One of the hardest parts about being in a relationship with someone who comes from, quite literally, the opposite side of the world is making sure that we CAN actually live together in the same country. This means that you have to go through an unavoidable process of obtaining residence permits in whichever country it is you decide to make your home. For us (obviously!) this was Denmark, and so we spent a crazy amount of time reading over the rules and trying to decide which visa was the most applicable for our situation before making the big move in June last year.
It became clear quite quickly that the visa we needed to go for was called ‘familiesammenføring’ (or family reunification in English). Under this visa, I would have unlimited working and residence rights for at least the first two years. But, the slight catch with this visa was that it required quite a bit of paperwork to prove that we were ‘co-habitating’ partners (as we aren’t married) and it took 10 months from the date of application to receive an answer. When Marc accepted his job offer, we had only about 3 months to actually make the move to Denmark, and if I stayed behind to wait while the visa was processed, we could essentially ruin the ‘co-habitating’ streak that we needed in order to satisfy the visa requirements (we had to prove continuous co-habitation for at least 18 months).
Luckily for us, Denmark and Australia have another deal whereby citizens under the age of 31 can apply for a year long ‘working holiday’ visa. This meant that I could come to live and work in Denmark for the first year on this first visa, while we applied and waited for the answer on the family reunification visa, meaning that the co-habitating streak would remain in tact. Of course, we didn’t have to go for the working holdiay at all if we didn’t want to. It is possible to just come into Denmark on a regular tourist visa and apply for the family reunification once you get here. But if you decide to go down this path, in the time between application and an answer you can’t work and you can’t take advantage of the health care system (i.e. you would need to pay for travel insurance, which is not the cheapest thing!) The working holiday visa isn’t available for all countries, as I understand its a specific agreement that is struck between governments. But if you can get something like this in the meantime, I would definitely go for it because you can at least live with some sort of certainty in the first instance while you’re waiting on the next visa.
So, October 2017 comes around and we submitted our application for family reunification. The official story was that it took 10 months for the visa to actually be processed. If this was true, ‘working holiday’ visa that I was on currently would expire before we received an answer, meaning that I would have either had to go back to Australia or stay in Denmark and be in the same situation as I would have been had we applied on a tourist visa. We were practically convinced that this was a very real possibility, because we had heard horror stories from reading online forums, with some people saying it had taken up to 15 months in some cases for them to receive something back from the authorities! Seeing as we weren’t a ‘normal’ case (i.e. we weren’t married, and had to actually prove co-habitation to meet the requirements) our hopes of bettering that time period were low.
But, low and behold February of this year comes around, and we were contacted by the authorities with the good news that my visa had been approved! So, all in all, it took only a matter of 4 and a half months from the date of application to the date that I had the new visa. So, what kind of wisdom can I impart onto anyone else looking to secure this type of visa in Denmark? I’ve touched on a few important points below:-
- Make sure you have read the application entirely and that you have all of the documents they have asked for. The workers have a checklist that they need to fill out at the time you hand in your application to check that you have everything they need. If you don’t, you can’t submit the application at that time and you’ll have to come back when you DO have everything (which will waste you a lot of time, and unnecessary travel to and from the offices!)
- If you’re unsure about a requirement, call and ask – there is a phone line which you can call to ask any practical questions you have about the application. Of course, the operator can’t answer questions of substance (i.e. they can’t tell you if you will actually GET the visa eventually), but questions regarding the documents they need or anything similar, they can help with. Pro tip – call JUST as the lines have opened, as you can end up waiting some time to talk to someone!
- Organise your documents in an easy matter – we had a covering letter with our application, in addition to our actual application form, to clearly note which document related to which requirement. The worker who accepted our application really liked that we were so well organised, and I think it might have helped with the speed at which our application was processed.
So that’s it for now! If you have any specific questions related to this process, leave a note in the comments.