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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

I have few quick questions... searched for both on the forum but got mixed answers.

The first is in regards to my spouse-visa. Has anyone else had problems getting an appointment, and do they require your French spouse to be with you?

I have to get it through the consulate in Atlanta, GA USA, and it's proving to be difficult, as they only make appointments online, and only show the next couple of months in advance (which no appointments are available). So it looks like (my wife starts a job in Paris on Sept. 1st) that I'll have to go with her to help sort out the apartment and banking, and then come BACK and apply. But now they've said (Atlanta consulate) that she has to be with me in person for the appointment (which the Washington DC consulate on the phone acted like I had three heads when I was asking them... "Well, if she WANTS to come but she doesn't HAVE to..." ) Anyone get a spouse visa from the Atlanta consulate?

I'd also talked to a friend of mine at the Aussie consulate here in Atlanta, and he'd suggested contacting the Washington DC consulate (who has plenty of appointments available) and seeing if they would take me since I'm traveling through there on business... but they seem to be very particular about who goes where to get a visa. Little frustrating since they are all doing the same thing!

Also, does anyone have a recommendation as to a good starter bank for people coming from the US, and what does it typically cost to transfer money?

I'd seen La Poste talked about. How much does it typically cost to transfer money? I understand there will be fees and such (paying for a card with a chip, etc)... was mainly concerned with the transfer of money and what that could potentially cost...

Many thanks in advance. Would love to get together with some ex-pats in Paris this fall. (If I can get this VISA!)
 

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Just got done playing with the Atlanta consulate's appointment scheduling site, and it looks like you got farther in the process than I managed to. What I suspect is the case here is that everyone is taking their legally mandated 4 weeks of vacation during the summer and that has drastically reduced the number of appointments available.

All the consulates are pretty strict about limiting their appointments to residents of their "catchment area" and they say they require you to show a current driver's license to "prove" your residence in the area.

While you say that "they are all doing the same thing!¨ You're likely to find that each and every French consulate has its own variations on what should (logically speaking) be the same process.

I haven't heard of them requiring the French spouse to show up at the interview, but you do need the original of your spouse's French identity card (carte d'indentité) plus the requested copies. If, by chance, your wife has not been keeping up with her registration with the French consulate while you've been living in the US, that may be part of the issue. She can get a new carte d'indentité once she's in France (she'll have to declare her old card "lost or stolen") and that will take some time. But as long as you have the originals of her carte d'identité and your livret de famille (you do have one of those, don't you?) I don't imagine they'd really hold you to having your spouse by your side.

As for a starter bank, you might want to look into Banque Populaire Rives de Paris (used to be called BRED). It's a sort of a co-operative bank and I've found that they are possibly a bit more reasonable than the big commercial banks. Still, French banking is a real racket - you get charged for everything.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Just got done playing with the Atlanta consulate's appointment scheduling site, and it looks like you got farther in the process than I managed to. What I suspect is the case here is that everyone is taking their legally mandated 4 weeks of vacation during the summer and that has drastically reduced the number of appointments available.

All the consulates are pretty strict about limiting their appointments to residents of their "catchment area" and they say they require you to show a current driver's license to "prove" your residence in the area.

While you say that "they are all doing the same thing!¨ You're likely to find that each and every French consulate has its own variations on what should (logically speaking) be the same process.

I haven't heard of them requiring the French spouse to show up at the interview, but you do need the original of your spouse's French identity card (carte d'indentité) plus the requested copies. If, by chance, your wife has not been keeping up with her registration with the French consulate while you've been living in the US, that may be part of the issue. She can get a new carte d'indentité once she's in France (she'll have to declare her old card "lost or stolen") and that will take some time. But as long as you have the originals of her carte d'identité and your livret de famille (you do have one of those, don't you?) I don't imagine they'd really hold you to having your spouse by your side.

As for a starter bank, you might want to look into Banque Populaire Rives de Paris (used to be called BRED). It's a sort of a co-operative bank and I've found that they are possibly a bit more reasonable than the big commercial banks. Still, French banking is a real racket - you get charged for everything.
Cheers,
Bev
Thanks Bev. We are aware of the French identity card needed and the copies, her's is up to date. We should get our livret de famille either this week or next (thus wanting to go ahead and book an appointment instead of waiting two weeks, then trying). The consulate's answer to the website is just that "we only show one month in advance" (which isn't necessarily true as we saw a Sept 6 appointment available last week...can't take because I've got a friend getting married Sept 11th in England) and that they update it everyday at 6:00pm, so check at 6:01pm and see if anything is available. So! There you are. I'm thinking we are just going to have to check every day and get an appointment for after my friend's wedding in September and I'll just come back for however long it takes. (Yay, more plane tickets).

