Late last month, I was in Germany for a vacation and for a personal appearance at their Standesamt to submit the documents needed for background check.
Back story: I have fallen madly, deeply, deliriously in love with a German national.
Coming from two bureaucracies, him from Germany, I from the Philippines, you can only imagine double the fun when we decide to live together and have both our countries recognize that decision. Many Filipino-German marriages know this all too well: the long, painful process.
I call it the long nightmarish road to together for good.
Months before the trip, we had planned on securing a schedule for a visa interview just to streamline the movement of documents. Having returned to the Philippines a fortnight later, I proceeded to the German Embassy to submit the marriage visa requirements.
My appointment was quick and easy. I had all the preliminary documents so all I did there was fill in some more details specific to my application, answer questions from the officer, and listen to the officer relay what we already know. The talk about the process was business as usual and was handled professionally, but to my ears it was a dagger in the heart.
Already in a long distance relationship, we’re looking at an indefinite 4 to 6 months for the visa to be released
Why indefinite? Because only after my background check is finished and I am officially recognized as equivalent to the documents I have submitted will the visa processing move.
Note that each city in Germany would vary about the background check requirement during visa application. It so happens that Greg lives in a city that requires it.
Before it can move, there are documents that Greg has to complete for me then send over to the Philippines. With our current mailing system, this would already cost time.
Hence, 4 to 6 months is a comforting range to say for a waiting period; but in reality, it can stretch to a year with all the document back-and-forths.
A tormenting game of what ifs
One of the what ifs Greg and I discussed would be if we had been other nationalities. If he had been American or British, lodging a visa application for the purpose of marriage wouldn’t have been this long. And for him, had I been a different nationality, it will only take 4 to 6 weeks for my visa to arrive.
Choosing who to love based on ease of paperwork is possible but Greg and I have gone far down the road without considering it. How funny would it have been if we started out our first date by talking in detail marriage visa requirements and processes.
More Skyping, less hugging
If I strip a long distance relationship down to how it looks like many an evening, it’s two people from different time zones talking to a screen. There would be fights and tears but none of the reconciliatory hugs that follow when you’ve both simmered down and are ready to see reason.
Thinking about the next year or so interrupted by a few short weeks of him visiting in between leaves me in pain. There’s hundreds of days left ahead of me when I would be wide awake late in the night looking at our quickly aging pictures and trying to recall some of the things we shared together that are also fading in my memory.
Heading home after the visa interview had been the longest, loneliest walk I ever took. And for someone who liked walking, it was one of the few times I dreaded the experience. I never knew that the heart is capable of feeling literally torn apart and sore. For the first time, that day I fully understood what walking with a heavy heart felt like.