The Happiest Day of My Life
I know that one is supposed to say, and with much justification, that the happiest day of one’s life was the day they got married or had a child, the latter of which I have never experienced, but the happiest day of my life was yesterday and I will tell you why, if you will bear with me.
I got married to a Thai lady eight years ago, although we lived together in her remote village in Thailand for four years before that, and ever since the day that we moved in with each other, I have worried about us being split up by our governments through their use of visas, which are used to give privilege to people with money. For those of you who have never needed a long-term visa, the first or second question one is asked is about finances.
As an unknown full-time writer, I always knew that one day my savings would run out and my visa in Thailand would no longer be extended. Moving to Britain was also problematic, as for a spouse from outside the European Community to quantify for a residence visa there, the spouse has to be earning at least £25,000 per annum, which excludes most writers, including myself.
EU Directive 38 is a lifeline in this respect, but it is not an easy route to follow and with Britain’s exit from the EU looming, it would soon no longer be an option.
However, it was the only hope we had so we went for it.
I obtained my ‘residencia’ in Spain last year, but my wife’s visa expired before we could apply for hers, so we had to return to Thailand. We returned to Spain this year to try again. We had done a lot of leg-work in Thailand before coming back, but I was still not confident, because people told us their experiences and what we would need to qualify for my wife’s residencia.
We went to our appointment with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Malaga yesterday. We sat waiting for our turn with no expectation of success because, despite the two kilos of paperwork I had with me, I did not have everything that people had told me we needed.
I told my wife and myself not to get our hopes up, but that by the end of the day, we would know exactly what we did need. That was enough for us, another step forward, however small it be.
After waiting an hour for our turn and sitting through a twenty-minute interview, the man handed my wife two sheets of paper. He didn’t speak English, and we don’t speak Spanish, but he indicated that the session was over. We didn’t understand, but he persevered and pointed out my wife’s NIE on the letter, which gives her the right to stay and work in Spain.
I was stunned – I just could not believe it.
“How about residency?” I asked cheekily.
“This is residency too”, he tried to explain. I could see that he was becoming frustrated, so I wished him a happy St. Valentine’s Day, which it was, he smiled, and we left quickly.
A friend read the letter just now and confirmed that my wife has the right to live, work and reside in Spain in perpetuity (almost).
I am over the Moon! All my fears and nightmares of twelve years have vanished, although we still have to get her the same privilege in the UK, but we have crossed the widest river now, and the likelihood that we will be parted by visas is minimal now.
That is why yesterday was the happiest day of my life!
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All the best,
Podcast: The Happiest Day of My Life