Hungarian Residence Permit (we are in!)

Schengen Area

Schengen Zone

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

 On Tuesday, February 4th 2014 we applied for our Hungarian Residence Permit. This is the document/visa/permit that allows us to stay in Hungary beyond 90 days. Without this, we have to leave the Schengen Area for 90 days before we can come back and try again. So getting our Hungarian Residence Permit is key to our stay in Europe.

We were scheduled to meet with Mirjiam to go to the Immigration office at 8:30 Tuesday morning. Mirjam works for Budapest Lets, the housing office that manages our apartment. She is helping us with the paperwork and she obtained some of the apartment documentation we needed for our application.

 Juila had perviously asked Mirjam to look into getting an appointment with the immigration office and Mirjam said she would call and check into it. As we were getting ready that morning, Julia pulled up the hours for the Immigration Office on-line and noticed that the Office did not open until 1pm on Tuesdayso we had some doubts about the mornings activities.

 We left our apartment and headed down to the street to meet Mirjam. As we opened the street door of the apartment building Mirjam was just arriving and had a taxi waiting to take us all to the Immigration Office. With the meter running, we all jumped in and headed out across the Liberty Bridge to the Buda side of the river. We talked with Mirjam about a couple issues with the apartment, telling her the story of the plumber. (Remember the plumber? 12,000 Forint and the sink still didn’t drain.) The taxi pulled up in front of the immigration office and we piled out. The taxi zipped away and Mirjam went up the steps to the immigration office front door and …it was locked. Yep, the internet was right. Closed until 1pm, these things happen. We all crossed the street and went to a small coffee shop at the mall to discuss our options.

 We ended up going over all the paperwork and forms with Mirjam. She helped us fill in a few fields where we were unsure of the information being requested. Mirjam then led us over to the near-by post office and helped us buy the fee stamps (Illetékbélyeg) we needed to include with our documents. The fee for the permit is paid for by purchasing these stamps, which are then affixed to the application. Once that was done we had nothing else to do until the immigration office opened at 1:00 pm.  Mirjam called for a cab and when it arrived we all jumped in and headed back to the apartment building. Mirjam left for the office and we went up stairs to wait for the immigration office to open.

We headed out for the immigration office about noon, jumped on the number 47 trolley headed east in front of the central market. We rode the 47 trolley to Etele utca then walked down to the immigration office arriving at about 12:45 pm. There was already quite a line formed, we got in line and waited our turn. After checking in at the main desk we took our number and sat in the waiting room waiting to be called. We each had our own sequential number.

 We waited about 45 minutes and when Julia’s number was called, we both went back together. The women at the window was very nice, she reviewed each of our applications and all our supporting documents. Everything was looking good, Julia was very organized (imagine that) and had copies of all the required documents for each of us sorted in a three ring binder in document protectors. The women was very helpful and answered several questions we had about what information to put on the application. With her help with finished up the application. We thought we were looking good! Then she handed each of us a blank piece of paper and a pen and asked us to “Write why you want to live in Hungary.” (Note:  Nowhere in any of the research or webites was this listed as a requirement.)  Well…okay, so we each spent a few minutes writing out why we wanted to live in Hungary. Just a formality right? I mean we are retired. What does anyone who is retired do? Travel, shop, sight see, ride bikes, hike in the hills; all the normal tourist stuff just extended. (Ok, so we are still figuring out how to be retired.)  We handed in our essay and the women handed each of us a receipt for all the paper work with an appointment date of February 25th for us to return and pick-up our residence permit decision. Now all we had to do was wait. No problems…

 Tuesday, February 25, 2014

To be fair, lets preface this next part by saying that we had been warned by numerous people that no matter what documents we had turned in, when we went back in there would be one more document that they needed...

February 25th is another Tuesday and the immigration office doesn’t open until 1pm on Tuesday. This time we got that right. Another trolley ride and walk to the office got us there by about 12:50 and we had an appointment... sort of. Back in line, wait to check in, get a number, and take a seat in the waiting room. Only about a 30 minute wait and we went back individually hoping to get our residence permits. Well, no such luck. A different women helped us this time, and her English was not as good as the first womans three weeks before and she wouldn’t speak up. After asking her to repeat herself several times, Marc finally figured out that she was asking for a statement of “What you want to do in Hungary.”  (which we thought we had already done but) This one needed to be detailed and typed and we could either turn it in at the office or fax it in by March 19th.  She also gave us a document... in Hungarian.

We were out the door in under 45 minutes this time, but with no residence permit. Very disheartening. This time we figured out how to ride the #33 bus up to Móricz Zsigmond körtér and transferred there to the #47 trolley for the ride home. This saved us the 800 meter walk from the immigration office to the trolley line.

 Részletes nyilatkozatot a magyarországi tartózkodás céljárol.

 That is the key statement on the document the immigration office gave us. The woman at the immigration office said our statement needed to answer “What we wanted to do in Hungary.”  It turns out that translation is an interesting thing. The above statement actually translates to “a detailed statement of the purpose of the stay in Hungary.”  The key word is “céljárol” which Google Translate translates as “purpose” not “want”. A subtle be distinct difference. Just to check the translation we headed over to our Hungarian friend Albert’s apartment and asked him to translate the document for us. Albert lived in the States for several years and speaks excellent American English. He confirmed that “purpose” of our stay was the more succinct translation.

