This blog is about the adventures of a software developer from Amsterdam who is now living in Nice and working in Sophia Antipolis, on the Côte d'Azur.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Residence permit

Cristina has finally been able to succesfully apply for a residence permit, known as Carte de Séjour ! Even if this is only the application, it already grants her the rights to work in France, and to stay longer than 3 months in the "Schengen" countries. If all goes as expected she'll receive the final document around New Year.

It was not at all so easy to get to this stage. To apply for such documents, you have to go to the Prefecture and take part in the race to get heard that day. Everyday there are many more people than they can help during their limited opening hours. After various visits I now think the best strategy is to join the queue around 08:00 (one hour before they open), try to get as much in front as you can (abandoning your sense of civility) and when the doors open, run as fast as you can to the room where the queue will form again.

The first step then is to get past the "document check". After a few visits where we were actually organizing all necessary documents, came the time we really had everything ready. This time, at the document check there was a particularly badly educated woman who refused to help us further other than claiming that Cristina would need a long term visa, which you can only get in Brazil and which takes some 6 months to be issued. She turned us down with a malevolent indulgent smile that makes you want to !

The information she gave us, however, is false, which was confirmed by both the French consulate in Brasilia and by the telephone information line of the Prefecture Alpes-Maritimes itself. The long term visa requirement goes for French citizens with a non-EU partner; but I am of course a European Citizen, living in another country than where I was born. You may find it strange but in this case different laws apply, namely those of the EU, rather than those of the country where you happen to be. So, the next day we went back; this time there was a most friendly young man at the document check. He however also believed Cristina'd need a long term visa. I entered a yes-no discussion that lasted quite awhile until he went to the back to ask advice, and some fifteen minutes later returned smiling saying, OK, you go ahead to the second desk. This is where you actually do the application.

And who was working at the second desk? Yesterday's witch !! She of course recognized us, exploded with rage, and managed to utter "who let you through here ?". I pointed out the nice young man. She grabbed our passports and without a word, raced to the back, steaming with anger. We were left sitting at the desk for one whole hour with no information (and no coffee) when her boss came by, saying sorry, we were right, and it's all his fault. After this the witch finished the application without saying more than the bare necessary.

So hopefully now all will be well; as you can see in the document below, the residence application is for 10 years ! This seems to be quite unusual (normally it'd be 1 or at most 3). Must be because the witch never wants to see our face again !

Although I do think it is a sad circumstance that people in the immigration office either don't know the law, or wilfully obstruct it. This lawlessness happens all the time in Holland (see this site (in Dutch)) but France generally seems to be less xenophobic than Holland; then again at times like this it doesn't look that way.


Anonymous vince said...

wat een verhaal. wat een bitch.


Blogger Clara said...

Congratulations on the carte de séjour and also for your birthday (belated)!


Anonymous Doug (french property blogger) said...

Hi. I run a blog about French property and I was just looking around at other blogs for inspiration and came accross yours.

I agree about the French bureaucracy. They seem to be a law unto themselves (they have huge personal descretion), half of them don't seem to know what they are doing and the paperwork is terrible. After living here for 5 years (I'm from the UK) I've taken the following approach:
- Check the English blogs/discussion boards to find the truth
- Go to the prefecture in my best clothes and a healthy bank statement so that I look like a desireable citizen
- Try to get on their good side, because I know that it is them (not the rules) that decide
- Be very patient as otherwise the stress is not good



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