For non-EU citizens, living in Europe long-term isn’t easy. As an Australian, and this does apply for a few other countries, you can stay in the Schengen area for a visa free period of 90 days. After that you need to either acquire a visa or some sort for a particular country, or leave the Schengen area for a total of 90 days before you can re-enter and your visa free period starts again. If you are lucky enough to secure a visa for a Schengen region country, you can then move freely in the area as you are on a valid permit.
Our plan to live long-term in Europe, being under 30 years old, was to acquire working holidays visas as we go. Fortunately, Australia has many agreements with European countries that allow a working holiday visa application possible.
In saying this, a country having this possibility as an option, doesn’t mean it is easy to apply always and it is especially harder sometimes if you are already abroad. Before leaving Australia for Europe, we had a rough plan of what to do visa wise. We had decided that Germany could be our best option for a working holiday visa first up, so being organised I applied before leaving home as I was closely situated to the German Consulate in Sydney. Lockie on the other hand, was home in Queensland before leaving and didn’t have that convenience, so he left it to apply until he arrived in Germany. Lets just say, in Germany they were rather unhelpful so we gave up on the idea. That’s how we ended up here in Austria.
We were lucky enough to gain an Austrian working holiday visa without much hassle, whilst we were still in Germany. Lockie was on a visa free period here. We were granted a 6 month Austrian working holiday visa and were thrilled. Gaining employment wasn’t an issue when we got to Austria as all paperwork was already completed and your employer does the rest. Sounds good so far doesn’t it! Well it really was, until corona hit and we were faced with the uncertainty of any European consulates/embassies being open and accepting visas in this time.
I’ve spent endless hours doing internet searches, emailing and making phone calls, trying to gain any information I can, in regards to what countries are accepting visas currently and ensuring their embassies are open for appointments. That’s all well and good but then you are faced with the crossing of borders to make visa appointments in other countries and need to access if it is safe to do so.
This really is a mentally draining task and sometimes feels like a complete waste of time and effort. I often say to Lockie, ‘how much easier would it be if we were EU citizens, being able to move and work freely between other EU countries with no issue’. And it would be so much easier but I guess it’s all part of the fun we signed up for.
This corona situation is unexpected and unknown territory for all. It makes things a lot harder when trying to deal with authorities, that them, themselves, don’t know what to tell you to do or who to refer you to as they have never had this kind of situation occur in their time.
A sign of hope for all us third national country travellers, I have found there is currently a number of EU countries accepting visa applications but be prepared to jump through more hoops than usual. We are currently waiting on our new visa appointment and will be hopefully headed to Norway in the coming months! Wish us luck on the next part of our adventure!