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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello again,
My husband and I finally made it to the prefecture here in Pau downtown this morning only to be told that because I don't have a work contract in France and I am the EU citizen then my US born husband will need a VISA CONJOINT EUROPEAN.
Is this true?
Can anyone help me/us with this?
We also don't have stamps in our passports as we came in from Italy on a train and therefore there is no proof of when we came into France so they can only see when we entered Europe and that was Sept 30...putting us over the 3 month legal mark.
Is our best bet to go over the border to Spain and make sure our passports are stamped upon reentry (where? how?) so we have a date of entry even though our rental contract shows a start date of January 1, 2010?
SO CONFUSING!!:confused2:
Please, please, please offer up tips/advice asap as we need to make a move and make sure our worst-case-scenario can be avoided (ie: he has to fly back to the US to apply for a long-stay visa)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:plane:
Thanks so much,
Beth
 

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Ah, France! Unfortunately it looks like you may have made a slight boo-boo here. Your husband had a Schengen visa for 90 days after he entered the Schengen area (i.e. when his passport was stamped on entry to Italy). The 90 days doesn't start up again when you enter France.

The fact of his Schengen visa being expired means that he does indeed need to get some sort of visa - though I've never heard of the "visa conjoint european" that they told you to get.

You can't get another Schengen visa by slipping over the border to Spain, as Spain counts as part of the Schengen area. Technically he'd have to leave Schengen and re-enter from the US or UK to get another 90 day stamp - but you'd have to hope that the border guy doesn't notice the old stamp and refuse him entry based on that "90 days out of 180 days" rule.

Where have you and your husband been resident prior to this move to France? That's where he's going to have to apply for his visa, assuming he can't get another 90 day stamp in his passport. I would expect it should be fairly simple (and actually free of charge) to get a visa as the conjoint of an EU national in your old country of residence. He'll need to show evidence, however, that you are indeed resident in France - and that's where having a job would come in real handy about now, though your lease contract might do.

It is probably also possible to tough it out and just kind of hang tight until they back down and realize your husband isn't a threat to national security and just grant him the carte de séjour - but that's I how did things 15 years ago and it took 20 months and lots of bad feeling on all sides to sort things out. I don't recommend that approach.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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Are you sure they said a visa, and not a carte de séjour pour conjoint européen? Because as an American your husband didn't need an actual visa to come to France, and once in France he should be entitled to apply for the residence permit (although he should have done so within three months of arrival in the Schengen area.

As I understand it the date of application should be within three months of first arrival in the Schengen area and not France itself, ie within the three month period of validity from the date stamped on first arriving in Italy.

Still if you find the right understanding person at the Prefecture, it should be relatively easy to sort out. The "carte de séjour pour conjoint européen" application form is an actual document, hence my first question - my wife signed hers ten days ago. I'm not sure about the visa that you think you've been asked for - my money's on the prefecture wanting you to apply for the carte de séjour. For that you need various documents in French - eg marriage certificate, proof that the marriage is recognised by the EU national's home country, birth certs of any accompanying children, a couple of passport photos, photocopy of husband's passport and the entry stamp page, um... I think that's about all.

I would get back to the prefecture innocently presenting all those documents and ask to fill in the formulaire de demande de carte de séjour pour conjoint européen asap - hopefully they'll overlook the lateness.