Do you have any idea of what they charge to transfer money, and what the best process would be to do that? I'd thought about going with someone like HSBC... but they unfortunately don't have a branch in Atlanta.

Thanks!
 

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We've had good luck with the Caisse D'Epargne in our village and with the office in Paris near the hotel we always stay at. Both are rather tiny offices and the staff are quite friendly. The only drawback with Caisse D'Epargne is that you have to be in France to open the account..

We needed a bank account already in existence when we bought our house in order to have the utilities turned on and paid. We were able to set up an account with Barclays' Paris office from the US. It took a couple of weeks, made worse by the July/August holidays when the banker was away, but it worked. We worked with Frederic Robert there. He helped quite a bit in getting us all the paperwork and providing explanations. He speaks English well. You can reach him at [email protected] or +33 (0) 1 44 95 13 80.

I do not recommend Barclays as a long-term solution relative to the fees, which we found steep. However, if you need a bank quickly and you're not in France now, they work.

Disclaimer: We're not affiliated with either Caisse D'Epargne or Barclays - we've found them useful in different ways since buying our house in France.

Ray
 

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Discussion Starter #5
We've had good luck with the Caisse D'Epargne in our village and with the office in Paris near the hotel we always stay at. Both are rather tiny offices and the staff are quite friendly. The only drawback with Caisse D'Epargne is that you have to be in France to open the account..

We needed a bank account already in existence when we bought our house in order to have the utilities turned on and paid. We were able to set up an account with Barclays' Paris office from the US. It took a couple of weeks, made worse by the July/August holidays when the banker was away, but it worked. We worked with Frederic Robert there. He helped quite a bit in getting us all the paperwork and providing explanations. He speaks English well. You can reach him at [email protected] or +33 (0) 1 44 95 13 80.

I do not recommend Barclays as a long-term solution relative to the fees, which we found steep. However, if you need a bank quickly and you're not in France now, they work.

Disclaimer: We're not affiliated with either Caisse D'Epargne or Barclays - we've found them useful in different ways since buying our house in France.

Ray
Thanks Ray. I suppose being here isn't an issue as we'll both be in France in about a month anyways. My line of thinking was more "well, if there is some way I could take care of that in the states." But if I end up bank hopping because of it, I'd rather just wait until we are in Paris to set something up.

Would it be worth it to go with someone, like say, Citibank, who has a single branch in Paris, start an account in the US, get them to transfer the account to a French account in Euros (my thinking is that I would just have the Dollar to Euro conversion and not a huge fee since I am already with the bank) and then start anther bank account with another French bank (one location in Paris isn't ideal)? Or am I thinking about this the wrong way and do they just charge me anyways? :)

Thanks for all of your helpful suggestions.
 

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Would it be worth it to go with someone, like say, Citibank, who has a single branch in Paris, start an account in the US, get them to transfer the account to a French account in Euros (my thinking is that I would just have the Dollar to Euro conversion and not a huge fee since I am already with the bank) and then start anther bank account with another French bank (one location in Paris isn't ideal)? Or am I thinking about this the wrong way and do they just charge me anyways? :)

Thanks for all of your helpful suggestions.
Moving dollars to euros can be very costly. When we bought out house, moving the money to France for the purchase via our bank (Citizens Bank, a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Scotland) would have cost us $5-6,000 because the bank exchange rates and fees are so high.

We did find an alternate way to move dollars to euros. We use a service called Olsen and Associates (OANDA.com). You deposit dollars into a JPMorgan Chase account in New York via wire, then you can use the Internet to transfer the money by wire to any bank account in the world in any currency you like, including Euros. They offer the lowest exchange rate we've found. Our bank was going to charge $0.05/euro above the current exchange rate for the transfer plus fees. When you're transferring enough money to buy a house, that mounts up very quickly. OANDA's rates are as low as I've seen anywhere and the process is easy. And their help line is great.

