks of documents notarized and later apostilled by the Secretary of State’s office so that the Greek government could accept them. Tight squeeze in scheduling, but timing is everything.
On the Road in Greece:Our mid-March return to Greece where we plan to be until early June – seemed back then more than enough time to make it through the Residency permit process. So optimistic were we about being approved and the process going smoothly that we decided we’d buy a car this spring as well. (A resident permit is required of foreigners registering cars here).
However, the first month came and went as our packets of documents were translated into Greek and the new documents stamped and added to that pile of paperwork we’d brought with us.
|The Scout waits in the Immigration office|
With luck we’d be issued a temporary visa, the authorities would keep and examine the documents closely and with more luck we’d be issued a permanent visa before we leave. We’d given up hopes of buying the car this trip.
The clerk smiled at us and welcomed us in English – a good start, I thought. But then in Greek he told our attorney why we wouldn’t be getting any permits that day nor would we be leaving our documents for review:
The immigration laws changed April 1st (no joke!).
|New forms, new fees - paid them at the post office which is also a bank|
We would need to pay another fee to the bank, have photos taken and put on a CD, and we would have to have fingerprints taken by immigration officials. The conversation at the counter went:
“Can we do that today?” The Scout asked, trying to salvage a bit of the ground we seemed to be losing.
“That is a problem,” explained our attorney. “The equipment is here but the law is so new it isn’t hooked up”
“When will it be hooked up?’ asked The Scout.
“Maybe next week,” she replied. “But they also need a technician to operate it. . .”
We quit asking questions.
|The official how-we will-look-as-residents photos|
On Road Trips - Pay attention to the Road SignsIn early March we’d read a Greek news article about an overhaul of the country’s immigration system for foreign residents. It sounded really slick as it changed from a sticker pasted into the passport, to a plastic card - a residence card, with computer chip, that doubles as an identity card.
The change was initiated back in 2002 – 15 years ago! – when all European member states agreed to introduce the new cards The aim is to have a uniform residence permit for the European Union. The regulation was updated in 2008. Some countries have completed the process, for instance, Germany rolled them out in the fall of 2011.
Basically it uses electronic photo identification and fingerprints and other data on a chip in the card and sounds much like the U.S. Global Entry card used many thousands of travelers there.
So that explained the need to go get photos taken, pay an additional fee, and await the fingerprint machine and technician. We seemed to have timed our effort to put us right in the middle of the conversion. . .and that is where I intended to end today’s post.
Stop! Listen to other travelers
|Stop sign near our home in Greece|
'No,' he said. 'I had my photos on a CD and they fingerprinted me in the Kalamata office. And issued a residency card - not a sticker in the passport.'
(Now it had taken him a half dozen visits to the Immigration office to get it done, but obviously he timed that March visit correctly.)
So as I wrote in the beginning, timing is everything when you travel - even on Road Trips to Greek Residency.
Thanks for being with us again this week. Next week, I’ve got a Greek ferry tale for you. Should we resume the road trip, you’ll be the first to know! As always, happy travels to you and yours!
Linking this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Travel Photo Thursday –
Weekend Travel Inspiration