The Anatomy of a Visa Renewal

I took some of my Facebook friends by surprise yesterday morning when I posted that I was back at the prefecture. Why are you there AGAIN?! was one very legitimate reaction. After all, wasn’t I just at the prefecture two months ago? And two months before that? And two months bef … well, you get the picture.

Lately, I have been frequenting the prefecture like someone who’s stalking an immigration agent. As a matter of fact, yesterday’s visit was my fifth to the prefecture since last May. (No wonder I have the dubious honor of being FourSquare “mayor” of the Préfecture de Seine-Saint-Denis.) I’ve also written quite a lot about these interminable and sometimes surreal visits over the last several months. That makes for a lot of words to sift through if you’re new to my story or if you’re — <gulp> — searching for advice about your own visit. “Why not break it down visually into a couple of nice flowcharts?” I thought. “Not a bad idea,” I decided. So, after a few hours last night finding just the right text boxes and arrows, I present to you …

The Anatomy of a Visa Renewal:
A graphic depiction of the visa renewal process,
with just enough humor to make you chuckle …
and just enough reality to make you anxious.

 Phase I: The first visit (click image to view full-size)

Click for full-sized image.

Phase II: After getting in the door (click image to view full-size)

Click for full-size image

Don’t know what a titre de séjour or a récépissé is?
Click here for a quick primer.

The upshot of yesterday’s 5-hour visit is that my dossier is now finally complete, I got a new récépissé good for three more months without really having to ask for it, and they were — unexpectedly — rather nice to me. I didn’t read my horoscope yesterday morning, but I assume that the stars were aligned just so for all the Tauruses out there trying to renew their visas. One of my friends had a more likely take on what had happened: “Maybe they’re starting to recognize you when you walk in and they gave you a break.”

In any case, I’m now waiting for my new carte de séjour which should be ready in about two months. Two months after that, guess what? It’ll be time to go right back and start the process all over again! Good thing I’ve got these flowcharts to help me through it, I guess.

For further reading on the travails of immigration in Seine-Saint-Denis, check out these other posts:

© 2013 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved


7 thoughts on “The Anatomy of a Visa Renewal

  1. Hello. I am not sure how I came across your blog, but I am very glad that I did! (I am a fellow American.) I have just relocated to Paris to be with my French boyfriend (this past Saturday). For the last year, I had a job in Nice and dealt with the prefecture there (only once did I shed tears). I guess that I am on a tourist visa now (as my carte de sejour scientifique expired 5 days ago), and we are deciding as to how to proceed (family or tourist). As you can imagine, I am a bit intimidated by the Paris Prefecture (actually, the prospect scares the living day lights out of me). I enjoyed very much your depictions above of the Prefecture visits (“laughter through tears”). I wish you the best of luck and thanks again for the chuckles. -Jennifer

    1. Hi Jennifer, thanks so much for the comment. I’m very happy that you discovered my blog as well! As you might have seen, I write a good bit about the headache of French bureaucracy — especially in the immigration context. I wish you the best of luck with your process! It can be supremely frustrating, but when it’s for love, it’s definitely worth it! 🙂

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