It's official! I have it in my hand.
Many many thanks to the Dutch officials who changed my blotchy color passport photo to black and white. Everyone looks better in b&w. I feel much better flashing my legal status with a decent photo.
It has two lions and a little bull on it!
Granted, I could have picked it up over a month ago and it was official from the time of my application approval, but now that I can physically hold it, I'm much more excited.
It only took 3 months.
The application process consisted of having an apostille/legalized birth certificate. This is easy to do if you still live in the state where you were born. If you moved, you have to visit your birth state or pay a lot of money to have this done via the mail.
Next step, registering at the local Dutch town hall.
With the registration application, the town hall will mail something to the IND (Dutch Immigration office).
The IND will mail something back to the town hall.
The town hall will mail that something to the applicant.
Once received, that something has to be sent by the applicant back to the IND.
It's all really confusing.
I was lucky and able to get help from a wonderful woman at my boyfriend's workplace who filled out the original giant multi-page form and followed through on all the circular mailings.
Oh, and they needed a large fee, payable immediately.
And one more thing! I had to swear that I was unmarried and have it documented and notarized by the consulate. Weird.
They are very concerned about polygamy in the Netherlands.
The final trial was picking up the card from the IND office. After passing through the reception area, I had to cross the path of these gnomes:
As you may know, I hate gnomes.
But, I did it!
It was hard but I pretended they were not creepy, just misunderstood kindly creatures.
On the way out, I observed the disembodied hands 'holding' the seat bench up. I am very glad I didn't see this on the way in. I might not have made it.