Sunday, January 19, 2014

Official French Paperwork - Carte de Sejour - VISA update

Fountain of the 3 Graces - Front of La Bourse - Bordeaux

Expat VISA/Carte de Sejour - a refreshing experience

Just returned from a fun long weekend with my mother in Paris...if you follow me on instagram, facebook or twitter, you would have enjoyed some fun videos and photos that I posted while we were there.  I will write a brief post about our experience and what we packed into 3 days shortly.  We found some great deals, I can also pass on some great tips and I even got to "officially" meet a blogger friend who lives near Paris...but I will save all of that for another post.

I actually want to give some "Kudos" to the French - yes, you read that right - for as many times as I and others complain about the French bureaucracy and paperwork that is so OFTEN required with whatever you may be doing, my experience last Monday at our local Prefecture (Gironde) was fast, efficient and easy.

Place de La Bourse - Love this beautiful city & Country

I will back up a bit - You may remember reading my post about renewing our American passports here in Bordeaux and I compared it to my process of handing in paperwork for my carte de sejour ( HERE ) - which, at the time,  I was still waiting to get an appointment.

So, in the middle of the Christmas vacation, 6 weeks after I handed in my paperwork,  my letter from the French Prefecture finally arrived with the day and time of my appointment.  That appointment was last Monday - at 10:10 am.

My husband & I arrived at the Prefecture about 10 am.  Gone was the big huge line on the right of people processing immigration paperwork or just waiting to ask a question about their process. There were plenty of people in the lobby, but the security guards kept pointing them to the side where documentation was available explaining what was needed to receive an appointment.  We showed security that we had an appointment and then asked at the Reception desk where to go - I was pointed to small seating area and told that someone would come out.  Sure enough, 5 minutes later a young man came and asked  my name.  He checked me off on his list and then asked me to move to another seating area.  Within a few more minutes, I was directed to a designated window for my appointment.

The woman at the window, had my dossier (folder of personal documentation) that I had handed in back in November and asked for the remaining documentation.  This documentation had been explained in the letter and was straightforward and simple - Copies of School Certifications for the girls & a copy of our 2012 taxes.  She also asked to see our original passports (my husbands and mine) and our Livret de Famille.  (Now, have to share a little luck here - I actually forgot our Livret de Famille (she had copies)- but she decided that since this was a renewal & I would just have to come back for another appointment that she would let it go. Whew- Sigh of relief here -Thank you, lord!)  We both signed some more documentation and then she proceeded to take my fingerprints and order my 10 year Carte de Sejour.  I was given a temporary piece of paper as I wait for my official Carte de Sejour to arrive - hopefully in a couple months.  There are many different kinds of VISAs for living in France and everyone's situation is a bit different - requiring various paperwork.  As my husband is a French citizen, I fall under the spousal VISA category and for this case, I was doing a renewal - additionally, since we have been married longer than 3 years - I could apply for a 10 year stay VISA.

We walked out of the Prefecture at 10:30 am.  Impressive!  Way to go France - I like that kind of speed and efficiency! So refreshing!
Bordeaux - A great place to Live!!

This experience is in contrast to my first application last year - when they did not do appointments.  I was luckily then to be able to hand in all of my paperwork at our local police station but had to make 2 trips to the Prefecture to finish the process and both times I waited in line from 8:30 am to at least 11 am or later.  That was ridiculous!  So KUDOS to you Prefecture - Gironde!  I am impressed with the new procedures and your appointment system.  I also have to add that there was plenty of information available both in the lobby of the Prefecture and on-line to explain their new system.  Maybe there is hope for some changes to the French bureaucracy or maybe next year they will just change it again??? I hope for the former - happy to be able to officially stay here!


  1. I am very impressed too! Congratulations and I hope it is not only in Gironde but all departements in France are as efficient.

    1. I was skeptical at first in October when I saw they had changed everything from my process a year ago - but once I found the list of what I needed (which was on-line & in the lobby) and other than the wait of almost 2 months - it was very smooth. I too, hope other Prefectures are following the same procedures - Paris may be different of, course being so large...but here's hope!! Thank for commenting - always nice to hear from you.

  2. So happy it went well for you! I've had some horrible experiences with the French embassy in America but the workers at the prefecture in Gironde have been pretty nice and helpful. Visas are a pain though!

    1. Yes, they are...I too had some very stressful experiences at the French Embassy in NYC - enough so I just try to carry every single document that I would think they might want with me when I's like you never know what they want!! Thanks for commenting - looks like you are enjoying the area.

  3. Very impressive! These things can all too easily develop into an administrative nightmare, glad to hear it went well!


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