Expat Forum For People Moving Overseas And Living Abroad banner
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,846 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We are very confused and hope you can offer an opinion on what is going on with my visa extension. I am engaged to a French national. As a US citizen I was told before I arrived in April that a request for a long term visa on the basis of marriage to my French national fiancée, who I have known for 34 years would be declined as we were both in the process of divorcing our respective spouses at that time. The person at the French Consulate in NY told me to come over on a Schengen Visa and pray that our divorces be completed within the 90 days or I must leave France as they are never extended.

Having met with the Prefecture’s office, it was indeed extended for three months as my divorce was completed and now we await my fiancée’s, which is expected before year end. We were told my visa could only be extended twice and to call this person at the Visa section on the day my first extension was to expire. Three weeks earlier we dropped off the additional documents needed for the second extension.

My fiancée called him to confirm his receipt of the documents. When she asked what was the next time she should contact him, he asked when it was to expire and told her to call on the day it expires. When she called him, he again asked when it was to expire and she replied “today”. He apologized to her and asked that she call him the next day (as he did not review the file). When she called him the next day, he was obviously very busy and told her that we would receive a letter detailing what is needed and then to go and pick up the “documents”. He also said it would come with instructions for what we are to do in the future as our plans are to marry and for me to remain in France and establish myself.

The major question is how to "read" what she was told. I am five days beyond the expiration of my visa, which makes me illegal and we have yet to receive this letter. Any thoughts or suggestions as we are going crazy and my fiancée is very reluctant to call this person again and become a “nudge”. Thank you
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
51,620 Posts
Welcome to France! This is not all that unusual a situation. The good news is that France isn't nearly as sticky about the details of these sorts of rules as other countries (say, the US).

You may have to simply become a "noodge". Give the letter a couple of days to arrive, and then call again if you haven't received it. Make sure you have the guy's name. If worse comes to worst, you may have to go in to the prefecture and ask to see him, but give him a while to come through with the information and/or renewal that he has promised.

As long as you're not looking for work or doing anything else that requires verification of your immigration status, you shouldn't have any problem. Absolute worst possible case would be that, for some reason, your contact at the prefecture finds himself unable to come through with the extension for you. In this case, you would have to go back to the US and apply for a long-stay visa without work privileges, which would allow you to return to France and remain there while you wait for your fiancée's divorce to come through. They do seem to grant these visas pretty easily and quickly.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,846 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Welcome to France! This is not all that unusual a situation. The good news is that France isn't nearly as sticky about the details of these sorts of rules as other countries (say, the US).

You may have to simply become a "noodge". Give the letter a couple of days to arrive, and then call again if you haven't received it. Make sure you have the guy's name. If worse comes to worst, you may have to go in to the prefecture and ask to see him, but give him a while to come through with the information and/or renewal that he has promised.

As long as you're not looking for work or doing anything else that requires verification of your immigration status, you shouldn't have any problem. Absolute worst possible case would be that, for some reason, your contact at the prefecture finds himself unable to come through with the extension for you. In this case, you would have to go back to the US and apply for a long-stay visa without work privileges, which would allow you to return to France and remain there while you wait for your fiancée's divorce to come through. They do seem to grant these visas pretty easily and quickly.
Cheers,
Bev
Thanks very much for your reply. Before I left New York, the guy at the French Consulate made it very, very clear not to overstay my time in France as it would have serious implications when I applied for the CDS.

If I am forced to return to the USA, and apply for the long term visa without authorization to work, how does one purchase round trip tickets to come back to France without knowing how much time the issuance of the visa will actually take. Additionally, can this long term visa be converted into a CDS with authorization to work once we marry here in France without needing to return to the USA agan>

Thanks again for your great help.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
157 Posts
How annoying! I agree with Bev, though, that you're unlikely to have much of a problem with the authorities, despite what the consulate told you. I've definitely overstayed at least one tourist visa, and I think one work visa, and it never came back to haunt me when applying for a carte de séjour. I think they're mostly concerned with people working or collecting benefits illegally. With the way travel works within Europe it's just hard for them to know how long you've been here - if you go to Switzerland, for instance, you're unlikely to get a stamp on your passport. Even coming from the US I've often just been waved through immigration - when I knew I would need a date of entry I had to specifically ask them to stamp my passport.

