Another day, another challenge. I’d just like to take a minute to share my recent frustrations with the regional French immigration office.
About a month ago, I submitted an application for a Titre du Séjour, which would allow me to live and work in France for one year. I waited a month (ever so patiently), with no response. I began calling the office, to verify that they had received my paperwork, and see if there was anything else to be done to speed up the process. Except the office who handles this specific type of application only anwsers calls 9-12 Tuesdays and Thursdays. And each attempt at reaching the office during the designated hours lead to a rapid transfer to answering machines, incorrect offices, or an immediate dropped call.
Luckily, a contact was able to give me the email address of the woman who was supposedly responsible for handling my case. Here is the email conversation (abridged for language and humor):
Me : Hello Mme. X, can you please confirm that my application for the visa has been received and accepted? If it has been accepted, where and when can I come pick it up? I’m leaving for America next Wednesday, so I would like to have more information before then.
Mme. X : You are not applying for a visa, you are applying for a Titre du Séjour.
Me : Has my application for a Titre du Séjour been received and accepted?
Mme. X : You can ask Mme. Y about the status of your application. Here is her email.
Me : Hello Mme. Y, can you please confirm that my application for the visa has been received and accepted? If it has been accepted, where and when can I come pick it up? I’m leaving for America next Wednesday, so I would like to have more information before then.
Mme. Y : Mme. X already told you it has been accepted. You need to understand that the process will take at least 2 weeks. You will not be able to have the paperwork by the time you leave. You don’t need to return to America because the paperwork can be completed here.
Me : Can I begin the process Monday or Tuesday? Who should I see, and what documents do I need?
Mme. Y : You can come Thursday or Friday.
Me : I’m leaving for America Friday.
Mme. Y : You don’t need to go to America.
Me : I’m traveling to visit family, and I just want a document to confirm that my paperwork is submitted before I leave.
Mme Y : Both myself and Mme. X will be on vacation until Wednesday.
Translation : the only two people in the entire country who could possibly assist me in submitting this paperwork will not be available until I leave. You may have submitted a complete application, but we take no responsibility for informing you that we have received it, that it is complete, that it has been accepted, and when or how the Carte du Séjour can be obtained. I’m not sure how the French expect anyone to figure this system out, much less a foreigner. I’m assuming that they keep étrangers out by wrapping us up in a system until we give up and go home. Luckily, I can be as stubborn and pushy as any government official, so I’ll just keep jumping over administrative hurdles until someone declares I’m a legal resident. Merci la France!