Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)


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Putting It All Behind Us

Immigration...DONE!Vince started work today and it went much better than I expected. I thought our HR manager would have some questions about his immigrant visa or ask for something we don’t have yet (his new Social Security card, for example). As usual, I worried for nothing. He was in and out of her office and starting his first day of work for the 2013 season in just a few minutes.

Today, I was finally able to really breathe, relax, and let go of all the worries and stress that come along with the immigration process. It was exactly this time last year that I was gathering paperwork, filling out countless forms, and beginning our journey to making Vince a permanent U.S. resident.

Oh, the stress that 12 months of bureaucratic red tape and rules can cause!

In a few months time we will have to adjust his status, but other than that, we are done!

We can now focus on building our lives together in Alaska and, eventually, even starting a family.

But first things first…we have to make it through this summer in one piece!


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Welcome Home, Vince!

He's home!Today was a great day.

Today my husband, Ventsislav, entered the U.S. and became a permanent resident (Green Card holder).

Today a journey nearly 5 years in the making came to an end.

. . .

We could not be more thrilled to be starting the next phase of our life together.

After spending a few days in Utah with my family, Vince will be joining me here in our new home in Alaska.

Today… I am one happy lady!

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Approved!

Vince went to his visa interview at the U.S. Embassy today and was approved! He said it only took about an hour total and they’ll be sending his visa to him in a few days. I didn’t mind him waking me up from a dead sleep at 6am this morning to tell me because I had been stressing about it a little bit even though I knew he would do fine.

He didn’t get the Bulgarian & American flag combo that some applicants get. Bummer!

It’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that we are done with his immigration. It’s been a long 10 months full of paperwork, fees, and stress; but we are thrilled to have come through it all relatively unscathed and are really looking forward to starting our life together in the U.S.

The only hurdles left are adjusting his status in a few months (90 days before our second wedding anniversary) and then his citizenship in a few years. After going through the Bulgarian D-visa process and then the Green Card process…I am pretty sure we can handle anything!

I contemplated writing up a wiki or post on our experiences and how we did his CR1 visa for those also going through it, but now that we are done I just want to put it behind us. If you happen upon this post and have any questions, I will do my best to help you out. Just email me at whitney @ girlmeetsbulgaria.com

A Very Happy Wife,

W.

: : :

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Super Duper HUGE Announcement Time!

Hmm. Where do I even start?! (and NO…I am NOT pregnant!)

First off, I want to thank all of you, both regular and new readers alike, for supporting this blog endeavor of mine. Girl Meets Bulgaria has been  a way to keep family and friends updated with my life; my inspiration in down times; a place to share my adventures, dreams, and struggles; and a creative avenue where I can explore my passion for photography and writing.

When I started GMB over two years ago, I never could have imagined that it would have grown to where it is today. I have readers in over 100 countries, a growing Facebook page, and connections with some of the kindest people I’ve ever met.

Even though the next few months hold a lot of changes for this blog, I sincerely hope you stick around with me through the journeys that lie ahead.

With that, I’d like to let everyone know that Vince and I are moving back to the the U.S.!

His immigration has been in the works for awhile now and barring any hiccups, should be finalized by the end of the month. Returning to the states was a hard decision for us to make. We’ve been together nearly 5 years now (holy cow! where does the time go?!) and throughout much of our relationship we’ve talked about settling in Bulgaria and making it our home. I knew it would be hard once we had kids to be away from my family and friends in the states, but I thought we would cross that bridge when we came to it.

After my stay here last winter and another summer in Alaska, we began to see that living in Bulgaria posed a lot of challenges to building our life together and starting meaningful careers. Sure, there are TONS of perks and advantages to living in Bulgaria (ahem, can you say TRAVEL!)  and many people are very successful here; however, it just didn’t feel as “right” for us as it once did. Vince is, of course, very sad to leave his parents and friends, but he is excited for the opportunities available to us in the U.S. and we hope to visit Bulgaria often. This country will always hold a very big part of our hearts and be a significant part of our life together.

OK. So are you ready for ANOTHER big announcement?

We’re moving to Alaska permanently! 

I was recently hired in a year round management position with Princess Cruises in Alaska and could not be more excited! Vince and I had already planned on returning to Denali this summer for what was likely to be our last time, when a full time, year round position opened up I knew I had to apply. Princess is an incredible company to work for and after 3 summer seasons, I am thrilled to be starting a career with them (looks like I’ll be using my tourism degree after all!).

