Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Document Overload!

Around and around we go….

Getting prepared for our meeting at the French Consulate required tons of organization, printing, emails and collecting. Lots of stress and a dining room table covered in papers…

 This was just the beginning - it was completely covered by the end

 Here is the list of documents required for a Long Stay Visa application according to the French Consulate website for each applicant (we needed 3 packets – 1 for myself, 1 for R and 1 for C):
  1. One application form (English version) filled out completely and signed by the applicant.
  2. One ID picture glued/stapled onto the application form
    1. Had to go to Walgreen’s to take new pictures with neutral facial expressions – no headbands, jewelry, etc.
  3. Original passport or travel document + ONE COPY of the identity pages.
  4. Letter promising not to engage in any employment in France (signature certified by a notary public)
    1. E&Y wrote it in French for me.
    2. Had to take it to UPS to get notarized.
  5. Letter of employment in the US stating occupation and earnings
    1. We gave a copy of S’s employment contract
  6. Proof of means of income - letter from the bank, investment certificates, pension slips…
    1. Gave copies of bank statements, added letter from S’s company that they are paying for housing & schooling in France, notarized letter from Sean saying he is supporting his family…
                                               i.     Official said to Sean “it is good that you will be supporting your family” with a smile.
  1. Proof of medical insurance
    1. This was a fun one we spun in circles for awhile trying to get. Luckily it ended up that S’s company was negotiating a new International contract with Cigna (which we currently have), so it all worked out at the last minute. We needed to make sure the proof of insurance from Cigna mentioned France specifically in the coverage.
  2. Marriage certificate or family book + Birth certificates for children
    1. We had to show the originals with the apostilles attached, and left them with copies of marriage certificate and birth certificates of all 3 of us.
  3. Proof of accommodation in France (title deeds, lease or rental agreement)
    1. This was the tricky one – why would we have accommodations in France now if we aren’t even sure if we are getting the Visa! So we had to figure out some work-arounds. We got an “official” letter from the relocation company saying that we had retained their services to find us a rental. We provided the letter from S’s company saying that they are paying for the rental. We also made a month-long reservation at a hotel in France. The official at the consulate hesitated a bit at this, but ended up seeming fine with the solution. This is just a really strange thing to ask for – I guess it’s mostly for people who are moving over the France to live with someone else.
  4. Processing fees
    1. It cost $138 each for the fees.
  5. One residence form duly filled out (upper part only) – also called the OFII form
    1. These will need to be sent to the appropriate place once we are in France in our residence.
  6. E-Ticket or reservation confirmation email showing the date of departure to Europe.
    1. Another strange request – why would we book a flight to Europe if we don’t even know if we an go! We booked 3 totally refundable flights so that we can cancel them. We booked our departure as of December 1st, since that was 1 month out from our appointment at the Consulate. In reality we will leave later than that, but we wanted to give them an earlier date to work towards.
  7. A self-addressed prepaid EXPRESS MAIL envelope from the US POST OFFICE ONLY - NO FEDEX / UPS / AIRBORNE EXPRESS accepted.
    1. We had this with us, but then the official asked if we would rather return and pick up our passports ourselves. Absolutely!

In addition to the above items, E&Y had given us a list of documents that we needed, which turned out to be useless. They sure didn’t add much value to the whole process, and in fact, E&Y missed many of the items that we really did need. Thank goodness we checked the Consulate website ourselves. Too bad S’s company has paid them a lot of $$ to help us though this process – we ended up doing most of it on our own!
  1. Long Stay Visa application to be completed, dated and signed (we also attach an English version for ease of reference only - please note that only the French version should be completed)
    1. We did not complete this form in French as the Consulate website specified English
  2. 2 passport size photographs taken within the last 3 months (loose not glued ) - (1.36 x 1.75 inches - on a white background, front view, neutral expression, bare-head and no dark glasses)
    1. We only needed 1 attached to the application
  3. Certified translations of our marriage and birth certificates.
    1. We hired someone to do this for us who was listed on the Consulate website. She was super fast and responsive. But they didn’t need these for this appointment at all. Maybe we will need them in France.
  4. A Letter of Motivation in French from me basically stating why I want to live in France.
    1. When we offered this to the Consulate official, he basically laughed saying “isn’t obvious why someone would want to live in France?” and refused to take it. Maybe I will need it in France.
  5. Letter of acceptance and Student registration at the American School of Paris
    1. He didn’t care about this at all.

We were very nervous for this appointment as our future kind of hinges on it, and we were probably over prepared for it - but that was much better than being under prepared. The official turned out to be very nice, friendly and helpful – he definitely appreciated how organized we were & that every time he asked for some document, we had it ready for him. He of course could not give us a “yes” or “no” right then, but S thinks the implication was that we will be approved. He also told us that our passports will be ready to be picked up in 1 week to 10 days! That’s way earlier than the month we were expecting. So all the drama about where we will be moving could be settled soon. Woo hoo!

We had to schedule 3 half-hour appointments at the consulate – one at 11:00am, one at 11:30am and one at 12:00pm. We pulled the girls out of school and headed up there around 10:15am. We were early for our appointment, but there was only one person ahead of us, so we got seen before 11am. He did all the documents at once, and we were done at 11:10am. Probably only took 20-30 minutes! He didn’t even speak to the girls, just took their pictures. While Sean & I were dealing with the documents, the kids got a kick out of watching the French show on tv that seemed to be some sort of crazy sketch show.

Since we were done early, we took a walk through Chinatown and then down to the Financial District to have lunch at a place where Sean & I used to eat (separately) when we worked downtown – a little French bistro named Cafè Bastille. We treated it as a bit of a celebration lunch even though there is nothing definite to celebrate yet. At least one big giant step is completed! Keep your fingers crossed, and you know I'll be jumping every time the phone rings!

1 comment:

  1. Hello,
    Thank you for the detailed list! I'm retired, want to spend a year or two living in France, and am assembling documents for the long stay visa application. I'll schedule my interview and submit the application at the San Francisco consular office. Thanks again!