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Hey everyone!

So I finally succeeded in applying for the long stay visitor visa yesterday. I thought I would share a little bit about what the process was like, since it seems to be different according to the consulate you go to.

It was a real ordeal. I don't know why, but it is almost impossible to get an appointment at the French consulate in Atlanta. There are never any appointments available online. I thought about trying to apply in DC, but I was told I'd be flat out refused, since I live in Atlanta. I had been trying for over a month and a half to get an appointment without any success. I called the consulate repeatedly and got the brush off. I finally had to have a mini breakdown over the phone and start crying, before they offered to put me on some "list." Later that afternoon they called and offered to fit me in between other appointments on May 30th, if I showed up at 9am.

When I showed up yesterday, the small visa room was packed with about 10 people, half of whom were there to give additional information for the files they'd already turned in. The other half were people like me - people who'd been trying unsuccessfully to get an appointment and were finally offered to be seen if we came in at 9am. Interestingly, I seemed to be the only American applying for a visa to France - the others were from other countries trying to just get short term visas.

The process itself actually wasn't too bad. I had a complete freak out last Friday when I discovered the French consulate of Atlanta, unlike the other consulates, requires that all documents in English should be officially translated into French. This past Monday being a holiday here, it made it all the more difficult to find someone willing to officially translate documents so last minute. Fortunately, one of the two officially approved translators in the state of Georgia referred me to a translation company that worked with me in getting the translations done last minute.

The thing that made me most uncomfortable (giving them my bank statements) ended up not being a big deal. They hardly even glanced at them. And they only asked for my most recent, so I just gave them exactly what they asked for.

Of course, it being French bureaucracy, they asked for something I didn't have. It didn't occur to me, as I hadn't read anything about it online or on their website, but since I stated my reason for the visa was to get married to my boyfriend and stay with him, they asked for a copy of his carte d'identité or passport. Makes sense - they want to make sure I'm not making him up and that he's a French citizen. It just didn't occur to me as I hadn't read anything about it. Fortunately, I was able to call my boyfriend while he was still at work, and one of his coworkers lent him his scanner so he could scan and email both to me once he got home.

I am a little worried, however. One of the consulate workers (I think the man who is head of visa approval), told me that depending on the department I live in, after my 6 month visa, instead of being able to just get it switched to a "spouse of a French citizen" visa, I might be required to return to the US and apply for it there instead. This naturally worries me. I am wondering if he gives that spiel to be on the safe side, or if people have actually run into this. I'm leaving for France at the end of June, and it would really suck if I would have to be apart from my future husband over Christmas/New Year's because of this.

The first month I'm there, we are going to be in Haute Garonne (Toulouse), because that is where my fiancé is registered, but after that, we're moving into an apartment that's in the department of Landes.

If anyone has any experience or knowledge about this, I'd really appreciate it. It was like I was able to enjoy my success for all of 5 seconds before worrying about the paperwork nightmare that awaits me once I actually arrive in France.

Thanks!
 

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Congratulations, you're past the worst of it.

After you get married, the procedures vary a bit from one prefecture to the next. You shouldn't be required to return to the US - but what some prefectures will make you do is to wait until your visitor visa is coming up on expiration. At that time (and not before) you can request a change in status (to a spouse carte de séjour) provided you can prove that you've been living together for at least 6 months.

Some prefectures will let you change your status after the wedding, but most insist on the 6 months of living together these days. (And heck, in six months, things could change again.)

Take things one step at a time - and enjoy your year off (you are on a visitor visa, after all!).
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Hmm, this is a bit worrisome, as my visitor visa is only good for 6 months, and I may have to provide proof we've been living together for at least 6 months?! Do you know what they consider as "proof?" I have the rental agreement for the apartment in July, which has both our names, but I believe that the apartment we're renting is only under his name, seeing as he was the one who made the application. I know that once I get there, I was planning on immediately getting a cell phone with free mobile (considering the 20 euro per month contract, I can't imagine much better). I assume this means that I will need something like an electricity bill or something under my name?


Thanks,
Julia
 

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It might be ok. Some consulates do a one year visa, others do the six month kind. Just make sure you get married a couple months before you apply for your change in status.

For the Free mobile phone deal, you need a bank account in your name. Easiest way to handle that is to have your fiancé go with you to his bank to open an account - or have him put your name on his account. Different banks have different requirements for opening an account. But once you have an account they can tap, you can sign up for Free online, no problem.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It might be ok. Some consulates do a one year visa, others do the six month kind. Just make sure you get married a couple months before you apply for your change in status.

For the Free mobile phone deal, you need a bank account in your name. Easiest way to handle that is to have your fiancé go with you to his bank to open an account - or have him put your name on his account. Different banks have different requirements for opening an account. But once you have an account they can tap, you can sign up for Free online, no problem.
Cheers,
Bev
Yeah, I am leaving for France at the end of June, and we're getting married at the end of July, mostly because we were told by the town hall that we have to turn in all the appropriate paperwork together, we have to give them a month, plus I have to go to the American Embassy in Paris to get the appropriate paperwork from them.

Apparently free mobile recently changed something, because my fiancé discovered he can add another line to his account for another 20 euros per month. Nonetheless, we're going to have to deal with the banking mess once I get there. I have to have an American account, because I own a house here that I'm renting out, so I need my American bank account to continue paying the mortgage.
 
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