Disclaimer: Again, I'm not affiliated with OANDA, just a very satisfied customer. :)

Ray
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Moving dollars to euros can be very costly. When we bought out house, moving the money to France for the purchase via our bank (Citizens Bank, a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Scotland) would have cost us $5-6,000 because the bank exchange rates and fees are so high.

We did find an alternate way to move dollars to euros. We use a service called Olsen and Associates (OANDA.com). You deposit dollars into a JPMorgan Chase account in New York via wire, then you can use the Internet to transfer the money by wire to any bank account in the world in any currency you like, including Euros. They offer the lowest exchange rate we've found. Our bank was going to charge $0.05/euro above the current exchange rate for the transfer plus fees. When you're transferring enough money to buy a house, that mounts up very quickly. OANDA's rates are as low as I've seen anywhere and the process is easy. And their help line is great.

Disclaimer: Again, I'm not affiliated with OANDA, just a very satisfied customer. :)

Ray
Thanks Ray, I'll look into that.
 

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Citibank isn't as "international" a bank as they like to make you think. In fact, the "branches" in each country are strictly speaking local banks and people report they don't really have the power to make international transfers very smooth.

For Banque Populaire, there is a 15.79€ fee to accept an incoming wire transfer and if it's not already in euros, an exchange fee of 0.05% for transfers up to 80,000 € - 0.025% on transfers over 80,000€ with a minimum exchange fee of 14.50€. Expect a wire transfer fee from your US bank.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Citibank isn't as "international" a bank as they like to make you think. In fact, the "branches" in each country are strictly speaking local banks and people report they don't really have the power to make international transfers very smooth.

For Banque Populaire, there is a 15.79€ fee to accept an incoming wire transfer and if it's not already in euros, an exchange fee of 0.05% for transfers up to 80,000 € - 0.025% on transfers over 80,000€ with a minimum exchange fee of 14.50€. Expect a wire transfer fee from your US bank.
Cheers,
Bev
Thanks Bev. It's looking like a service like what Ray was talking about is a great way to transfer Euros without incurring that .05% exchange fee, plus whatever rate they decide to give me.

Thanks so much for the help!
 

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Just remember to check fees on both ends of the transaction. I contacted my IRA holders while I was in the States recently and they will wire transfer and convert whatever I take out of my IRA for free, plus withhold whatever I tell them to (rather than a fixed percentage). Kind of blew me away - so now I have to see if I can get the insurance guy to set things up so I can transfer fund directly into the assurance vie instead of having to go through a bank.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Bev

That is very cool! We have a couple of 401Ks that I'm going to have to check on regarding free wire transfers, etc.

Thanks!

Ray
 

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Hi there,
I was wondering if could share your experience with the French Consulate in Atlanta. We're having so much trouble getting a response from them. We sent our paperwork at the end of March to get livret de famille. I had an visa appointment in June, so I had to cancel that one. Now I have an appointment in August. My husband sent several emails to Mme. Sadek, who handles livret de famille papers...no answer. Phone calls don't help either.
I'm getting really antsy.

Please help.
 

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Hi there,
I was wondering if could share your experience with the French Consulate in Atlanta. We're having so much trouble getting a response from them. We sent our paperwork at the end of March to get livret de famille. I had an visa appointment in June, so I had to cancel that one. Now I have an appointment in August. My husband sent several emails to Mme. Sadek, who handles livret de famille papers...no answer. Phone calls don't help either.
I'm getting really antsy.

Please help.
Hi Bulgan,

Ugh.... that doesn't give me hope! We applied for the marriage transcription and livret de famille in May, two days before Mme. Sadek was going on vacation. She told us it would be 6-8 Weeks MINIMUM, and we are now in our 9th week after she had returned from vacation.

I'm in a similar boat. I'm waiting on this paperwork to apply for a visa.... made an appointment in mid-September, hoping to have it by then, but I'm not sure I will. So I'll have to move it back and possibly be stuck in the states for a few months while this sorts itself out. Very frustrating....

Have they told you that your spouse has to be with you? They dropped that on me the other day by email. But I don't think it is correct, as the Embassy in Washington DC said that only the person applying had to be at the appointment. Either way, it is very frustrating, as the consulate here in Atlanta isn't keen on communication. My wife starts a job in Paris on September 1st, so it will be quite impossible to get her here with me....

