Tomorrow, I’m heading back to the Prefecture. I’ll be submitting an application to renew my residency permit — this time with a change in status from “student” to “private and family life.” Thanks to the Taubira Law that gave us marriage equality in France and the paper-pushing magic of the French embassy in Washington, Michel and I were officially recognized as a family on September 17. We got our family register and a French transcription of our 2010 marriage certificate a few weeks later. Should be pretty simple, then, to get that family visa. Right? We should just have to show them the family register. Right? You know — the document from the French government that PROVES we’re married to each other? Well, if you think that, then you’ve obviously never dealt with the bureaucracy here …
It turns out that I had to assemble an entire dossier in addition to the family register, including:
✔ My current residency permit, my current passport, and the big, yellow sticker from the Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration pasted in my old passport that no one has even looked at since I got here in 2010.
✔ Documentary proof that I live where I say I live. I’m using the last letter I got from Sécurité Sociale — the French national healthcare system. That looks pretty official to me.
Now, I know what you’re thinking at this point: all of that is completely normal, nothing out of the ordinary. But, it gets better …
✔ Yet another copy of my birth certificate (translated by a sworn, certified translator, of course) because … um, my birthday might have changed since I gave them the last copy?
✔ Documentary proof that Michel is really French and that the accent and his penchant for Camembert is not just an act. We’re using his passport. Thankfully THAT official government document is good enough to prove his citizenship and we don’t need a whole separate dossier on him!
✔ A minimum of two official documents that demonstrate that Michel and I have a “communauté de vie” (a “communal life”). We’re using our tax returns, proof of our joint bank account (and that’s a whole other story), and — just in case — our electric bill and my last renewal for Sécurité Sociale, which lists Michel as my spouse. Apparently, you can’t just be married — you have to be playing house, too.
So that’s already a couple dozen pages. But, wait! There’s more. There’s also …
✔ My attestation of non-polygamy on French soil. Yes — my official declaration that I’m not keeping multiple husbands (or wives, for that matter) somewhere here in France.
The good news is that all the documents are signed, scanned, copied, and ready for presentation tomorrow afternoon. The only thing that causes me indigestion is the ominous warning in bold at the bottom of the laundry list of what must be included:
“Only files that are complete will be accepted at the window.”
I’m even bringing multiple documents they haven’t even asked for — just in case — but please, PLEASE, don’t let me forget the self-addressed, stamped envelope tomorrow!
Wish me luck and cross your fingers!
P.S. — In case you’re wondering about the title: this will be my fifteenth visit to the Prefecture since April 2011. True story.
© 2013 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved