What other people say

In recent days, I have had the chance to speak to some of my friends who have German spouses about their experiences and I’m sharing them here.

A good friend of mine who comes from a non-EU country was working as an Au pair in Germany when he met the girl who would be his future wife. Due to visa restrictions, he had to go back to his country and apply for a Marriage Visa. This resulted in a helluva lot of paperwork both for him and his wife but eventually he made it here and they got married. However, in order for them to get married, one spouse had to have enough money and an apartment a certain size for a couple. His wife was luckily able to prove both things and it ended positively for them both. I hope they ask nothing of the sort from me because I haven’t finished studying yet and neither has my girlfriend and it could be problematic for us to show sufficient funds.

A second person I spoke to was a student when he met his German wife. They got married within 3 months of starting the process. However, because it was taking too long for them to get the green light in Germany, they both got hitched in Denmark instead. By the way, Denmark is really popular as a ‘get hitched quick’ destination for Germans and the Dutch.

I really hope my experience is quick and easy and painless. As I said before, I want things to be romantic, not stressful. However, I have found the German system to be a biased with a lot of bias directed toward non-EU spouses. I know there have been marriages of convenience but they should at least get it into their heads that two people can actually fall in love and decide to spend their lives together for that very reason.

Visit to the Standesamt – I

So this week I made my fist visit to the Standesamt. I suspect it to be the first of many visits. For those who are not aware of what the Standesamt is, it is the authority in Germany which is responsible for keeping track of births, marriages and deaths in Germany. Therefore, to get married in Germany, anyone and everyone who is a resident here must go to the Standesamt.

I went to the local Standesamt with my girlfriend and there we met a nice lady who gave us some information about what documents we need to submit in order to get married and what the whole process involves. Upon learning that I had never been previously married she remarked, “That should make things easier.” This filled me with some hope. Upon learning I come from Pakistan she said, “Oh, that’s tricky.” This made me a bit apprehensive.

According to the lady, I need the following documents:

  1. The entry from the birth registry in Pakistan from the Chairman of the Union Council;
  2. Certificate of capacity and no-objection to marry;
  3. In case of a past marriage, the reason for dissolution of marriage which can be (a) death of spouse, or (b) divorce;
  4. In case of dissolution of marriage in a foreign country (other than the country of which you are a citizen), additional paperwork is required.

Needless to say, this information is Pakistan specific. If you come from another country, just ask your local Standesamt for the paper stating the requirements for your country.

In my case, points number 3 and 4 becomes irrelevant. However, for number 2, I need an undertaking signed either by me or by my father on my behalf (because I’m currently not in Pakistan). This undertaking must state that I am:

  1. currently unmarried,
  2. able to marry, and
  3. can enter a marriage without any foreseeable objections.

Once, I have the birth document and the undertaking, I have to hand in the certified German translations – the Standesamt has a list of translators – of these documents to my local Standesamt. Once the Standesamt is satisfied that everything is in order, they will forward the documents to the state capital. In my case, that’s Düsseldorf.

Now, the people in Düsseldorf have two options: they can either say they’re okay with the documents provided by me, or they can decide to throw a spanner in the works and verify the documents on their own from Pakistan. In the latter case, the fee is approximately €225. At the end of this, I should get something called an Apostille which means a permit to marry.

The list of documents needed can by country be found here: http://www.olg-koeln.nrw.de/aufgaben/justizverwaltung/organisation_verwaltung/dez_7/laender/index.php (this list is only valid for NRW)

My experiences until now with bureaucracy

Until now, the only real bureaucracy I have encountered in Germany has been the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigners’ Authority) in my town. I live in a small town in Nordrhein-Westfalen (NRW) and have been to the Ausländerbehörde about three to four times for my residence permit and its renewal. They have always been polite, kind and matter-of-fact. I have heard of other students having bad experiences with them, but never me. They were never strict with me, rather they were always quite flexible. One reason could be that I try to speak in German to them and Germans always appreciate if you make an effort to learn their language and try to integrate here. Being a Pakistani in the West isn’t easy so I try to integrate as much as I can.

Why the weird name?!

People might wonder the reason for the weird name. There’s an animated and unanimated movie series based on a comic series called “Asterix and Obelix”. I had never heard of it before coming to Germany. My girlfriend introduced me to them in the hopes of “Germanizing” me.

The series is based on two bumbling characters called Asterix and Obelix who try to repel the Romans from taking over their town which is the only one not part of the Roman Empire. In one of the animated movies called “The Twelve Tasks of Asterix”, have to complete – as the title suggests – twelve tasks. One of those tasks is going to the “Place that sends you mad” aka a bureaucracy and find Permit A38. Hence, the title.

Here’s the link from the movie. Keep in mind it’s from 1976 so the animation’s pretty crude by today’s standards.

It seemed fitting based on the ominous warnings I have received until now.

First things first…

Hi everyone. I hope people actually visit this blog. Uh oh, I came off sounding lame in sentence two already. Let me begin by introducing myself. I come from Pakistan and am – at present – a student in Germany. I came here for my Master’s degree and fell in love with Europe in general and Germany in particular. Germany is a beautiful country with awesome people who are generally very open-minded. But every country has its quirks and Germans have theirs too: bureaucracy. Germans in bureaucracy go nuts with forms! In my country, you just bribe the guy and “grease the wheels” so to speak. But not here. Here, things work differently as I am constantly reminded by my girlfriend.

Which brings us to my (hopefully soon to be official) better half. She’s from Germany. We met as students studying in the same state and then decided to study at the same university. After being together almost three years, we decided it was high time we tied the knot. And so, we looked up the rules. It seemed pretty simple and straightforward and we thought we’d do the good deed in 2014.

Then I struck a roadblock; we heard Germany does not allow marriage between a German and a non-German unless they’re well funded. We’re both students, and penniless ones at that. Okay, it isn’t that dire but we have only student jobs at present and are some time away from being financially independent.

The reason for starting this blog is to document the various hurdles which we will both face until we can marry and get the marriage recognized in Germany. Right now, I have no clue what will come our way. Maybe it’ll be easy, maybe it’ll be hard. Only time will tell what becomes of us. But maybe this blog will help someone in the future, that’s my hope. So Tschüß everybody and wish us luck on the other side!