Maybe I should take up residence a state that the Washington embassy serves. They seem to have plenty of appointments available and are very responsive.....

Aaron
 

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Hi Aaron,

Thanks for the quick reply. I share your frustration. Do you actually live in Atlanta? I live 4 hours away. Have you considered going to the consulate and make inquiries about where they're in the process? I think you can do that between 8:45 and 1pm without an appointment. Is your wife still here? If she goes with you it may help?
What I've read from the website the spouse doesn't have to be with you at the visa appointment. My husband is already in France.
I wish they would at least tell me how long more I have to wait...
 

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Moving dollars to euros can be very costly. When we bought out house, moving the money to France for the purchase via our bank (Citizens Bank, a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Scotland) would have cost us $5-6,000 because the bank exchange rates and fees are so high.

We did find an alternate way to move dollars to euros. We use a service called Olsen and Associates (OANDA.com). You deposit dollars into a JPMorgan Chase account in New York via wire, then you can use the Internet to transfer the money by wire to any bank account in the world in any currency you like, including Euros. They offer the lowest exchange rate we've found. Our bank was going to charge $0.05/euro above the current exchange rate for the transfer plus fees. When you're transferring enough money to buy a house, that mounts up very quickly. OANDA's rates are as low as I've seen anywhere and the process is easy. And their help line is great.

Disclaimer: Again, I'm not affiliated with OANDA, just a very satisfied customer. :)

Ray
Check out Everbank - I've moved thousands from dollars to Euros, never paid a penny in fees (to Everbank) and they pay interest on the deposits. Customer service is first class.

Great bank - the way it should be

Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hi Aaron,

Thanks for the quick reply. I share your frustration. Do you actually live in Atlanta? I live 4 hours away. Have you considered going to the consulate and make inquiries about where they're in the process? I think you can do that between 8:45 and 1pm without an appointment. Is your wife still here? If she goes with you it may help?
What I've read from the website the spouse doesn't have to be with you at the visa appointment. My husband is already in France.
I wish they would at least tell me how long more I have to wait...
Bulgan - Yes, we do live in Atlanta. Just went to the consulate today, thanks for the suggestion on just visiting in person. They didn't really give us an update on where we were in the process, as the person in charge is "on vacation" and will be back Monday. That doesn't really give me hope, but we are really hoping it will come in the next month and a half.

They also told us that the spouse doesn't have to be with you, BUT you will need a form saying that they currently reside and are working in France (that the French spouse can get from the local Mairie). Apparently, if you don't have that, they have to be with you. We'll be able to get that when we go in a few weeks.

They did tell me that my spouse-visa will take 2 weeks to a month, BUT he was like "oh do you speak French?" (I speak a little, am learning) and when I told him I only spoke a little and that I was working hard on learning, he said that I would NEED to know it, and acted like they would reject my visa application. (Oh goodie!) So I guess in the next two months I'll have to double up on Rossetta Stone and while in Paris talk to as many people as I can. :) But hopefully I'll just do my best and they'll require me to take classes (which I would like to do anyways). Oh la la...

Thanks Rynd2it for the bank info, I'll check that out. My mother-in-law frequently moves dollars to euros and her bank apparently doesn't charge her a fee....so we are looking into that as well. Societé Generale.... she called them and they just charge the international wire transfer fee.
 

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Hi Aaron,

I just found out Mme.Sadek no longer works there. The website says "En cours"
I thought I would let you know.
 

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Hi Aaron,

I just found out Mme.Sadek no longer works there. The website says "En cours"
I thought I would let you know.
Ahhh, well that would explain things. I was recently contacted by Mme Snider (Assistant to the Consul General) about our application, so I'm hoping that means it is coming very soon!

Did you get yours yet?
 

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Hi Aaron,

I just found out Mme.Sadek no longer works there. The website says "En cours"
I thought I would let you know.
Bulgan,

I found out that the person replacing Mme Sadek is Ms Celine Ferrand. She starts September 1st. Annabelle Snider was filling in for her.

Aaron
 

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Aaron,

Thank you for the info. I still haven't received my papers :(
Another question for you...are you shipping anything to France? I'm trying to get some of my things shipped. I'm comparing some companies.
 
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