Quickly approaching my one-year France anniversary, and it would appear that I’m finally reaching the home stretch of obtaining legal residency! Let’s take a look at how far this process has come:
March – Sent emails and letters to regional government officials figure out which status to apply for.
April – Mailed application for the titre de séjour.
May – Received unofficial word by phone that my application had been accepted.
June – Received documentation that application was received (récépissé) which granted legal right to stay in France pending approval from the Préfecture (regional government office).
July – Submitted additional documenation to the DIRECCTE, the French agency involved with granting legal work status.
Then the country went on vacation.
October – Récépissé expired after several months with no progress. I left to travel for a few weeks in the US with my legal status still hazy.
January – Received an invitation for a medical exam with the OFII, the French immigration department.
February – Visited the OFII for the medical exam. When I was a student several years ago, this appointment only involved a brief discussion with a doctor, some basic health analyses, and an X ray of my lungs (that they allowed us to keep!). This time around, I had to participate in the many steps to integration provided by the French government. In addition to the medical exam and meeting with a doctor (no X ray souvenirs), there was a video about French integration and an interview with a social worker. The video covered French history and values, and explained the contrat d’intégration. The contract requires new residents to attend four training sessions on institutions and resources, civic engagement, professional competency and employment assistance, and 200-400 hours of French language lessons if necessary. Luckily, the social worker determined that I was exempt from all sessions except the formation civique.
Within a couple hours, I was racing to the Préfecture to beat their lunch break. The Préfecture operates like the DMV (RMV in Bahston): take a number and wait. Forever. Luckily, there’s a way around this. Before each visit to the Préfecture, I email the office, ask too many questions, and tell them when I’m planning to come in. You only need to take a number if you don’t have an appointment. So I march up to the front desk, wait until someone becomes available, and explain that I have an appointment. Within 15 minutes, I was able to pass off the OFII documents, change my registered address, and let them take my fingerprints. They finally submitted my application to print the titre de séjour, which will be ready within 3 weeks.
All I need now is to pay 550€ in fees, attend the civic training day, and pick up the new carte!