Photo: “valid until October 11, 2011” © 2011 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved
Yesterday marked six weeks since my third visit to the prefecture at Bobigny to renew my residency permit. You may have read my earlier posts here and here about the bureaucratic nightmare that is the renewal process. If not, take a look; it will give some color to this update on the ongoing ordeal. You see, my student visa expired on August 15, and I now carry a récépissé with my passport. It’s a piece of paper with my photo on it issued by the préfecture that proves that I’ve asked for renewal and temporarily extends my legal residency. It was issued during that third visit on July 12 when I dropped off my dossier, complete with a pre-addressed, stamped envelope so someone could send me a notice when my residency permit was ready. The récépissé is valid for three months—until October 11. That’s plenty of time for the French immigration authorities to print up a residency permit and tell me when to come pick it up … right?
Last week, after five weeks of daily disappointment when the letterbox yielded no pre-addressed, stamped envelope from the sub-prefecture, we called to check on my status. First problem: The number provided on the information sheet with my récépissé doesn’t even work—”non-attribué” (not a valid number). Well, that inspires confidence. So we did a few Internet searches and got bounced back and forth among offices (and a recording) until we found another number specifically for questions about the status of residency permit renewals. Awesome! Second problem: That office is only open—get this—Tuesdays, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Must be nice to be the dude with those working hours! Finally, yesterday morning (day 42), we called the number during the magic 3-hour answer window. Third problem: No one picked up the phone.
Next week, we’re supposed to be in Metz for a week to hang out with family and, on September 24, we’re leaving for the United States for two weeks. I have this sinking feeling that, despite all reasonable expectations to the contrary, I may not have my one-shot, “come and get it” appointment for my permit until some time after I’m scheduled to be in the United States. That would be par for the course with this story.
42 days and no response? I mean, come on, that’s longer than the rain that put Noah in the damn ark! That’s longer than Lent! Well, it is August in France, after all, and we all know what that means.
We just got someone on the phone:
Yes, the dossier has been received and registered. Everything is in order.
When can we expect the appointment?
Well, you know, it’s the holidays [translation: the entire month of August], so there’s a delay. I can’t say when.
Okay, thank you very much.
Well, at least Sécurité Sociale will pay for my stomach ulcer surgery.
© 2011 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved