Just before the end of last year, I wrote what was supposed to be “the last chapter” of je parle américain as you know it, because I planned to transform the blog into something entirely new. As it turns out, I haven’t made any progress with that, so je parle américain has been quiet of late, just “sitting on the shelf” collecting dust — to stay with the literary theme. Sometimes, though, events transpire that simply demand you pick up the pen again — or return to the keyboard as the case may be — and actually finish the story …


I’ve lived in France as an immigrant now for more than four and half years. During that time, I’ve seen some phenomenal changes in my life, most of which I’ve shared with you: becoming bilingual in another language, maneuvering a radical career change from lawyer to English teacher, going from “married, but not recognized” to holding a “private and family life” visa and — just this week — suddenly being liberated from the onerous burden of immigration bureaucracy.

That’s right, after all those articles I’ve written for you about the bureaucratic nightmare of being an immigrant in Seine-Saint-Denis … about standing in line for hours on end in the cold and rain just to schedule an appointment to come back two months later … about not being able to plan a vacation because that elusive convocation to pick up your residency permit might come while you’re away … about the reams of paper you go through to have every document you might possibly need and still being shy one crucial piece of paper … about the typographical errors that result in getting a residency permit that’s already expired … yes, after all of that, I’m finally writing to tell you that the headache is over. On Wednesday, the 4th of March 2015 at 11:50am, after 21 — yes, TWENTY-ONE — visits to the prefecture or the sub-prefecture, the French Republic gave me …

une carte de résident de 10 ans •  a 10-year residency card!

Sound the trumpets!

To be honest, I was sort of expecting it. Technically speaking, I was eligible for the status, and when I submitted my renewal application in December, I knew that my file would automatically be reviewed for it. But, after my track record with the immigration system here, I wasn’t holding my breath. Only when I got the SMS on Friday notifying me that the card would be ready for pick-up on Wednesday did I allow myself to hope for the best, especially given the amount I had to pay for it.

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 7.27.19 PM

I showed up for my appointment an hour and ten minutes early and, because no one else was waiting, I was able to go straight to the counter to pick up my new card. I was nervous, I admit, and when I handed over my passport, my récépissé, my old card, and the 260€ in revenue stamps, I couldn’t bring myself to ask the nagging question that was going to be answered imminently anyway: “Excuse me, is it a 10-year card?” Even when I was handed the paperwork to sign, I was so anxious I couldn’t focus on the fine print to locate the expiration date. It wasn’t until I had the new card in my hand and was able to study it in detail that my anxiety gave way first to relief and then to elation …

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 7.20.31 PM


Ten years! Ten years of no more visits to the prefecture! Ten years of the tranquility to live my life and decide what to do next! I called Michel, sent messages to my mom, to my closest friends here in Paris, and even to a few clients, and then posted a status update on Facebook (of course!). Then, it was off to the supermarket for that all-important bottle of Veuve Clicquot …


So .. what is next? Good question. Probably an application for dual citizenship. Since we want to move to the US sometime in the next few years and live there for a while, I really want to be able to come back to France afterwards as a Frenchman returning home and not as an immigrant who’s required to go through this whole process yet again. It may not be the loftiest of motivations, but it’s true. But — obviously — that’s a story for another day. And so with that, je parle américain once again closes the book, thanks you for your readership, and wishes you the best!

À la prochaine

© 2015 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved

10 thoughts on “Afterword

  1. Woohoo! Love this, and congratulations! I’m so interested in this… how was your file automatically renewed? When I last renewed mine (at the 3 year mark), I asked if I would be able to apply for the 10 year card at my next renewal (the 4th year bringing me to 5th year), and they told me “no” because I had not been here under the same visa for the entire length of time… so I’m pretty stressed! Anyway perhaps this is a conversation best-saved for email, but if you feel like blogging any of those details, I’d love to read up!

    1. Thanks! I’m ecstatic. I still take the card out of my wallet from time to time and look lovingly at that expiration date! Ha ha! It wasn’t renewed automatically automatically, but it was reviewed automatically for the 10-year status. As I understand it, because I’m married to a French citizen and we’ve been married for more than 3 years, the application was automatically reviewed for the 10-year status. Who knows though? Maybe it’s a crapshoot? Good luck! I hope it goes well for you. I certainly know how stressful it can be! Fingers crossed for you!

  2. Congratulations. I will miss your posts and your adventures with the French bureaucracy. Best wishes to you and your husband.

  3. Just going to the French consulate in San Francisco for my grand-kids fills me with anxiety 🙂 but when I see how difficult it is to get French citizenship and they can get theirs automatically, it’s worth the time and aggravation ! Keep in touch, if you can.

  4. Such wonderful news! I’m just delighted for you and Michel and hope we’ll continue to hear from you…I have truly missed your posts. We finally got our cartes vitale after tgree years! X

    1. Thanks so much! It’s been a long road. Congrats to you on the cartes vitales — what a ridiculous wait for you! I can’t promise many posts, but there will certainly be some from time to time, so stayed tuned. 🙂

  5. Congrats on your 10-year card! I’m picking mine up this week and wrote a post on the process (laughable at this point but maddening during). Hopefully they didn’t lose it! Anyway, enjoying your blog! All the best

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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 )

Connecting to %s