Three weeks and a stamp…

So I’m still gathering paperwork for the Ausländeramt — the Immigration Office — here in Nürnberg, trying to get my visa renewed so that I can stay and teach English for a while. The mountain of paperwork is incredible! As I’ve said before, everything in Germany takes three weeks and a stamp… but for this it’s now more like three months!

Just as an example of the things I have to show:

  • Proof that I can support myself — first it was a letter from the training school I’m working for, stating that they expect me to teach a certain amount and make a certain monthly income. But I also had to have a certified letter (yes, a stamp!) from a “Steuerberater” — basically a tax advisor / accountant — verifying the income I’ve made so far this year as a part-time teacher. While the accountant thing is a bit extreme, this requirement makes sense.
  • Proof of my living situation — basically a copy of my rental contract, showing how much I’m paying in rent. But I also had to take another form to the property manager’s office to be filled out and stamped, showing the same cost information that’s in my rental agreement.
  • A stamped certificate from Sheridan’s school verifying that she’s a student — I got one in June when I first went to the Amt (yes, I’ve been working on the visa thing for nearly three MONTHS now!), but now I have to get another one since the new school year has started!
  • An application for permission to work as an independent contractor — from another office, the name of which I can’t remember now — basically saying how much I expect to make, my office/retail space, how many employees I’ll hire, and what capital I’m providing — which is the same basic form you have to complete to open a McDonald’s or something! Amazingly “one size fits all” — but not so amazing, once you hear the later stuff…
  • Proof of health insurance for me and for Sheridan. Now here’s where it gets problematic.

Every city has their own Immigration office — and apparently the rules are set at each office for the specifics of what is required. Nürnberg has a five-point list of what the health insurance requirements are, which include (1) regular doctor and dentist coverage, (2) medicine and other stuff like bandages and crutches, (3) hospital stays, (4) rehabilitation, and (5) pregnancy and childbirth. Reasonable? yes? well…

Because I’m self-employed, I don’t qualify for the public insurance companies — they’re designed for employees. Here’s how that works: you pick the one of a dozen or so insurance companies (they’re largely the same, and they now by law charge the same rates for the same coverage, so the main differences are the locations and the “extras” like health seminars and such), and your employer pays half of the rate, you paying the other half (I think it’s right now about 14% of your gross income).

There are also a number of private insurance companies. If you make over a certain amount yearly you can choose to opt out of the “Gesetzliche” insurance and go private… which ends up being cheaper because they charge a flat rate rather than the 14%. Of course, the private companies can be choosy about who they cover. Because of being diabetic, I’ve been rejected by three different German private insurance companies. The only one I found who will cover me is actually an international company that is licensed to sell in Germany, and they don’t cover pre-existing conditions. Unfortunately, if the wording is not EXACTLY what the Amt is expecting as outlined above, they have a problem. I’ve been back three times with different stuff to show that I’m covered for 1-5.

Sheridan, on the other hand, was no problem getting covered since she’s a healthy 12 year old. See, all the coverage is individual… no “family plan” unless you’re covered under the public option. She has a regular German “KVV,” or full coverage, as long as I can show everything in her paperwork. The kicker, however, is that I was told the last time I went to the Amt that Sheridan also has to have the pregnancy / childbirth coverage! >O.o< HUH? She’s TWELVE!!! Gah!

After my mild heart attack, I realized that her KVV actually has this stated in it, so it’s not a problem as far as that goes… but… Gah! No, my current problem is what is known as “Pflegepflichtversicherung” for me… basically coverage for when I retire and have to go into a nursing home… huh? Hadn’t planned to be here that long… Well, that’s another 30 euro a month I’m gonna have to pay. I’ve applied. They have to have the same kind of doctor exam you have for the health insurance… sigh…

Just as a side note, when I mentioned the pregnancy thing to my insurance agent, he said that one of his clients is being required to have the pregnancy cover even though she’s had a hysterectomy… one size fits all, indeed!

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