Alaska has become a second home to us during our many summers spent working in Denali. Moving there permanently is a bit of a daunting prospect, but with so much to do and see, we are very excited to be making such a big change. Frigid (and dark) winters at-40 below should be interesting!

We will be living and working outside the tiny town of Trapper Creek (pop. 423) at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge (about 2 hours north of Anchorage). The lodge is very remote (i.e. completely by itself with nothing around for miles) and sits a mere 40 miles from the base of majestic Mt. McKinley. All 20,320 snow-covered feet are visible from the lodge on clear days; it’s a breathtaking sight!

I’m about to become a mountain woman, ya’ll! 😉

Things are happening very quickly and I will be leaving Bulgaria next week with Vince to follow early next month. My first stop is Utah for a visit with family and friends as well as life maintenance things (moving to another state requires some logistical shuffling) and major shopping trips–no more company-provided uniforms for me! I have to buy a completely new professional wardrobe. After that I am Alaska bound!

I don’t know exactly where I am going to take this blog. I am thinking a new name is inevitable–I figure it’s about time for some major changes anyway. I do know that I will keep it up and post as often as I can! Going from unemployed with endless amounts of free time to working full time will obviously affect my blogging habits, but I fully plan on blogging well into the future.

Whew! What a post, right?

Here’s to moving forward and new adventures!

W.

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Long-stay Bulgarian Visa

This post serves two purposes: share my visa experiences thus far as well as offer some advice and information on how to go about obtaining a type-D long-stay Bulgarian visa (based on marriage to a Bulgarian citizen), for those who may need it.

The process of applying for a Bulgarian type-D visa is a long, complicated and expensive one, to say the least.

But if I want to stay in Bulgaria for longer than 3 months (the length of a tourist visa), I have to endure it.

You’d think that after a couple of years worth of research, phone calls and emails to two Bulgarian Consulates and advice from fellow Americans (Lauren, you are a life saver!), I would have been better prepared. Alas, it’s looking more and more like I’m not.

The current policies in place require that American citizens apply for the D-visa in the United States at one of three Bulgarian Consulates–Los Angeles, Chicago or New York. You may also be able to apply at the Bulgarian Embassy in Washington D.C or the “Honorary Consul” in Carson City, Nevada (although on that last one I’d call them first to verify if they offer visa services as I wasn’t able to find a website for them nor could I find much information about the facility online). In the past, Americans were able to apply in Europe (usually in a country neighboring Bulgaria), now, however, we are required to apply in the U.S. I have decided to make the trip to Chicago for my visa as opposed to going to Los Angeles (the consulate closest to me) for two reasons… First, after contacting both consulates, Chicago came out the clear winner as far as helpfulness. Second, I would rather spend a few days in the Windy City than I would in L.A.

Contrary to what the websites for all the locations state, it seems that quite a bit of documentation and legalization is needed to get the visa.

So far, I have learned that the following items are required:

Apostillated and translated copy of the marriage certificate – Before applying for the visa the marriage certificate must also be presented in Bulgaria to register the marriage there. Apostillation services are done by the county in the state in which you are married. Each consulate has a list of approved translators.

Affidavit of Support provided by the Bulgarian citizen – From what I understand, this just needs to be a written statement provided by the Bulgarian citizen stating that they have the means and intent to financially support the applicant. Notarized and translated, of course.

Notarized copy of Bulgarian citizen’s passport – If both parties go to the consulate together, the passport can just be presented. If not, the notarization must be done in Bulgaria as that is the issuing country.

Criminal Background Check on applicant (also called a previous convictions certificate)- This is a new requirement and a huge pain in the butt! The Chicago consulate requires a FBI background check which  includes being fingerprinted and takes at least 8 weeks to get, oh and it also has to be apostillated and translated! Some consulates may also accept a state background check.

Applicant’s passport – Finally, an easy one!

Proof of insurance coverage– The provider must be licensed to operate in the EU, the policy must last at least 6 months and have a minimum of 30,ooo EUR covering all repatriation of remains, emergency medical care and hospital treatment. Yikes. This one scares me!

Bank statements from both parties proving “sufficient funds” – This requirement is fairly ambiguous. Although, one Bulgarian government website says it has to equal the Bulgarian minimum monthly wage.  I cannot get anyone to tell me a required amount so it looks like the applicant is at the mercy of the agent helping them. However, I think that a few thousand dollars is sufficient, especially by Bulgarian standards. I guess if they want more and I don’t have it in my account I can always do a cash advance on one of my credit cards then transfer the money back after I get the visa.

2 copies of the Type-D Visa application

2 current passport size photos

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