Oh yes, you need proof of residence - eg electric bill in your name, or the lease, and possibly some form of proof of financial means. I also did a letter summing up our situation, certifying "sur l'honneur" that my wife and I lived together, etc etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Bev,
We were residents in the US prior to landing in Italy on Sept 30 where we spent just over a month then crossed over to France on November 2.
So I don't think we could go the residency route as it was in the USA...argh.
We might be able to fib it with my mum's address in the UK and me having a bank account there and a UK passport, but I haven't been a resident in the UK officially for 8 years now.
Does that mean we would go to the UK and apply for a long-stay visa or visa conjoint European there in order to come back here? HELP!
I wish I had known to get to the prefecture based on the arrival in Italy date although the lady there seemed CERTAIN that without me having a work contract here in France he would need this Visa Conjoint European no matter what!
The fact that you haven't heard of it and I have never heard ANYONE mention in on this site worries me a bit.:(
What is the 90 days out of 180 days rule? Because we could just fly to the UK to visit family and friends and fly back and get our passports stamped, but I don't want them to deny him re-entry to France.
Yikes!
I don't envy you the route you took either nor do I feel up to fighting as hard as you had to to get legal here.
Oh la la, the French!!!
So scratch Spain as an option, think about going to the UK for a visit and hope he can make it back in, find ME a job asap...REALLY??!!
There has to be a simpler option, non?
This is crazy.
Thanks for any and all tips (as ever),
Beth
 
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See my reply above. I don't think there's any such thing as a visa conjoint européen. In fact I'm sure there isn't. It's a simple situation. Sit tight, apply for the carte de séjour pour conjoint européen asap, with the documents I listed above. You should be ok, even if they moan a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Pete,
Thanks for clarifying the conjoint europeen portion of my many queries!
You have some great advice, but I guess my big worry is--like today--we get someone who cannot forgive the 'been here over 3 months' violation?
What then?
Ideally, I would get all of the paperwork translated and in order (where? is there a service for this?) AND have at least his passport stamped to show an entry date that is within the 3 month period (which means he would need to fly to the UK perhaps?).
As it is we have been in Europe for just over 4 months, but in France for just under 3 months so I thought we were "safe" and now I know we are not. So with another few weeks of gathering and translating documents we will be further violating this rule which never goes down well in France.
What to do?
Cheers,
Beth
 
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One other point - I don't know whether the prefecture will require the "proof that the marriage is recognised by the EU national's home country" that I mentioned above. That was required by the French embassy in my wife's country of origin in order to obtain her Schengen visa (Thais have to have this visa to enter the EU, unlike Americans/Aussies). Should they ask for this, it's issued for a fee by your nearest British consulate (although usually in the country where the marriage took place).
 
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I wouldn't bother about the technical 'overstay'. Just hand in the copy of the passport and entry stamp page, and see what happens. If necessary write a letter saying that you misunderstood the rule and thought the three months referred to the period of stay after arrival in France. But don't hand this in unless you are asked for it (wouldn't do any harm to prepare the letter first).

As for translations, you need a sworn translator, of which there are many around France. You can usually get these relatively simple documents turned around within a week or so. The rate is usually approx 30 € per page - you won't find it any cheaper, I doubt. If you struggle to find one around that price, I know a good translator (American/French lady) in Avignon, who always does a great job for me.
 
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Oh, and I wouldn't advise the 'fly to UK' thing. The whole point of the 3 month Schengen visa, or passport stamp under the same conditions as applies to Americans, is that there are certain restrictions, notably the one that says you can't stay in the Schengen area for more than 90 days in a six month period. You might be running the risk of your husband not being allowed back in!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Pete,
Thank you so much!
Your help really is priceless as my husband and I walked out of that office truly dazed and confused (and back to our hyper kids want to play, play, play)!
One other quick question--will we need to have the childrens birth certificates translated or will they just need to see their UK passports (easier and cheaper!)?
Thanks much,
Beth
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Oops, I forgot to point out the one thing that seemed to cause our lovely lady chez the prefecture get the most snooty...the fact that I DON'T HAVE A JOB (yet!)!!!
I am the UK passport holder and I am NOT EMPLOYED and she seemed to think my US husband couldn't possibly get a carte de sejour IF his UK wife doesn't have a job!
Any idea how to deal with this until I find myself a job??
Cheers,
Beth
 
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Pete,
Thank you so much!
Your help really is priceless as my husband and I walked out of that office truly dazed and confused (and back to our hyper kids want to play, play, play)!
One other quick question--will we need to have the childrens birth certificates translated or will they just need to see their UK passports (easier and cheaper!)?
Thanks much,
Beth
I think the main reason the authorities ask for these is to verify that none of the children accompanying their parents to France need the carte de séjour, or to be included on the parent's CdS, themselves. I can't say exactly what will be asked of you in your situation, as my wife and I didn't go to the Prefecture - it's possible to fill out the conjoint européen CdS application form at the local Mairie. The lady there was completely bamboozled by my two kids' (previous marriage) dual Anglo-French nationality, one born in the UK and one in France, and my latest daughter (dual Anglo-Thai nationality) born in Thailand, and therefore in theory none of them needing a CdS. However to be on the safe side she asked for every paper I had, which included birth certs and a copy of a French livret de famille.

