If there is one country in the world were the interpretation of immigration paperwork is literally down to the luck of the draw and interpretation of the people reading it, France is the place!
This post relates to an au pair who moved to France only for her situation to deteriorate and contracts to be ended. The lady in question, who is highly literate in French, was then under the impression she had one week to leave the country although as no official actually told her this she stayed on until September – effectively an illegal alien from mid-April. After returning to the US she is now looking to travel back to France and marry her French boyfriend but there is some debate and confusion as to whether she will regain entry and the paperwork required for marriage in France.
There is speculation of a potential loop hole in the law whereby if someone was to overstay their three-month visa by a further three months they would actually be free to legally marry their partner – a 6 month period of living together would supersede all of the paperwork. While this would negate the need for additional paperwork and effectively fast track any potential marriage there seems to be some disagreement as to whether the three-month period of “illegal accommodation” in France would possibly scupper hopes of a marriage to a French citizen.
As it happens, the lady in question requires the same paperwork she would need for a Visa or she would to apply for a marriage certificate. However, unfortunately France seems to be one of the worst countries for different interpretations of standard French law and it can literally depend on the area in which you live or the area in which you want to get married as to what documentation will be required and the overall cost. There is also an interesting debate about signing up to lessons to learn French and about the French way of life which is something countries such as the UK are looking to bring in.
The procedure and paperwork required for marrying abroad is often very different to that of the country the non-national may be from. As ever, just as forum members begin to appreciate and understand the procedure these can often be changed overnight and cause yet more confusion. However, there are a number of websites which will clear the mist and take away the rumours and untruths about marrying in France, the legal position and the paperwork required.
There do appear to be a number of loopholes in the regulations and rules governing both entry and exit from France as well as marriages. Understanding and appreciating these procedures will take away much of the pressure and uncertainty but trying to cut corners always has the potential of backfiring and causing severe disruption in your plans. If at all possible, paperwork should be correct and in order from day one although this is not always easy and administrative delays and differing interpretations can often confuse the situation. Those looking to marry overseas should be aware that any legal issues could come back to haunt them years down the line and “cutting corners” is a very risky game to play.