Dutch Visa Part I (sort of)

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For those who follow me in FaceBook I posted that my visa was approved.  There is a longer story that goes back to last spring.  Ilka came to visit for Derby Week and the week after.  Of course at this point we were engaged and had not set a date.  This was a time we also had many serious conversations about our life together including where to live.  It was obvious at this point she was going to be appointed as the team lead in addition to the job of incident coordinator (assigning work to the team) that she already had, as she was familiar with balancing workloads and tickets.  She told me that she loved her job, and felt there was a lot of room for her to grow with this company and the real possibility of promotion as well.  Without hesitation I told her I was willing to move to the NL instead of her moving to the US, but we would need to find out what the requirements were for me to immigrate.  After she left for the NL again, she contacted the IND which is their Immigration Service.  She found out basically the requirements were be American, don’t be in trouble with the law.  As a US citizen, there is no language requirement (most immigrants from other countries must have a basic understanding of Dutch, or speak English)  So I mailed her the documents she needed and she mailed me the form I needed to sign.  I returned the form to her and we waited.  She got a letter stating they need a certified copy of my divorce decree.  So I went down to the courthouse and got a certified copy of the divorce decree.  She received a letter stating that the copy I sent was not what they wanted.  About 2 days before I was flying to LA to meet her, and get married in Las Vegas, I finally realized they need a state level certified copy of the divorce decree, similar to current birth certificates (I’m proud to say I have a photocopy of my birth certificate & the newer form both certified) or death certificates.  So after I returned from our marriage, I was going to request a copy and mail it over.  Ilka left LA on a Friday night, I left on Saturday morning.  Saturday afternoon I call Ilka in Chicago and she is absolutely in tears and nearly not understandable.  She had gotten a letter from IND saying my request had been denied.  After she calmed down and was able to read the letter without crying, she saw it had been denied for 2 reasons: 1) She did not have a permanent job & 2) I could not prove I was not married.  She went to work Monday morning spoke with the folks in HR, it seemed her records had never been updated to reflect that she was a permanent employee of her employer (the records said she only had a contract until December 31 which was true until May when her contract was amended to open ended) so the HR folks updated her record and sent a letter explaining this to IND.  She then went to legal where they explained to her  that I needed to prove a negative, that I was in fact not married.  She called the caseworker at IND (she had an actual person not a phone tree that ended up with a phone bank of random people) and explained everything to him and asked about proving a negative.  He reviewed her records and asked “You called me a while back about getting married in America?  Did you get married?” her answer was yes “Did you request an apostille copy of your marriage certificate?” an apostille is required to allow other countries to recognize marriages performed in the US.  The US has the same agreements with hundreds of countries, in the US it has to be certified by the Secretary of State for the state you are married in, for us the Nevada Secretary of State.  She answered yes, as I specifically requested (and paid handsomely for) an apostille copy of the certificate. “Well then once you have it, send it to us and we can appeal the decision, he will be able to get his visa, will he come to the NL before the visa is approved?”  She told him she would contact him again once she had the marriage certificate, which gave us time to figure out when I could arrive.  We decided almost immediately that I would be in NL by my birthday (December 8) but I did want to celebrate Thanksgiving with Ray as well.  Once she received the apostille marriage certificate, she called IND told them that I would arrive on December 3.  The caseworker told her that should be enough time, but that he could no longer help her as appeals were handled by another team.

So on December 3 I arrived at Schiphol Airport on a tourist (90 day) visa.  January 17 was 45 days and I was getting a bit worried.  Ilka had called the caseworker in early January and he had no idea what the status was as he only handled new requests and was not able to find out about appeals.  So on January 16, I got the letter dated January 14 stating my visa was approved for 5 years until December 3, 2020.  I needed to go to the nearest IND office for a photo, fingerprinting & my signature, no appointment needed (the government not needing appointments….I have a bad feeling about this.)

So I arranged for my father-in-law Aad, to take me to the nearest office on Tuesday January 19 to wait to get my biometrics (their term) completed.  So he arrives, of course I think it’s true the world over there is no parking close to the office, so he drops me off says he will find a spot, park, and come wait with me.  I walk