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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

New member here, hoping for a little help.

I am a US citizen planning to move to France and marry. My fiance is a French citizen. We have been trying to gather all of the paperwork necessary before my move date (which is March 31st). Some places have been wonderfully helpful (like his mairie who scheduled us an appointment for a few weeks after I arrive even though we didn't have the paperwork already prepared) ... and others have been amazingly opposite... go figure.

There are two documents that are tripping me up... I can't seem to find where to get them. I'd posed the same question to the local Consulate, and was given the reply of "We don't do that, contact an American Advocate." Unfortunately they have not responded on how to find said advocate, and neither have I been able to find any information on it.

The documents I need to have prepared are un certificat de coutume and un certificat de capaciter matrimoniale, which as I understand them are certificates showing 1. the marriage customs of the US and 2. my eligibility to be married (ie proving that I'm not already married).

Is there anyone out there who's been through this process recently that could point me in the right direction to get these two certificates or even to an advocate as mentioned by the Consulate?

My apologies for all the rambling, and thanks to all :)
Kyr
 

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The American consulate in Paris used to have a document you could use for the "certificat de capaciter matrimoniale" - you filled it in, showed your i.d. and the consulate basically certified it. Basically, you want to look at this document http://france.usembassy.gov/root/pdfs/paris-marriage.pdf on the US Embassy in Paris website.

For the certificat de coutume, you need to find a dually licensed attorney (in France - most likely in Paris). Easiest way to find one is to use the Paris Consulate's list of English speaking attorneys in Paris : http://france.usembassy.gov/root/pdfs/paris-attorneys.pdf Find one admitted to the bar in both France and somewhere (anywhere) in the US and lists "family law" or something similar among their specialties.

The certificat de coutume will run you a few hundred euros. (Outrageous, considering what it is, but that seems to be the going rate.) The attorney will need to see all your i.d. and will basically explain that s/he has reviewed it and is satisfied that you are legally eligible to marry, both in France and in your home country (i.e. the US). It's a bit redundant - and you might be able to get your mairie to accept the certificate de coutume as covering the other documents (since it basically attests to the same thing).

When I got my certificat de coutume a few years back, the attorney told me that in some mairies, they'll allow you to drop some of the certified translations if the certificat de coutume clearly states that it is translating the documents as part of the certification. Didn't work for me - but it's worth asking the question.

Do you have your visa yet? That's the other really critical document, cause otherwise you'll probably have to go back to the US to apply for a visa after the wedding. Get the visa now if you haven't already done so.

And I hate to say this, but get used to this kind of scavenger hunt for documents any time you need something in France. It works the same (though the documents are a bit more common) when you apply for your carte de séjour, when you renew your carte de séjour, when you get your French driving license, and when (if) you eventually take French nationality it becomes a real game!
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for all the information Bev. I can see how this will get to be a big wild goose chase :) I haven't gotten my visa yet, I've tried and been turned down twice (with no information why). We're hoping that being married will help the process.

Thanks again!
Kyr
 

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Thank you for all the information Bev. I can see how this will get to be a big wild goose chase :) I haven't gotten my visa yet, I've tried and been turned down twice (with no information why). We're hoping that being married will help the process.

Thanks again!
Kyr
Be real careful about that. It sounds like much the same stuff that tripped me up (admittedly 15 years ago - but still...). You aren't able to "move to France" until you have a visa. As things stand now, you're only going over there to get married - and then they really do expect you to go back home and apply for a spousal visa to re-enter the country "for the long term."

To do that, you need to be able to prove your residence in the area served by whatever French consulate you're working through in the US.

Did they give you any indication why you've been turned down? If you didn't submit all the documents they asked for, they generally just turn you down with no discussion. Did they ask you for any additional documents? Does your intended currently live in France, or is he moving back there when you do? That can complicate things. And they will insist on having a copy of both sides of his carte d'identité because legally a French passport does not prove his nationality.)

One thing they really are cracking down on is the requirement that you have to start learning French before you can get a visa. And, for a so-called "fiancé visa" (technically doesn't exist, but it's what they call a long-stay visa with intent to marry) they may expect evidence from your husband-to-be that he has a place to stay and the resources to provide for you.

Hope you're planning a honeymoon back in the US, cause it sounds like you'll need to pop back to get the visa issue cleared up. (Take your livret de famille with you - you get that at the mairie the day you get married there.)
Cheers,
Bev
 
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Which is easiest red tape-wise iyo Bev, with respect to the States - obtaining the visa to go over and get married in France, then going through all the rigmarole of having to go back to the States to apply for the long-term spousal visa before returning to France again ... or getting a US visa for a French fiancé to come to the States and get married there, before applying for the long-term spousal visa for permanent residence in France?
 

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Which is easiest red tape-wise iyo Bev, with respect to the States - obtaining the visa to go over and get married in France, then going through all the rigmarole of having to go back to the States to apply for the long-term spousal visa before returning to France again ... or getting a US visa for a French fiancé to come to the States and get married there, before applying for the long-term spousal visa for permanent residence in France?
It's hard to say, given that circumstances are different in each case - and the fact that there are new procedures in place since last June (which don't seem to be being followed very consistently in some places).

