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EU, self-employed, work/student visas, partridges in pear trees, etc.

This will be long, I'm sorry! TL;DR - American in Spain trying to figure out if there's a visa in existence that would help me stay in Europe between the end of our military orders (Dec 2018) and my husband's retirement (May 2020).

Hi, I'm Lori. I'm an American currently living in Spain on military orders (my husband is the service member). Our tour ends in late 2018, and he retires in mid-2020. We've basically fallen in love with Europe.

So, we'd like to stay. We're not 100% settled on where, though, so a lot of things are up in the air.  Which is why my questions will be a bit vague at this point; we're still figuring out exactly where we're going and what we're doing.  Our top pick right now is Germany, followed by Spain, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Portugal...not necessarily in that order.

When my husband retires, he's in a good position to get a job in cyber security or a similar field. He's made some contacts and has some good prospects in Berlin, Madrid, and a few other places. Once he retires, getting a job and the requisite visas looks promising. He only speaks English, but the prospective employers haven't been concerned. So our immediate concern is not his post-retirement employment.

Here's the main issue we're trying to overcome: the 18-month gap between the end of his orders and his retirement. He will have to go wherever the Navy sends him during that time. Under normal circumstances, I'd go with him, but we're trying to figure out if there's a way I can stay on this side of the Atlantic until he's retired. It'll be a hell of a lot cheaper for me to stay over here than to move all our stuff back to the US, then move it BACK here a year or so later.  I'd rather move from Spain to Germany than the US to Germany, you know? And quite frankly I don't want to go back to the US during that time because...*flails hands at political coverage*

ANYWAY. You can imagine that the logistics have us scratching our heads a bit. We're trying to figure out if there's a feasible way for me to continue to live in the EU for the 18-month gap. I can afford to move within the EU; it's the visa and legalities that are a concern. We have no kids, so it would just be me.

I'm...sort of self-employed? I'm basically an independent contractor working for some publishers and Amazon. I make more than enough to live on, and my job moves with me. What I'm trying to figure out is how to live over here legally and continue to work. One thing we've considered is having me enroll in a university, but as I understand it, you usually can't work on student visas.  Most work visas seem to want an employment contract and proof of income, but I don't have the former and only have the latter in the form of tax documents (I don't get a traditional paycheck, just royalty payments). We've even looked into golden visas, and are seriously considering one for Portugal or Spain...but buying real estate is a pretty big financial commitment when we don't know for sure if we'll want to *stay* there. Basically, each visa we've looked into winds up "This could work...but."

So at this point, I guess I'm trying to figure out what my options are. ARE there visas in existence that would work for my situation? Is there a solution somewhere that I've completely overlooked? Any thoughts/input/experiences/etc?

(We're getting in touch with some immigration lawyers and such; I'm just putting out feelers here in case anyone has experience or insight we might not think of. And it's totally okay if you're just speaking from the perspective of the country you know about; I wouldn't expect anyone to have all this memorized for every EU country or anything! lol)

Sorry for being so vague! Like I said, we're still fairly early in the pondering stage of this whole thing.

Thanks in advance!
Lori

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