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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all

I am an Australian citizen living in Sydney. After living in Sydney for six years with my French partner in a de facto relationship, we decided it was time to move back to France. To facilitate the move, we also decided to get married so I could get a spouse visa.

My partner rang the French consulate in Sydney to get advice on how we should go about applying for the spouse visa. We were told it would be a very simple process since we had already lived together for so long, and that it would take three months to apply from the date of our marriage to get everything in order. So we planned everything around this time frame - we got married in Sydney in early October and booked our flights to France, leaving in mid-January 2012.

However, we were not told that we needed to submit the publication des bans 10 days prior to getting married and found out too late to do so. Hence, we had to submit our demande de transcription d'un acte de mariage without it and were told the process would now take four months, to receive the livret de famille.

We submitted our dossier in late October, as soon as we had our official marriage certificate and all the other necessary documents. Now I am not sure what to do - if the process takes four months as predicted, we won't receive our livret de famille before we leave for France in January.

My question is - can I apply for a different kind of visa so that we can still leave in January as planned? For instance, a working holiday visa (I am still in the eligible age bracket) or a long-stay visa without work? I am planning to return to Sydney after one year in France (i.e. January 2013) to visit my family, so I could apply for the spouse visa then as we will definitely have the livret de famille after one year, I hope!

However, I am not sure if there are any restrictions in applying for a working holiday visa or long stay visa now that I am married to a French citizen?

Any advice would be very much appreciated.

Thank you!
A
 

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Hi there,

I'm also an Australian married to a Frenchman, and we're also waiting for our Livret de Famille. We submitted our dossier in July, and we're still waiting (4/5 months so far), though we aren't leaving till late next year, in fact I wrote in one of my posts "I can't imagine how frustrated I'd be if we actual needed to leave soon" :eek: - so ironically, you are the proof of the frustration!

We did our publication des bans, but it doesn't seem to have sped up the process - I read on the consulate sight that without doing it you have be be interviewed at the consulate prior to getting married (which I'm guessing you did?).

I'm not 100% but I think yes, you can change your status once in France on certain visas, but not (for example) on a tourist visa. I'll let someone else confirm that the working holiday visa is a way to do this. You don't actually change visa type in France, you can only change your carte de séjour.

Also, as part of your dossier, if you had to provide a reply paid envelope, it means that the Livret de Famille will be sent to your AU address; if you do go to France before you get your LdV, make sure they don't send it to the AU. If you are indeed returning to Sydney in Jan '13 to visit family, that sounds like a good plan to quickly get the spouse visa before you head off again (the visa itself should not take more than 2 weeks).
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Sarah

Thanks for the quick response. You are lucky you have so much time to prepare, I wish we had married sooner! i guess it was naive to believe the process would only take 3 months.

Although I'm glad to hear the publication des bans doesn't seem to be so important after all... we were kicking ourselves for not doing it! However we haven't been asked to go to the consulate for an interview, at least not yet. My partner is planning to ring the consulate tomorrow to see how our dossier is progressing so I will make sure he finds out about that.

I hadn't even thought about changing the status of the carte de sejour while in France - can anyone confirm if this is possible? and if so how you go about doing it, what visa you need to be on, etc? I do know that the working holiday visa is strictly 12 months and cannot be changed or extended in france, but not sure about other visa types?

we gave my sister's address in Aus as we are moving out of our apartment in early January. we didn't put an address in France as at the time we were hoping the livret de famille would arrive before we left the country. we can always ask our sister to send it to us in france and this is likely what we will have to do.

I am definitely happy to come back to Sydney in Jan 13 for the spouse visa, but i am confused about what options that gives me for 2012.

on a completely separate note, does anyone know whether i will be able to work in the first year i am in france if i do get the spouse visa / carte de sejour vie privee et familiale? i've read conflicting information on different threads. we have 5 years of vie commun but in sydney not in france!

thanks
Aisa

Hi there,

I'm also an Australian married to a Frenchman, and we're also waiting for our Livret de Famille. We submitted our dossier in July, and we're still waiting (4/5 months so far), though we aren't leaving till late next year, in fact I wrote in one of my posts "I can't imagine how frustrated I'd be if we actual needed to leave soon" :eek: - so ironically, you are the proof of the frustration!

