Saturday, February 26, 2011

Our Carte de Séjours

When we moved to France for the first time back in 2008, we got our Long Stay Visa and then had to go to the Prefecture within 3 months of arriving in France to get our  carte de séjour, which is a residency card.  But this time it's a different process.

From the 1st of June 2009, long stay visa holders will be allowed to reside in France for up to 12 months according to the validity of their visa and purpose of stay. They will no longer be required to obtain a residence permit (carte de séjour) from the French local authorities (préfecture) as long as their visa is valid. However, they will have to apply for a carte de séjour at the préfecture if they intend to stay for more than a year or if they are renewing a resident permit such as vie privée et familiale.

What we had to do this time was register with the French Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII). Once we arrived we had to make a copy of our passport page showing when we entered France, copy of our passport, our address in France, the residence form that was included with our visa application, stamped by the consulate when they granted our visa and we had to send it in to OFII.  Then we had to wait until we heard from them.  We sent ours in November 1st, 2010 and 2 weeks ago we received the letter from them with our appointment time of Friday 25th of February at 1:30.  We would have a medical exam and a chest x-ray (to rule out TB) and an interview.

We brought with us:
* passport,
* a proof of accommodation in France (lease, utility bill, etc),
* one ID picture (of your head only),
* payment for the processing fees of 55 € for workers and students or 340 € for visitors.  Yes,         340 € for each of us!  What you have to do is visit the Trésor Public to get "timbres" which   are stamps with a value, get enough to cover the 340 euros and bring them with you.

We were in Spain 3 days leading up to our appointment and we tried to re-schedule it, but here is where being here in frustrating.  We called the office no less then 15 times trying to get a hold of someone.  It would ring 2 times, you'd get a message saying they'll be right with you, the message would play 3 times and then you'd get disconnected.  It happened over and over and over.  Argh!  So we cut our climbing trip short by 3 days to make the appointment.

The office we went to was in Toulouse.  We arrived at 1:30 and we thought we'd have to wait forever, but we were pleasantly surprised with how smooth things went.  1:30 we went in, 1:35 we had our interview, 1:50 we had our x-ray, 2:00 we met with the Doctor, 2:15 we met with the final person who reviewed all our documents, asked a few questions and placed our new carte de séjour on one of the pages in our passport and by  2:30 we were out of there.  Amazing!  I guess you pay the big bucks for service, although they could answer their damn phone.

So, we are official...for 1 year.  We plan to stay after the 1 year, so in August we need to visit the Préfecture in Montauban and request another year.  I'm not sure it will go as smoothly, I have heard it could be a nightmare and a long day, but I won't worry about that until August.  Right now I'm just glad we have our carte de séjours.

When I was in with the nurse for the medical interview I heard Bruce talking to someone in English.  When I went out into the waiting room he was talking to a couple and he told me they were American and introduced me.  He then told me they were from California, from Los Angeles and actually lived about 2 miles from where we did.  Small small world.  They are retired and just moved here in September and live about 20 minutes from St. Antonin.  They are hoping to stay too.  The didn't speak French, so we helped them with what was going to happen during the appointment (because they people at OFII didn't speak English).  Lovely couple and I'm sure we'll see them again soon.


Megan said...

But maybe you don't want to post your personal info (last name, address,etc) online.
I seem to remember my first carte de sejour was relatively easy too. It's all the times after that that they get 'ya.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Now that was certainly quick service .. but they could of answered the phone .. and How great that you got to help this lovely couple too .. :-)

Nadege said...

You were either lucky or things have changed a lot. I should go to the french consulate in LA and ask for my identity card and european passport. I haven't renewed them since they expired 30 years ago. I am still french as far as I know. I even have a "livret de famille".

La Vie est Belle said...

What kind of long stay visa do you have? You run a business so it seems it would be one that allows you to work. Was that complicated to obtain?