You’ve probably seen yesterday’s post about my fifteenth visit to the prefecture. It was one of my most widely read posts in a while. If you’re not friends with me on Facebook, though, you’re probably wondering how it all went and whether you can uncross your fingers now. Well, without further ado, here’s the dénouement you’ve been waiting for …

This time — unlike the last few times I’ve made this little excursion — Michel accompanied me. Since I was applying for a change in my status based on the recognition of our marriage, it made since for him to be there too. I had an appointment — a “convocation” — at 2 pm, so we showed up just after 1 pm with my fat dossier of required documents plus two other files containing every other document I could think of … just in case. When they handed me my “you’re number X” ticket, I was a little disappointed. I was number 0176 and there were 73 persons ahead of me. Based on prior experience, that didn’t bode well for a speedy visit, so Michel and I settled in for the wait … the interminable wait. Perhaps surprisingly for you but not for me, only one out of seven windows was staffed, so the number on the LED screen overhead ticked along at an excruciatingly slow pace. True to form, I became somewhat despondent when, two hours later, only 25 people had been served. I did some quick math, and I was convinced that I’d finally shuffle up to that window at 6:30 pm. Fortunately, though, the pace really picked up. Pretty soon, every window from A to G — plus window H — had opened and the numbers started ticking by at a steady clip. Lesson 1: If you arrive during lunchtime, don’t get lose heart. It gets better mid-afternoon.

“You will be called under the number 0176.”

When number 0176 finally flashed on the screen, Michel and I hurried over to our immigration agent. Compared to some of my prior experiences at the prefecture, it was a pleasant one. For the first time in a long time, it seemed we had everything we needed. Lesson 2: Don’t pack lightly. We did learn that our bank document was useless, though, because our address didn’t appear on it. Lesson 3: It’s probably not worth the effort of dealing with a big French bank to open a checking account a month before your appointment — if you don’t have a relevé bancaire yet, a RIB won’t cut it. (If you don’t live in France, that won’t make any sense, but it’s not important. The target audience knows exactly what I’m talking about.) Thankfully, our tax documents and our electric bill sufficed. The only hiccup was when our agent noticed that our family register and the French transcription of our marriage certificate had been issued in Washington and not at the national document clearinghouse in Nantes. For her, that indicated that perhaps our marriage had not actually been transcribed into the French civil registry. In the end, Michel’s calm, measured logic convinced her that, well no, the French government doesn’t issue “transcriptions” of marriage certificates unless the marriages have been, well, “transcribed.” Whew. Crisis averted.

After being fingerprinted and signing a few forms, she handed me my golden ticket: my newest récépissé — the document that shows that my residency permit is being processed. The permit itself should be ready in January. In the meantime, I have all the rights that come with a “private and family life” visa, not the least of which is …

“[Samuel Michael Bell, etc., etc.] … has requested the modification of his residency permit, the validity of which expires 12/18/2013. This receipt is only valid accompanied by that residency permit # [REDACTED] issued at Bobigny …

[and the all-important words] …


Woohoo! For the first time since arriving in France, I don’t need to get a potential employer to sponsor me for work authorization!


© 2013 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved


12 thoughts on “Dénouement

  1. Hurrah! I can’t believe you’ve been at the prefecture 15 times! Mine chalked up to 5 for now, could have been just 3 except the process is always so slow and I had to travel around the renewal period so I have to go in for a recipisse separately.

    I’ve always gone to Cite but my next appointment (that I got online) is sending me to Barbes so I’m a little anxious about it. We shall see.

    1. Thanks! It’s been a long road, but we’re finally almost there. I’m also interested in seeing how easy it will be to find employment. The economy, as you know, is not up to full steam yet. In any case, I no longer have the “no work authorization” excuse to cover for my laziness in pounding the pavement looking for something! Keep your fingers crossed for me on that score, too!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s