If I understand right it's been 5 days since you spoke to him? It might just be taking a long time to get to you. When our bank sent us our mortgage papers it took 10 days to arrive from 4 km away...would've been faster by pigeon.
Some airlines have pretty reasonable long-term tickets that let you change the return date. I've flown this way on BA and Lufthansa before. It often costs around 100 euros to change the return.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,846 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
How annoying! I agree with Bev, though, that you're unlikely to have much of a problem with the authorities, despite what the consulate told you. I've definitely overstayed at least one tourist visa, and I think one work visa, and it never came back to haunt me when applying for a carte de séjour. I think they're mostly concerned with people working or collecting benefits illegally. With the way travel works within Europe it's just hard for them to know how long you've been here - if you go to Switzerland, for instance, you're unlikely to get a stamp on your passport. Even coming from the US I've often just been waved through immigration - when I knew I would need a date of entry I had to specifically ask them to stamp my passport.

If I understand right it's been 5 days since you spoke to him? It might just be taking a long time to get to you. When our bank sent us our mortgage papers it took 10 days to arrive from 4 km away...would've been faster by pigeon.
Some airlines have pretty reasonable long-term tickets that let you change the return date. I've flown this way on BA and Lufthansa before. It often costs around 100 euros to change the return.
Thank you for your reply. I am confused. Are you saying "How annoying" because of my questions? Your experience is appreciated and I will try to find some comfort while attempting to remain calm while awaiting the pigeon to arrive. Please keep in mind though that one persons experience does not guarantee that the next person will share the same result, especially when the dates are clearly marked in their passports as mine are. Thanks again.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
51,620 Posts
The problem is that, officially, you cannot change visa types from within France - and you really cannot either extend a Schengen visa or convert a Schengen visa to a long-stay visa (even a spouse visa). The person at the prefecture is doing you an immense favor by extending your Schengen visa at all - the comment about how it can only be done twice mystifies me, but hey, if he can do it, that's super.

Stick with your "friend" at the prefecture and let him advise you what he thinks you should do next.

Technically, you can certainly get married while you're still on a Schengen visa - but to get your spouse visa you are supposed to return back home to apply for any long-term visa. (A spouse visa can be issued within a few days - max a week or so - of your appointment at the consulate.) A "friend" at the prefecture may or may not be able to swing the spouse visa for you if you're still on an extended Schengen when you eventually marry.

Not trying to rattle you, but are you aware that a divorced woman cannot marry for one year after her divorce becomes final unless she gets a doctor's statement certifying that she is not pregnant? (It's possible they have finally changed this law, but last I knew it was still in force.) Obviously, past a certain age, this is just one more piece of paper in the scavenger hunt needed to marry in France - but just so you know...

If you wind up having to go back for the fiancé visa (actually, just a long-stay visa without work privileges), you might want to consider booking the appointment at the consulate before flying over (you can usually do this online) and then planning your "vacation" back in the States for 2 to 3 weeks. That should actually give you enough time to get your visa. (Though having a ticket you can change is actually a very good idea - just in case.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
157 Posts
Sorry, I just meant that your situation must be annoying for you! Should have been clearer. I do feel for you. This administrative stuff can drive anyone crazy.

I understand why you're worried about the visa situation. We all want to do things the proper way, but they don't always make it easy. If you're really concerned, I wouldn't worry about being too pushy, just call them and be extremely polite with lots of "sorry to bother you with this" type language. Maybe he'll tell you it's already been sent, or maybe it will serve as a friendly reminder to him to send it off.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,846 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The problem is that, officially, you cannot change visa types from within France - and you really cannot either extend a Schengen visa or convert a Schengen visa to a long-stay visa (even a spouse visa). The person at the prefecture is doing you an immense favor by extending your Schengen visa at all - the comment about how it can only be done twice mystifies me, but hey, if he can do it, that's super.