I would go along with their British passports and photocopies of same, and hope for the best, unless you prefer to play it safe and you are not worried about spending a few extra 30 €s for the translations!

As for the job situation, there is indeed some requirement to demonstrate that you have the means to support yourself and your non-EU spouse, although I'm not sure how that would stand up in European law - you as a Brit have the right to come to France, to live there, and to look for work there. It therefore follows that your husband and children have the same rights. However the French aren't exactly sticklers for the letter of European law when it suits them, so any means you have of demonstrating that you do indeed have the means to support yourself for some time while looking for employment would be helpful and might save you a lot of hassle. If that's a problem, then you might need to find some alternative way around this - someone acting as guarantor, for example. But you are already renting, and usually a landlord asks for proof of income before accepting tenants - how did you get around this?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Oh, I didn't realize this was an application we could just fill in at the local mairie. Do we then take it in to the prefecture?
I am most worried about the over 3 months rule now as they will not be happy about that AT ALL. Pleading ignorance is our best bet, I guess.
We have proof of savings in the form of bank statements from our US bank accounts. Other than that, my husband is awaiting a letter from his boss in the US stating he works for them, etc..
That must have been funny (maybe only in hindsight...) seeing the expressions of various bureaucratic French folks as you presented the various documents for your children. I would have liked to be a fly on the wall for that!
I can pay for the translation of the marriage certificate without hesitation as I know that will help, but it's finding where to go and getting it in a timely manner that worries me as every day farther from Sept 30 will anger them (potentially) more.
We signed a 6 month lease through a US renter who lives here normally, but is currently in China and she didn't ask for proof (it was through vrbo.com). Still we do have that contract to show them.
Finding a guarantor in France might be challenging seeing as we don't know anyone:(. Would one in the UK help?
I guess I had better find a job asap! Are you hiring?!! (hee hee.)
Seriously, I am so grateful.
Thanks,
Beth
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I am assuming using a sworn translator from the internet is safe enough?! I would just have to scan and send them the documents via the internet?!
I want to do this TODAY if possible, but don't want it to be a scam and I don't think wandering the streets of Pau is going to do me much good.
Maybe I will take you up on the offer of connecting me with the sworn translator you used, Pete.:)
Thanks so much,
Beth
 
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The Mairie has/should have the form, which you fill in on the spot and they forward it to the Prefecture with the relevant documents. If all is in order the Prefecture sends a récépissé (but I'm not sure whether it comes to your home address or to the Mairie, ours hasn't turned up yet). This receipt is needed to prove that you have made the CdS application, eg should a gendarme ask for your husband's papers and see that the 90 day Schengen period has expired...

As for the translations, I would get together all that you have to hand (whilst noting that when the letter from your husband's employers arrives, that also has to be translated into French), and get it all translated toot sweet. I would have thought that this letter of employment (I'm assuming it is work that he carries out in France? Have you sorted out the tax etc. situation on this?) would do the trick. Plus the savings accounts info, every little extra helps.

To save you wasting time looking for a sworn translator here's a good contact:

Mary PODEVIN - 49 Boulevard Raspail – 84000 Avignon

Tél. + 33 (0)4 90 85 09 43 - Mob. +33 (0)6 30 97 68 13

Call her, mention my name (Peter Garwood), ask her to confirm her rate per document and current turnaround time. If you reach an agreement, send her the docs by recorded delivery, including the extra for her to send them recorded delivery back to you. If she's not snowed under you could get the translated docs back within 7 - 10 days. I'll PM her email address separately...

