Last week we went down to Washington, DC, to get long-term visas for our upcoming four-month stay in Germany. I spent weeks gathering detailed information in preparation for the interviews, and had plenty of cold, hard cash to bribe, err, pay the officials the required application fee. We met with a couple of very nice people from the German Consulate, but sadly we did not walk away with German visas. In fact, we were encouraged to wait until we get to Germany even to apply for visas.
What was more concerning was that the officials told us that if it were up to them, they would not grant visas for Lydie and Cassie because we had no proof that they were enrolled in German schools. (My response that my girls already went to “kindergarten” was not well received.) As Lydie blogged a couple of posts ago, we plan to home school the kids so that they can keep up with their studies while we travel. After all, we planned to be in Germany for less than four months. Nevertheless, at least in the view of the German officials we saw on Monday, our plan was kaput.
On Tuesday, we kicked the legal research machine into high gear. I reached out to a good German friend who is a lawyer and to an American lawyer I know who has recently relocated to Munich. I also joined a Facebook group for English-speaking parents in Munich. Everyone agreed that (1) homeschooling is indeed illegal in Germany for “citizens” and “residents,” (2) there should be some sort of exception for people in our situation, and (3) legal support for said exception could not be found. We simply couldn’t find any guarantees that we would receive the needed exception. After some teeth gnashing, hand wringing, and soul searching, we’ve decided that we can’t risk getting to Germany and finding out that Cassie and Lydie will be put into German schools. With time being short, we also cannot keep researching in the hopes of finding an exception.
So….new plan! In order to avoid any visa problems, we will have to shorten our stay in Munich from four months to 8 weeks. Now, in early March, we will head to the UK, where we hope to live in Oxford. Cheerio! Bob’s your uncle! God Save the Queen! In early June we hope to head back to the mainland to visit dear friends in Spain. After that, who knows?