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Yesterday my family arrived in France after quite a travel ordeal. We have our visas and will turn them into CDS's in the next few months. Our direct flight to Paris got re-routed to Brussels due to weather. After sitting on the tarmac for over 3 hours, there was an announcement that if the weather didn't clear in half an hour, we were going to deplane and be bused to Paris.

Thanks to Bev and others on these forums, I knew that would spell big trouble for my family as we would never officially clear customs/immigration at a French border. I immediately informed the flight crew who told me they would help us make special arrangements such that our family would be allowed to wait it out in Brussels until flights became available.

And then, about 15 minutes later the pilot announced we had to hurry up and get ready to depart because there was a break in the weather. (Which I don't think there was as that was the scariest landing I think I've ever had, but that's another story....)

Moral of the story is to be informed because things don't always go as planned and you want to make sure you don't make any major mistakes when the pressure is on.
 

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I don't think, in hindsight, it would have mattered had you entered Schengen at Brussels Airport, as you'd normally have had your passport stamped there anyway (ask for it if they don't, and keep your plane ticket/boarding pass for the Paris flight), and most visas allow you a transit through other Schengen states up to 5 days.
 

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I don't think, in hindsight, it would have mattered had you entered Schengen at Brussels Airport, as you'd normally have had your passport stamped there anyway (ask for it if they don't, and keep your plane ticket/boarding pass for the Paris flight), and most visas allow you a transit through other Schengen states up to 5 days.
It kind of depends - if they deplaned solely in anticipation of a later flight, the immigration people might not have stamped their passports. It's hard to tell these days what they're going to do. (Yesterday's wind storms were pretty fierce and the airports at Paris were shut down for part of the day.)

Worst case scenario, if you were to get to France and find that no one had stamped your visa, you should go to the local gendarmerie with your boarding pass/ticket receipt and tell them what happened. They used to have the authority to stamp your passport, saying that you had just arrived "with the intent to stay for the long-term" - and even if they don't have that authority any more, they should be able to tell you where to go to get the stamp.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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This is a pretty hazy area of immigration law. When my wife arrived from Bangkok in October, she arrived in Vienna with a transit flight on to Lyon. Austrian immigration stamped her passport with the Schengen states entry.

On arrival in Lyon, not an immigration officer to be seen, and in the confusion of arrival with baby and approximately twice the permitted weight of baggage (not a baht in surcharge paid!), she didn't get her passport stamped by French immigration.

I cleverly didn't notice until three months later when we were about to lodge her carte de séjour application, and for a while we were worried - would the préfecture notice this? (the CdS application required copies of Schengen visa and French entry stamp - so we included a copy of the Vienna stamp).

We needn't have worried - it wasn't even mentioned, and the CdS turned up less than two weeks later.
 

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This is a pretty hazy area of immigration law. When my wife arrived from Bangkok in October, she arrived in Vienna with a transit flight on to Lyon. Austrian immigration stamped her passport with the Schengen states entry.

On arrival in Lyon, not an immigration officer to be seen, and in the confusion of arrival with baby and approximately twice the permitted weight of baggage (not a baht in surcharge paid!), she didn't get her passport stamped by French immigration.

I cleverly didn't notice until three months later when we were about to lodge her carte de séjour application, and for a while we were worried - would the préfecture notice this? (the CdS application required copies of Schengen visa and French entry stamp - so we included a copy of the Vienna stamp).

We needn't have worried - it wasn't even mentioned, and the CdS turned up less than two weeks later.
I'd have thought by now that even the most provincial of French officials are aware of the Schengen rule and a stamp on entry to the Schengen zone is as good as French immigration stamp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'd have thought by now that even the most provincial of French officials are aware of the Schengen rule and a stamp on entry to the Schengen zone is as good as French immigration stamp.
Interesting, as the documentation we have asks only about entry into France. We have a lawyer (through DH's employer) providing some assistance on our paperwork and she was adament about needing the exact date of entry into France and given what we read, we felt we needed to document that date of entry.

I didn't care if we cleared customs in Belgium or not, I was just concerned with getting an official stamp declaring that we had entered France on a certain date. I didn't want to go to the Prefecture and have them throw a fit because we could only prove when we entered a Schengen country.

And for the record - landing a plane in 61 mph winds is never a good idea.
 
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I'd have thought by now that even the most provincial of French officials are aware of the Schengen rule and a stamp on entry to the Schengen zone is as good as French immigration stamp.
As we all know, or should do by now, French bureaucracy is hardly the most efficient. Your average clerk at the town hall of a village of some 2,500 people is unlikely to have much of a clue, and the Vaucluse préfecture isn't much better. They asked for a French entry stamp, we didn't provide one. Ample justification for a fonctionnaire to cause problems if he felt so inclined.
 

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As we all know, or should do by now, French bureaucracy is hardly the most efficient. Your average clerk at the town hall of a village of some 2,500 people is unlikely to have much of a clue, and the Vaucluse préfecture isn't much better. They asked for a French entry stamp, we didn't provide one. Ample justification for a fonctionnaire to cause problems if he felt so inclined.
But it shouldn't be like that, surely? Civil servant's job is to implement government rules, which nowadays are largely bound by EU statutes. If a rule which has been in existence for a decade or more isn't understood by provincial officials, there is something wrong and should be put right. Can a citizen appeal to someone like their MP to raise matter at the higher level so that at least every resident gets fair treatment at the hand of officials?
Perhaps I'm not a French resident and don't understand?
 
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It doesn't work that way. If you live, for example, in a small Vaucluse village, there are three sets of rules that apply - European, French, and local - usually not in that order. Opting for confrontation to prove a point is not my idea of a productive move, where French bureaucracy is the problem. In many respects it remains a law unto itself. Cooperation, going with the flow, is the quickest way to achieve your ends. Taking on the system is a last resort as far as I'm concerned.
 

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But it shouldn't be like that, surely? Civil servant's job is to implement government rules, which nowadays are largely bound by EU statutes. If a rule which has been in existence for a decade or more isn't understood by provincial officials, there is something wrong and should be put right. Can a citizen appeal to someone like their MP to raise matter at the higher level so that at least every resident gets fair treatment at the hand of officials?
Perhaps I'm not a French resident and don't understand?
Obviously you haven't lived in France... :rolleyes:

When dealing with local officials, the only thing they care about is the sheet of instructions they receive from their immediate superior (i.e. for the mairie, the instructions from the préfecture). If the local préfecture is slow about getting changes out - or just takes a somewhat "original" approach to implementation - it really doesn't matter what the national or European government thinks.

There also is the matter of the historical "discretion" granted to fonctionnaires in France. Whether or not it still applies, you don't want to call their bluff, because they can make life very unpleasant for a humble supplicant - and, if you get along with them ok, they can make things slip through the red tape slicker than grease through a goose!

And forget about appealing to elected officials. That's not their job and even when you try that, they aren't very good at it. (Been there, done that, have the t-shirt.) Elected officials rarely interact with the voters. Why do you figure that Sarko arranged to be out of the country for the opening of the Salon de l'Agriculture this past weekend!? Last year he got himself in trouble by calling some old guy a bad name and got caught on video which immediately became a huge success on YouTube.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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