Stick with your "friend" at the prefecture and let him advise you what he thinks you should do next.

Technically, you can certainly get married while you're still on a Schengen visa - but to get your spouse visa you are supposed to return back home to apply for any long-term visa. (A spouse visa can be issued within a few days - max a week or so - of your appointment at the consulate.) A "friend" at the prefecture may or may not be able to swing the spouse visa for you if you're still on an extended Schengen when you eventually marry.

Not trying to rattle you, but are you aware that a divorced woman cannot marry for one year after her divorce becomes final unless she gets a doctor's statement certifying that she is not pregnant? (It's possible they have finally changed this law, but last I knew it was still in force.) Obviously, past a certain age, this is just one more piece of paper in the scavenger hunt needed to marry in France - but just so you know...

If you wind up having to go back for the fiancé visa (actually, just a long-stay visa without work privileges), you might want to consider booking the appointment at the consulate before flying over (you can usually do this online) and then planning your "vacation" back in the States for 2 to 3 weeks. That should actually give you enough time to get your visa. (Though having a ticket you can change is actually a very good idea - just in case.)
Cheers,
Bev
Thanks Bev for your help. We are going to try to contact this person again tomorrow. We do appreciate all his help with this. What we are trying to do is avoid all the air fares back and forth as it is an expense that is quite difficult as I am unable to work here while we await all this to be completed.

Getting a letter from the doctor certifying that my fiancee is not pregnent is not an issue and as you said, is just another paper we need.

My fiancee and I are discussing options and everyone here who is French keeps telling us that my over-stay is not a threat to France and being an American who is not drawing on the system is not going to be an issue. My only question is once we marry and we apply for my CDS, how long will it be (even when you factor in the OFII medical, a possible requirement to have the 400+ hours of French instruction in the language) until they give me the ability to find a job. A huge concern for us. My skills are very strong in business and even if I am not totally fluent in French believe that I will not have a great difficulty securing a job once I can get approval to work. That is a huge question for us. Again, thank you for your help and for everyone's input with this.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
51,620 Posts
My fiancee and I are discussing options and everyone here who is French keeps telling us that my over-stay is not a threat to France and being an American who is not drawing on the system is not going to be an issue. My only question is once we marry and we apply for my CDS, how long will it be (even when you factor in the OFII medical, a possible requirement to have the 400+ hours of French instruction in the language) until they give me the ability to find a job. A huge concern for us. My skills are very strong in business and even if I am not totally fluent in French believe that I will not have a great difficulty securing a job once I can get approval to work. That is a huge question for us. Again, thank you for your help and for everyone's input with this.
Actually, I've been there and done that, too. Being illegal for a while won't adversely affect your chances for a long-stay visa. But, trying to "gut it out" to get your carte de séjour without going back to the States will take considerably longer.

Technically, once you are on a spouse visa, you have the right to work - but practically speaking, many employers won't touch you until you have your vignette (i.e. the validation of your visa in your passport that shows you've had your OFII visit).

As for the chances of finding work with minimal French, especially outside of Paris, all I can say is "good luck" (or maybe "bonne chance"). It's not impossible, but it won't be easy. There really is a different business culture over here and except at a large international company, they'll want to know that you are familiar with how business works here. (I have to confess I used to get a real kick out of the conversations with my colleagues about the "suits" from the US headquarters and their unreasonable expectations.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,846 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So today is day 15 where I am an "illegal over-stayer". My fiancee spoke with the Prefecture's office last week and told our contact that the lack of a formal visa was causing much stress. The reply was that their job was causing them great stress as well :) We are still assured that the letter is coming but then again, so is Christmas. Maybe I should ask Santa for a CDS for Christmas. Then again, I had heard that the Prefecture's office was very busy as an article in Est Republican showed yesterday that they are preparing or have begun to expel a large number of people who settled here from Kosovo. I have not personally read the article yet. Just as a remark, the French school I attend seems to have a very large if not huge number of students from Kosovo. It is hard to know who is from where are the faces seem to come and go as often as a door is opened and closes. I'll keep you posted on what happens with my visa. Thanks again.
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top