We did our publication des bans, but it doesn't seem to have sped up the process - I read on the consulate sight that without doing it you have be be interviewed at the consulate prior to getting married (which I'm guessing you did?).

I'm not 100% but I think yes, you can change your status once in France on certain visas, but not (for example) on a tourist visa. I'll let someone else confirm that the working holiday visa is a way to do this. You don't actually change visa type in France, you can only change your carte de séjour.

Also, as part of your dossier, if you had to provide a reply paid envelope, it means that the Livret de Famille will be sent to your AU address; if you do go to France before you get your LdV, make sure they don't send it to the AU. If you are indeed returning to Sydney in Jan '13 to visit family, that sounds like a good plan to quickly get the spouse visa before you head off again (the visa itself should not take more than 2 weeks).
 

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Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but technically you cannot change visa types once you are in France - with the one exception that, if you are already on a long-stay visa (student, work, other renewable visa) and you get married in France, you can change to a spouse visa by filing at the local préfecture.

You're not supposed to be able to switch from a working holiday visa to any form of long-stay visa (though, this being France, there are stories of those who have managed to talk their local préfecture into it - your local préfet would have to have some political "juice" to make this happen).

What makes the time frame so difficult to foresee is that in France they update a citizen's birth record for marriage, divorce and death. This involves sending the notification of the marriage back to the mairie of the town in which the French citizen was born - and in some towns it can take a while before the clerk gets around to updating the birth record.

You basically have two options here. If you go to France on schedule before your spouse visa has come through, you'll have to enter on a regular old 90 day "tourist" visa (i.e. the Schengen stamp in the passport) and then return home when your livret de famille comes through so you can get your spouse visa to re-enter France and do your OFII drill (contrat d'accueil et d'integration, medical visit, etc.), or you put off your flights until you have the spouse visa and save yourself the trip back home.

The good news is that, once you have all the paperwork, the spouse visa is as close to "automatic" as it gets. They can only deny it for fraud on your part or if you refuse to learn French.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Sorry Aice that things aren't simpler :eek:
Bev's proposed plan of heading back after 3 months seems like the quickest way to get back and start working straight away, though this might ruin your plans for a Jan '13 visit if all those plane tickets are too expensive...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks Bev and Sarah, your posts are really helpful.

What about if I apply for a working holiday visa for 2012? I plan to go back to Sydney in jan 2013 anyway, so it's not an issue if I can't switch to a long stay visa while still in france. I can apply for the spouse visa while I am back in sydney in 2013 as I should definitely have the livret de famille by then.

Do either of you know whether I am still eligible to apply for the working holiday visa now that i am married to a french citizen? i fit the age requirement and can satisfy the financial and health insurance requirements.

i'm just not sure whether the consulate will refuse my application for a working holiday since i am married? they do explicitly state: "Holidaymaking in France should be the main purpose of the stay. It is not intended for any other purpose such as joining your partner/fiance in France, studying, be an Au Pair or finding long-term employment."

Will they have grounds to refuse me, even if I intend to come back to sydney after the 12 months to apply for the spouse visa? at the moment i only have a one way ticket to france, but i can easily buy the return flight as required for the working holiday visa.

Thanks, your advice would be great!
A
 

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They can always refuse to issue you a visa for "just cause" - i.e. "just 'cause" they feel like it. (Sorry, old joke - but very relevant here...)

The whole system of visas in France is based on your reason for going to France. If you apply now for a working holiday visa (with your livret de famille in process and given that your husband is French and moving back to France), your "reason" is going to be very difficult to prove. Plus, I'm not sure, but I think you have to be outside France after a working holiday visa for some minimum period of time (like a year or more) before you're technically eligible for another visa.

The kicker is that, once you have that livret de famille, the process for getting the spouse visa takes literally only a couple of days. Do you have any option to change the date of your flight - even against a penalty? It could be worthwhile for your husband to fly on ahead and then you follow as soon as you get the livret and the spouse visa.

