28 November 2005

There's no bureaucracy like French bureaucracy...

Let's talk about bureaucracy today. I know, everyone in the US can complain about the bureaucracy there. But, at least there you can usually count on things being consistent!

For those of you considering living in France for a year, here's the 13-step process you have to look forward to. Hmmm...13 steps...does that mean it's tougher than beating alcoholism?

1) Spend two months gathering all of the documents requested (plan ahead for your FBI files).

2) Submit documents and wait up to four months for a response (make sure that August isn't one of those months, since the French government will be on vacation).

3) After arriving, show up at local commissariat with the same papers you submitted for the visa. If you're lucky, you'll only have to wait about an hour to get in, but you might have to wait for a couple hours just to get in the front door.

4) At the commissariat, the person at the welcome desk will review your paperwork. Note that you may have to wait one to two hours to talk to this person. Depending on who's working the desk that day, you may be asked for a variety of papers, come prepared with everything (including your income tax records and those of your parents for the previous year; they actually asked a friend of mine for this).

5) With the welcome desk's approval, you will be allowed to wait for an interview. This wait may take from an hour to 2 days, just depends. If they give you an appointment time for another day, realize that the day matters but not the time. You will still have to wait to get in the front door and then will have to wait an hour or more for your interview. Depending on who you meet with, you could be asked for a variety of documents (don't forget a copy of your undergraduate transcript; they actually asked a friend of mine for this, even though he was four years into a doctorate at the time). If all goes well, you will receive a blue titre provisoire (which, like your arrival visa, expires after three months) and an appointment time for your second interview.

6) The appointment time doesn't matter. Just show up at the Préfecture first thing in the morning on the appointed day. When you arrive, you show up at the welcome desk, having filled out a form that summarizes all of your important information (name, address, phone number, spouse, children, parents, next-of-kin, etc).

7) While waiting, realize that you are the bottom of the totem pole. All of the people applying for work visas will be called ahead of you (the students and researchers go elsewhere for their second appointment). After an hour or two, or maybe more, you will be called for your interview (listen closely, at least two of the interviewers seemed to have laryngitis when I went for this last Thursday). Depending on who's interviewing you, you could be asked for a variety of documents (don't forget copies of your parents' insurance cards, regardless of whether you are covered by that insurance policy; yes, they asked a friend for this, too).

8) Toward the end of the interview, you will be sent to another desk to make an appointment for your medical exam and third (final?) interview.

9) After making the appointment, you will go back to your interviewer, who will read your appointment day and time to you (never mind that the person at the other desk discussed that topic with you and then handed you a sheet with the appointment information printed on it). You will then receive a blue titre provisoire (identical to the previous one), which is valid for three months.

10) A few days after the appointment, you will receive a letter informing you that, at the medical exam, you will be expected to pay a 220 euro tax to help fund the agency that provides these exams for the government.

11) [This part is all second-hand, since my third interview isn't until December 19.] You show up at a clinic for your medical exam. They take a chest x-ray, to confirm that you don't have tuberculosis. You will be asked to show a booklet with your immunization records. Evidently, it will suffice to bring along a letter from your mommy confirming which vaccinations you have had. Or (as happened to friend of mine), the doctor might just ask, "Are you vaccinated, yes or no?" and then ask for no further details.

12) One more interview, during which a person reviews the documents that you have already shown to get your visa and to get both of your titres provisoires. Never mind that these documents have already been reviewed by no fewer than five different people.

13) Finally, you pay your 220 euro tax and receive your titre de sejour, which is valid for one year (but is renewable, so you only have to do a portion of the process over again).

[Side note from Amy: I can't WAIT until I reach step number 6 ... in January!]


At 28/11/05 21:21, Anonymous annie said...

do you still have to pay the tax if you have already left the country by the time you reach step 13?

At 29/11/05 04:31, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's really intriguing is the fact that France only cares about tuberculosis but virtually any other infectious disease doesn't really pertain to your visa.


At 29/11/05 12:47, Blogger croust said...

Following up on Ryan's comment, you might notice that I will have been in France for 4 and a half months before they check me for tuberculosis! No wonder there was a big tuberculosis scare a couple weeks ago...


At 30/11/05 20:40, Anonymous Annie said...

When you go to have your medical exam, I double dare you to tell them that previous to coming to Paris you lived in China, where you worked on a bird farm and that you came to paris because all the birds suddently died and the company went out of business. then cough a few times in the doctor's face

At 24/3/09 18:00, Anonymous Ingrid said...

Try the German bureaucracy, it's much "better"then the French. Settling in Bavaria left me dreaming about how simple things were back in France (where I lived for over a year) :)


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