Monday, January 9, 2012

Nuts and Bolts: Documents - Part 1

In the midst of schooling, wiping noses (we are all sick over here, again), and just general daily chores we are slowly moving forward with more of the technical details pertaining to the move, One of those big details is documents, legal ones, the kind that allow you to not get exported right back to the land from which you came the first time you get pulled over for zooming through one of these...

The girl with the lollipoop! 

...I don't know what they expect when the street signs are so funny that you can't help but laugh instead of slow down to let pedestrians cross. I certainly cant brake and laugh at the same time.

Documents. Today I would like to discuss what kind of documents we will have and why we have chosen said route. There are a few options but they will differ for every family depending on your situation. We have a particularly unique situation because we will be moving to Poland, not just visiting for an extended period. And as I mentioned in my last post, we will be purchasing one-way tickets. As this always sends up red flags at the airport security counter, we have been discussing lately what we need to get to Poland without too much hassle.

Here are our options.

1) Simply go to Poland with just our passports. Martin has an American and Polish passport, the rest of us have American
            - this would work if we had round trip tickets for less than 90 days. But we won't have those. We could purchase them to make the whole move MUCH easier. We could just buy the tickets, get to Poland and then tell the world that we changed our plans and are staying and get the proper documents in Poland. It would be much easier, a little more expensive but it could be worth it. The problem is, I'm not sure how easy  it is to just get "extending your stay" documents over there. Probably not hard. I just don't know. But the other thing is, it's a little dishonest to lie about your intent. So there's that.

2) Visa for me that allows me to stay longer than 90 days and up to one year. Polish passports for the children which means they can stay as long as they want.  With a one-way ticket this is the most "right" way to go. Everyone at border control will understand that we are going to be in Poland for an extended stay and that at some point I will just renew my Visa to stay longer or get a resident alien card in Poland. The children can stay as long as they want since they are citizens. The one catch... getting Passports for the kids... not so easy. It can take up to 6 months to get the Passports AFTER you get all the proper documents. These documents require translation of birth certificates (which we already have in the works) and an Apostille.

Apostille- a document that certifies that the notarized document contained herein (i.e. birth certificate) is indeed an official document. You have to have one Apostille for each document, attached to the document and then all have to be sent in to the proper authorities.

That would mean 4 Apostille's (which also have to be translated into Polish) attached to the Birth Certificates (also translated into Polish). And you have to get the Apostille to start with, and that takes time. SO all of that, plus a 6 month possible waiting period before we could get the Passports in our hands... that has us leaving sometime next Fall... and that just won't do.

3) Our chosen option(at this date in could definitely change)  Visas for all of us "non- Poles." So, the children and I will all have to apply for Visas.
              - this is the best option for us at this time. Visas don't take that long to get, at least when you're *leaving* America. These will ensure that we can be out of the country for up to a year with the proper documents, and within that time period we will be taking all our translated documents and getting Passports for the children in Poland (so, in effect, establishing, on paper, their Polish citizenship), and then at some point taking out translated Marriage Certificate over to the proper authorities and proving that Martin is in fact married to me (Poland has no idea about this yet...isn't that special?). We have been assured that we don not need an Apostille for this process in Poland. The only catch here might be the fact that at border control, into Poland, they will see that we have Visas for a year, but no return trip planned because our tickets are one-way. We talked about this a lot last night and came to the conclusion that we don't think it will be that difficult to just explain the situation. And, in the end, it's not illegal to buy one-way tickets. Maybe we just like to purchase one-way tickets. And we do in fact have the proper documentation for an extended stay. I'm sure it'll work out. ;)

So there you have it, friends. The quick run down of how we plan to legally enter and stay in Poland. Now I just need to get started on those Visas... I'm sure that will be a piece of cake, right?

I apologize for the dry and mundane posts lately. I'm sick, again. And right now the children are painting with watercolors and stamps while I write this. I think they have now brought stuffed animals and some spinning (as in standing in one place and spinning around) into the mix. Probably gonna end a little like this...

NOT my children.

... if I don't wrap it up.

And I kindly ask that an other American ex-pats (or soon to be...Heather, I'm lookin' at you here) who have been through a similar process please share your experience and what road you took to get there, legally speaking. Are we forgetting anything?


  1. Are you lookin at me?? I just now remembered all of this from my short 10 month stay in Italy. When I did all of this for Italy I literally prayed it through. The Italian consulate in Chicago had my passport for my visa and I did not get it returned to me until 2 or 3 days before my flight to Italy. (they demand your passport AND your plane ticket be bought before you apply.)

    As for us, um.. I just figured we'd wing it when we got there. But now you've got me thinking... As for the translations, Harvard students have a program there that lets you have the documents officially translated and a VERY reasonable cost (compared to other agencies). The repatriation laws are scheduled to change in Feb so I guess we'll wait and see what they say.

  2. btw - I am sorry you are sick again!
    How did you find reasonably priced one way tickets? In every case it was cheaper to buy a round trip ticket. (I need to do so asap!)

  3. Ahh! You're right! You have to purchase your plane tickets BEFORE you get the Visa. Crud! I wonder if they'll even give us Visas without a round-trip ticket. Double Crud. Thanks for mentioning that... we are still learning as we go... maybe we'll just have to take of all of it over there and pretend we're just going for a short holiday... and never come back. ;)

  4. Hi! I just discovered your blog and although I am not an expert I might be of some help. My family of four just arrived in Poland in October. My husbands work helped us with the move some, but we are still working on our documents. My husband has a work Visa, the rest of us just US passports. We had one way tickets and didn't really have any problems getting into the country. We applied for temporary residency within the 90 day time frame, and are still waiting for confirmation but from what I understand now that we've applied and submitted (multiple) copies of our documents etc we should be legal unless they ask for more paper work or find a problem. We found a company here to translate our documents cheaply and within a reasonable time. We even flew to London for the new year and were allowed back to Poland. Good luck!

  5. Hi Jen,
    Thanks for the comment! All that you have to say makes me feel much better as this is the way we are trying to go. Just passports, since Martin is already a citizen, one-way ticket, and do the rest from there. After we saw all the stuff we had to do to get Visas we just decided to do it all from there. It's good to hear that you had no problem with the one-way ticket... that was a bit of a worry. But I tend to over-think things! ;)