At least give it until mid-December. Or if you have to make an appointment for the visa application, try and make one now for early January. If you haven't gotten the livret by then, you can change the appointment (and possibly your flights) but it's certainly worth a shot.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #8
So good news and bad news... We received our livret de famille after only 5 weeks, much earlier than the 4 months the consulate predicted.

I was ecstatic but it was short lived. Now that I have the paperwork, I can't get an appointment with the visa section! All appointments at the sydney consulate have to be booked online and the first available is jan 18!! We fly out on jan 16!

Anyone know a way around this? It's only November, how can there be no appointments available for 2 months??

Help!!
 

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So good news and bad news... We received our livret de famille after only 5 weeks, much earlier than the 4 months the consulate predicted.

I was ecstatic but it was short lived. Now that I have the paperwork, I can't get an appointment with the visa section! All appointments at the sydney consulate have to be booked online and the first available is jan 18!! We fly out on jan 16!
Wow, only 5 weeks :eek: You might try calling the consulate and explaining that your tickets are already bought, but they so seem pretty busy. A few questions: can you change your flights? Do you need to fly out on the 16th? Can you fly out after your husband? The visa itself shouldn't take more than 2 weeks.
 

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Not sure if this works in Australia, but at some of the other consulates where you book your appointment online, you simply take the first appointment on offer. Then, you return to the site a couple of times a day when they apparently post cancellations that have opened up. You may be able to grab an earlier date if you keep checking back on the site (once you have an appointment lined up).

If you nail an earlier appointment, you then cancel yours - and give some other frantic visa applicant an appointment earlier than the first one they could book.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Not sure if this works in Australia, but at some of the other consulates where you book your appointment online, you simply take the first appointment on offer. Then, you return to the site a couple of times a day when they apparently post cancellations that have opened up. You may be able to grab an earlier date if you keep checking back on the site (once you have an appointment lined up).

If you nail an earlier appointment, you then cancel yours - and give some other frantic visa applicant an appointment earlier than the first one they could book.
Cheers,
Bev
Sydney consulate is a joke - they only work for like three hours a day and you're right Aice - they're booked out for months in advance! I did what Bev suggested and I got a much earlier appointment. You'll have to be a bit obssessive in checking the site, but don't worry, you'll be fine.

Plus, I'm not sure, but I think you have to be outside France after a working holiday visa for some minimum period of time (like a year or more) before you're technically eligible for another visa.
Also Bev, thought I'd let you know for the future... I did what Aice was thinking - I got a working holiday visa just to be with my then-boyfriend (I just didn't tell them that's what I was doing and they didn't ask). Just before my working holiday visa expired, I arrived back in Sydney and went straight in to apply for a long stay visitor visa and there were no objections from the consulate that my working holiday visa was actually still current. I was PACSed at the time, though they mentioned nothing about a one-year gap or any gap... so maybe... I dunno? Maybe the PACS had an influence? I only mentioned it right at the end of the appointment and it didn't seem to make a difference to their reaction.
 

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Also Bev, thought I'd let you know for the future... I did what Aice was thinking - I got a working holiday visa just to be with my then-boyfriend (I just didn't tell them that's what I was doing and they didn't ask). Just before my working holiday visa expired, I arrived back in Sydney and went straight in to apply for a long stay visitor visa and there were no objections from the consulate that my working holiday visa was actually still current. I was PACSed at the time, though they mentioned nothing about a one-year gap or any gap... so maybe... I dunno? Maybe the PACS had an influence? I only mentioned it right at the end of the appointment and it didn't seem to make a difference to their reaction.
Thanks for confirming that. In the case of a spouse visa, they basically can't turn you down. In some ways, being PACS'd carries many of the same "courtesies" as if you were married. Though I guess it's a bit more "discretionary" - i.e. don't get the consular officials mad at you. :eek:
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Thanks for confirming that. In the case of a spouse visa, they basically can't turn you down. In some ways, being PACS'd carries many of the same "courtesies" as if you were married. Though I guess it's a bit more "discretionary" - i.e. don't get the consular officials mad at you. :eek:
Cheers,
Bev
Yeah I made the mistake of telling them that I was working as an assistant in three collèges as they asked me what I did for work and WOW! They exploded! "A working holiday visa is made for travelling, we have a specific visa for assistants... Blah blah blah" All I could do was say "it was the only work I could find, and I travelled in the holiday period". They were really narky at me and went on about it for a few minutes, but still gave me my visitor visa within a week! I think I got VERY lucky. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I tried this already, in order to change your appointment you first have to cancel the one you have booked. There is no way to just check what is free. So I'll have to constantly change my appointment? How did you get around this jenx?

