|A snow covered wing prevents the plane from leaving the|
Toronto Airport. The last obstacle between me and Paris.
Bonjour mes Amis!
To establish myself in Paris, I decided that the proper path was the Long Stay Visa entitled the “Visitors / Staying in France without working nor studying” version. As I mentioned before, the list of paperwork required is lengthy, requiring up to separate bits of paperwork (I’ve posted a link to the list here: http://www.consulfrance-vancouver.org/spip.php?article409 ).
Please note that this list is different than the list for French consulates on American soil, or other kinds of soil. You must have the list that is specific to the consulate in which you are applying. If you use the wrong list, your visa appointment will be very, very brief and unsuccessful (as my first appointment was).
Now for the paperwork; if you’ve clicked the link above you have seen the list of 14 things. Here are my observations about this list:
- You will need RCMP Police clearance or a Number . This is probably the hardest bit of paperwork to get back in a hurry and should be the first thing you apply for. I was “lucky” to be in Saskatchewan at the time and submitted my information, which included electronically read fingerprints for a fee of $75. This slightly higher fee got my clearance note back in 10 days. If you submit your paperwork with the old fashioned inky fingerprints you can wait as long as 3-4 months to get your clearance back. Note: If you have a blemish on your criminal record, you will need a pardon. If this is the case, Google Canadian pardons and then find a lawyer to help. I have no idea how hard it is to get a pardon or how long it takes, but I’m sure that without one, your dream to live in Paris will end right here at point #1.
- The last bit of paperwork may be very difficult (Number ). If you have kids that you want to bring along on your adventure, you must find schools for them. You’ll have to Google this on your own, since I have no idea how easy/hard this might be. If you find a school online and manage to place your child, simply ask them to scan and send you a set of .PDF’s for your child’s enrollment information.
- Number  and  kind of go together, since you may be going to the same source for both depending on your situation. You basically have to prove that you can live in Paris (France) and not starve or be forced to sell water and/or umbrellas at the Louvre. This may mean a letter from your Canadian employer or client explaining that they have plenty of work for you. This may mean that you can show a bank balance of at least $25K (this is a guess) or more per person. You may have a trust fund or a retirement pension or some other form of income that generates at least $1800 per person and will continue to do so for the one year period of the visa. You will also have to provide bank statements, income tax receipts, etc. to show that you actually did get the money promised by the employer, client, or other source of income.
- Numbers  and  are for health insurance and civil liability insurance, respectively. You may have insurance up the wazoo, but they French government may not recognize your insurance company. This is always a bit of a gamble. To be sure, you can insure yourself with these guys: http://www.france-insurance.com/index.php They got me insured and sent me a set of .PDF’s that I needed for my application very promptly.
- Your living conditions are the concern of  and , which is renting vs. staying with a friend, respectively. The best plan is to go for . Ask a friend to let you stay with them until you find a permanent apartment (which is nearly impossible to get before you get here). Make sure you get the friend’s ID cards, lease or proof of home ownership, and an electric bill or whatever proves that they have the ability to host you. They must also sign a letter that makes the offer.
- If you have no friends, I recommend you sign a 3 month lease (at least 3 months) with a short term vacation rental place. I’ve personally used these guys: http://www.nyhabitat.com/paris-apartment.html, but there are many, many others.
- You need 3 recent and identical photographs, formatted 35mm X 45mm. This is an inconvenient format and an inconvenient number to need since most passport photos come in pairs. Make sure that you get this right. They provide a PDF with the correct sizes for the photo and your head inside the photo… get it wrong and you’ll be scrambling around for new photos in a hurry.
- The rest of the paperwork can be filled out in a day including the OFII form, your application form , your letter of oath saying you won’t work , and your "Attestation sur l’honneur" .
- Make sure you photocopy any original documents including your passport  and submit only photocopies as you may need this paperwork at a later date.
- Once you’ve got your paperwork together you are ready to apply. You do this by setting an appointment here on the website of your consulate. Don’t forget to print the receipt of the appointment or you won’t be granted an appointment.
- IMPORTANT: Lastly, the thing that nearly killed my visa application was proof that I lived in British Columbia. I had a lease, but no electric bills or anything since the utilities were included in the lease. They can, if they wish be sticklers about this, so make sure your lease/ownership papers/bills (all with the same address) are included in your package at the end somewhere. It could make the difference between getting a visa, and not.
|My first long sunny day with Poseidon at Versailles.|
You should be able to book your travel for 2-3 weeks from when you have set your visa appointment. The rest is all nervous waiting.
Your friend and newest addition to Paris,