The other thing that is a bit disturbing is that, back in June when the new procedures were just coming into effect, there was a page on the France Diplomatie website that specifically gave instructions for those coming to France "with the intention of marriage" to a French national. That page seems to have disappeared last time I looked - and in any event was only available in French when it was still available.

If anyone has the time to slog through the Diplomatie website, here's the starting point France-Diplomatie - Entrer en France Let us know if you find something of interest.

But to go back to the original question, if the couple in question has plans to go back to the US shortly after the wedding in France (honeymoon, or to visit friends and family) it could be the easiest way to go. (Provided, of course, the American can still show "residence" somewhere in the US.)

Getting a long-stay visa in the US is probably overall the "easier" way to go, but as Kyreni found out, you can get turned down without explanation. Sometimes they are just waiting to see if you re-apply, but if she neglected to include some document they asked for, or didn't include some explanation of why it wasn't included along with something that "proves" the same thing, things could get tricky. It can also depend on how the interview(s) went - no telling if something "slipped out" that made them nervous and led to the rejection of the application.

Then, too, there's this new focus on showing that the fiancé(e) has started learning French before they arrive in France. But if they don't have to give you a reason for turning you down, it's hard to know what's going on here.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yep, so far trying to dot all the I's and cross all the T's before going hasn't been very rewarding.

The first time I applied for a long stay visa, the nice gentleman took the fee, read over the papers, and said I'd written that I would be working before I had my permit (I'd listed cooking dinner for the family and household chores so that I didn't sound like a complete freeloader, go figure) and immediately returned all of my paperwork without a second glance.

Second try: nice gentleman (different office this time, I'd moved) looked over my paperwork, said everything seemed to be in order. I'd included my fiance's (and his family's) financial information since they would be supporting me until I could work. Processed the fee, had a short interview and was sent on my way with the hope that I had a chance.

A few weeks later I got a call from the same gentleman saying that my visa was denied. I asked for further information, and he simply said "I can't give you that. Contact the Consulate in France where you planned to stay. Goodbye." <Click>
When I told my fiance, he contacted an acquaintance at his local Consulate office who was unable to find any reason why I was denied...

I know that one strike against me is the fact I'm learning french on my own. Between all the extra expenses thanks to paperwork and my strange work schedule I can't take classes right now. One of the things I'd planned to do while I couldn't work was to enroll in French language courses... as many as it took until I was comfortable using French exclusively. Of course, breaking Hubby of speaking solely English to me is proving a challenge :p
 

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I take it from your response that your fiancé is currently living in the US (otherwise how would he have a consulate near him?). But the guy from the Consulate's response ("Contact the Consulate in France where you planned to stay. ") is a complete mystery. There are no French consulates in France. And the US consulate can't do anything for you.

In any event, I found the page I was looking for: France-Diplomatie As with most bureaucracies, there are some things on the list that are more or less impossible (or at least very difficult) to get before you have moved to France. I strongly suspect that they are stacking the deck so that you will have to return to the US either just before the wedding (the banns are issued only 10 days before the wedding) or after - which is, in theory, far easiest as they pretty much can't turn you down for a visa once you have your livret de famille (unless, of course, you prove to be a threat to national security).
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
He actually lives in France already. I'm not sure about the man's reply about contacting the Consulate in France, but when my fiance calls it "Consulate", he's basically doing that so I know what he's talking about.

We had taken the assumption that we would have to come back to the US for me to apply (again). I'm also going to keep an address (with a phone bill) here with some friends I had previously stayed with, hopefully that will cover the residency requirement.

I strongly suspect that they are stacking the deck so that you will have to return to the US either just before the wedding (the banns are issued only 10 days before the wedding) or after...
Oh, I so agree with that! It seems nearly impossible to get everything complete and approved beforehand! Well, off I go to look through all the information that's been linked here... Been sick for the last week and haven't been able to sit at the computer for very long at any given time.

Thanks for all the information Bev, it really helps to hear other people's experiences and insights! Even though I know they couldn't really be singling us out just to make our lives difficult, it certainly feels like it sometimes!

Time to get a cuppa and get to work! :ranger:
Thank you again
Kyr
 

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If you look at some of the other threads here, especially Frogblogger's thread about bringing his step-children to live in France, it seems we're going through another one of those phases. It could be related to the fairly major changes in process last June.

What seems to happen (my theory, anyhow) is that with a big new procedure or rule, each consulate and prefecture interprets it in their own way. Often these have nothing to do with the original rule or procedure but it takes a while to get word out to the various offices what the actual intent was. Meanwhile, translations of what the local offices think are the rules are made - often not terribly accurate anyhow - and when they find out that their interpretation was wrong after all, they don't want to waste a good translation. (Usually done, as far as I can tell, by one of their kids who may not be doing that well in their English class.)

Ah well - that's how things work in France. If you're coming here to live, best get used to it.:frusty:
Cheers,
Bev
 
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