Well, that changes our statement somewhat. So, back to the apartment to work on the statements. Between to two of us we think we have come up with a pretty good statement with an emphasis on “retirement.” We used some form of the word “retire” three times in the first paragraph and many more times throughout the remainder of the two page statement. Hopefully they get it this time. As Marc said in his statement “We plan to retire in Budapest, Hungary. I do not intend to and have no desire to work while in Hungary”.

 Tuesday, March 4, 2014

We had a trip planned to Maribor, Slovenia to visit our friend Klemen and were departing early Wednesday (February 26th) morning so we had to wait to turn in our statements until our return. Another trip over to the immigration office on March 4th and another wait in line, a number, a seat, and then in to see an immigration officer, this time a guy. (The least helpful and most unfriendly immigration officer so far.)  We turned in our statements, but when Marc asked if we could make an appointment to come back he was told to just come back in 21 days. Since we didnt manage to get an appointment, we will head back to the immigration office on March 25th, stand in line, get a ticket, a seat, and hopefully some good news. Our 90 days in the Schengen Area ends on April 15th. However; as long as our application process is ongoing we can stay in Hungary. We will keep working the system until our application is approved or completely rejected. If rejected, we have decided to take a 90 day trip to Thailand (which is NOT in the Schengen zone) then come back and try again.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

We recieved a piece of mail from the immigration office yesterday, which basically said "come to the immigration office". So the next day we headed to the immigration office with fingers crossed and…we got our residence permit for one year! Mostly... interestingly, the expiration date of the permit is not one year from the decision but rather it is the expiration of our one year lease on the apartment (January 22). I suspect if we owned an apartment we could ask for up to 5 years, but the lesson from this is:  the permit expiration will follow the time frame you have an authorized abode (your lease expiration date). 

December 15, 2014 - Beginning the Residence Permit Extension Process

We gathered all our paperwork and headed to the immigration office to request a two year extension on our current Residence Permits, the lessons learned from the first experience firmly in place. We stood in line, got our numbered tickets, waited until our number was called, and met with a very nice clerk. She took all our paperwork, looked it over and told us we have all the required documents, issued us new address cards (and provided us with several blank official copies of the address card form should we need them in the future), and less than two hours later we were headed home. 

Somehow, it all seems too easy...

January 14, 2015 - They will always want one more document...

Today we recieved a letter from the immigration office in the mail which we immediately recognized as a request for another document, but the wording for the type of document requested was different than last years letter. This years letter says...

"Egyéb célt alátámasztó dokumentum"

Which roughly translates to: other documents in support of purpose.  Umm, ok, what documents specifically? Last years letter was clear when it requested a “detailed statement of the purpose of stay in Hungary”, but “other documents” is pretty vague. We consulted with several Hungarian friends and no one seemed to be able to tell us what the phrase referred to beyond a direct translation, as one of our friends said “this is the most useless piece of paper I have ever seen.”  We headed to the immigration office to try to discover what additional kind of document might support our purpose (retirement), and quickly realized the no one at the immigration office knew what the phrase referred to either. The clerk at the immigration office read the official letter and handed us a piece of paper and a pen to write a statement on our purpose of stay (deja vu), so we gave her a copy of the typed “Purpose of Stay” letter that we had previously submitted. She read thru it and said it was excellent and should be what they were looking for. We said 'Thank you, but we already submitted that exact letter three weeks ago with the original extension request'. She checked with a co-worker, she called a supervisor, no one seemed to know what “other” documents the immigration officer on the case was expecting. So the clerk took the copy of our purpose letters to add to our folders, stamped proof that we had submitted the requested documents on our forms, and told us that if the immigration office needed any further documentation, we would get another letter in the mail within three weeks.  

When we started our initial Residence Permit application a year ago, several friends warned us that no matter what documentation we initially submitted, the immigration office will always want one more document. We have now submitted the one more document and will wait and see if the content of the document actually matters or if we are checking a block on the remnants of a post-communist bureaucracy. 

Stay tuned…

February 3, 2015

We recieved a piece of mail from the immigration office today which basically said "come to the immigration office to recieve the decision on your residence permit application.” Off to the immigration office we went, but this time we didn’t get a number. Instead they took the letters and our passports. Thirty minutes later we were called back and we received our new Hungarian Residence Permit cards! Another two years to keep exploring and learning! 

And a confirmation that beaurocracies will always want one more peice of paper. 

Interested in getting your own Hungarian Residence Permit? Click Here for everything we know about the process...

Directions to the Immigration Office:

Office of Immigration and Nationality
Address: 1117 Budapest, 60 Budafoki Street 1903 Budapest, Pf. 314.

1) From the Central Market Hall get on trolley #47, or Metro 4, west bound and ride to Móricz Zsigmond körtér. N47.47788 E19.04750 

(Note there are many many trolleys that end up at Móricz Zsigmond körtér, not just the #47. Central Market square is just close to our apartment so we listed it since that is how we went.)

2) Get off and walk approximately 100 meters east-southeast down Karinthy Frigyes utca to the stop for the #33 bus Important Note: The #33 bus runs in a loop but the last drop off point (in Móricz Zsigmond körtér) is not the same location as the first pickup (in Móricz Zsigmond körtér) even though they are both listed as Móricz Zsigmond körtér. The first pickup stop is not on the square itself, and even if you see a #33 bus on the square it is not picking up passengers, you have to go to the stop that is opposite the end of the Tram 6 line.  The stop is located at Lat/Long:  N47.47715° E19.04942°

3) Take the 33 bus to the Hengermalom utca stop across from the immigration office. N47.45904 E19.05234

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