Also, it only shows 5 possible dates in January and it doesn't let me view December or February. which seems strange?

I will keep trying with fingers and toes crossed!
 

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I tried this already, in order to change your appointment you first have to cancel the one you have booked. There is no way to just check what is free. So I'll have to constantly change my appointment? How did you get around this jenx?

Also, it only shows 5 possible dates in January and it doesn't let me view December or February. which seems strange?

I will keep trying with fingers and toes crossed!
Hey Aice,

Yeah you're right, sorry. *Brain fart*

The way I got around this was just to keep obsessively checking the site under the guise of a "booking an appointment". If I saw something, I'd make my way back and "change my appointment" straight away.

You gotta be quick! And their booking site is notoriously weird - sometimes you might see a gap and then the next minute, it's gone... only to reappear a couple of hours later. I don't know if there was a glitch when I booked back in April, but it was strange. If you do end up cancelling your appointment and the day that was available when you saw it disappears, don't panic. This happened to me. Just check back later.

December and February must be totally booked out, which is why you can't see them.

Just be patient and obsessive and keep checking - a cancellation will come up! I checked around 6-10 times a day for two or three days and it worked for me. :)
 

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thanks for the advice jenx - i did as you said and checked obsessively for a few days and finally an appointment in december opened up - success!

now just waiting on police name check and a more recent copy of my partner's birth certificate and my dossier is complete!

i applied for the name check through my local police station about 7 working days ago... so i have fingers and toes crossed that it comes really really soon. still two weeks til my visa appointment so it should be fine.

i photocopied every single page of the livret de famille just in case - anyone know whether we are meant to sign anything inside? also, do we need to provide certified copies of our documents, or will a standard photocopy do?

Thanks to everyone for the help, almost there! :)
 

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thanks for the advice jenx - i did as you said and checked obsessively for a few days and finally an appointment in december opened up - success!

now just waiting on police name check and a more recent copy of my partner's birth certificate and my dossier is complete!

i applied for the name check through my local police station about 7 working days ago... so i have fingers and toes crossed that it comes really really soon. still two weeks til my visa appointment so it should be fine.

i photocopied every single page of the livret de famille just in case - anyone know whether we are meant to sign anything inside? also, do we need to provide certified copies of our documents, or will a standard photocopy do?

Thanks to everyone for the help, almost there! :)
Hey aice,

Happy for you!!! What a relief!

I was cutting it fine with my police check too - just call them up at Parramatta and ask if you can pick it up (give them the receipt number) if they haven't sent it yet. Mine only took just over a week and they were awesome when I called up to check about it.

I don't think you need to sign anything inside the livret...? The Consulat will tell you when you get there anyway if you did need to and they're really pretty accommodating if you need to do anything extra so don't worry. They're actually relatively happy for you to pop back in to just hand in some papers or to email something later.

Standard photocopies should be fine, but bring originals of everything, because they look at the originals and compare them to the copy.

Let us know how you go! Good luck :)
 

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I agree jenx Criminal Records office staff are amazing. They got it sorted for me straight away when I rang to enquire on the status of my name check.

I've had my appointment and submitted all my forms without any further dramas. I'm now waiting on the approval of the visa and return of my passport. Only 3 weeks to go before we fly out! :)

This forum has been such a huge help thank you to Sarah, jenx and bev de forges for the wonderful advice. For anyone out there about to go through this process I'm happy to return the favour and share lessons learned from my experience.

À bientôt !
 

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Yeah, when i went for my visa at the sydney consulate i had an appointment for 11am cos it was the only one available for 2 months, i went half an hour early and there was noone there so i did the application at 10.30. If you go and have a look you might get lucky.
 
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