Good luck!
 

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Beth,
First of all, don't panic. (That was my big mistake way back when.) Despite what they'll try to tell you at the prefecture, you're hardly the first person this has happened to.

Option one is to just go back and try again. Don't draw attention to the Italian stamp and if and when they notice it, just act innocent and say they didn't stamp your passport when you entered France.

Option two is to just make a holiday in the UK for a few days or a week or so. On re-entry, your husband should make sure they stamp his passport (don't make a point out of asking unless it appears they aren't going to do it). If they do notice the Italian stamp on exit, act innocent. Chances are they won't notice on re-entry to France. (They're more interested in making sure you haven't been overstaying your welcome in the UK.)

I'm betting you can get away with option two, then just go back to the prefecture with your nice, new entry stamp, just a few days old and go from there. When I first got my French nationality, I hadn't worked out how to manage multiple passports yet and I have several exit stamps without the entry stamps to go with them. (Because I came back into France on my new French passport.) No one ever noticed and/or asked about them.

Incoming border control in France is nothing like in the US. Besides, it isn't nearly as easy to match up those entry and exit stamps as it seems.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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It's risky though, isn't it. The maximum permissible total stay is 90 days out of 180 from the date of first entry stamp in the Schengen area. As that time period has already been exceeded, the French would be within their rights to refuse to let Beth's husband back in. Why take the chance?

The French may have been lax in the past, but they are cracking down a little now under the current administration. Although Americans, Aussies etc aren't getting the closest scrutiny, it would seem prudent to assume the worst case scenario. There's already an overstay of a month as it is.

Anyway, I'm not sure that a new stamp would mean much. The first was issued under the terms of the Schengen agreement, and gives the bearer the right to stay a maximum 90 days out of 180. I don't see that a subsequent mistake by immigration would change that situation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Oh no!
As fascinating as this back and forth is...my husband's "life" hangs in the balance!:)
I was thinking though if I plead (honest) ignorance to the 3 month no matter what Schengen country and then if discussions get rolling point out that we were in a TINY village in December and it was the holidays so most things were closed to see if that might help.
It really depends SO MUCH on who I get and if I go back to the prefecture and get the same woman (no windows, closed doors so I won't know until I enter) she might be a little less than pleased with me.
In general do Mairies offer this same service or will they just send me back to this prefecture? Can I go to different mairies or prefectures or does it have to be the one nearest to our new home?
This is stressful, but surely I am NOT the first to have made this error...right??!!
Oh, what if we travel to the UK closer to the end of the 180 day period (ie in about two months) and just wing until then as he is working for a US company from home right now and then we won't have the added anxiety of him not getting back into France AND the stamp will be valid as it will have fallen into a new 180 day period??
Oh my!
~Beth
 

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Don't really know what to tell you, other than what I've observed in my comings and goings over the last 15 years or so. They have tightened up the visa and border controls over the last few years, but I still haven't heard of anyone (at least not any Americans) being denied entry over mismatched passport stamps. Problems of that variety normally come later.

This being France, however, there's usually a way. If you try the mairie, you need to go to the mairie where you are currently living. Play the wide eyed innocent and let them find the stamp in the passport. Like fatbrit says over in the US section, answer all questions honestly, but answer only the question you're asked and don't volunteer any extraneous information. If they ask you when you entered France, give them the date you did and don't say anything about Italy.

Do not lose your cool at any point, and when you hit a wall, lay your problem (without any detail) on the person you're dealing with ("oh, what would you recommend I do?"). It sounds lame, but it often works. Remember that fonctionnaires don't want any trouble - they just want to see the paper or stamp or whatever it is they were told they need. Besides, it never hurts to have a friend at the mairie or at the prefecture. And if you hit a brick wall, back down gracefully and come back another day with a new strategy.

Worst case scenario, if your husband winds up having to go back to the US, it should be a fairly short situation to get whatever visa it is he needs - or even just to get a new stamp in the passport on re-entry to France.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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