Merde! My Trip to the French Embassy in Washington

WHAT HAPPENENED:

Well, today was a complete waste of time. The French Embassy refused to even look at my visa application because Stuart is in the EU.

I almost left completely defeated, but then I went back thinking “ask a different person and get a different answer”. It didn’t work. I left completely defeated anyway. I tried to explain that I wasn’t looking to establish residency in France. I just wanted to be with my husband for longer than the three months allowed on a Schengen while his US immigration went through. That didn’t make any difference, apparently.

I swear to GOD! Why TF does the embassy’s US website say…and I cut and paste here directly (bold for emphasis):

Visa for the spouse of a French national or European Union citizen

Visa for establishment in France

The foreign spouse of a French citizen (with exception to members of the European Union, of European Economic Space, of Switzerland, of Monaco, of St. Martin and of Algeria) [WELL I’M NONE OF THOSE; I’M A US CITIZEN!!! I REALIZE IN HINDSIGHT THIS MIGHT BE A CASE OF A POORLY CONSTRUCTED SENTENCE THAT THEY MEANT THE EXCEPTION TO APPLY TO THE FRENCH CITIZEN AND NOT THE SPOUSE] must obtain a long stay visa, valid as a resident card, in order to spend more than 90 days per semester in France. If granted, this visa is also a resident card at the same time, valid for as long as a year. You will only need to register at the local branch of the OFII (Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration) upon two first months of arrival in France.

If you stay more than a year in France, you will then need to apply for a Resident Card (“Carte de Séjour”)

This visa applies to all nationalities but Algerian or EU spouses of French nationals, for whom different agreements exists. [AGAIN, I’M NOT THE EU SPOUSE. I’M A US SPOUSE. CLEAR AS MUD! WHY THE HELL DOESN’T IT SAY “US SPOUSES OF EU CITIZENS”? THEN I WOULD HAVE KNOWN THEY WERE TALKING TO ME!]

[IT GOES ON TO SAY…]

If you would like to settle in France, the following documents must be presented:

You have to apply with all the required documents in original and one copy. The visa section does not make any copies.

PERSONNAL [NOT MY TYPO] APPEARANCE IS MANDATORY : you cannot apply by mail.

– passport valid for three months after the last day of stay in the Schengen States. Please make sure the passport holds at least two spare pages for the consulate to affix the visa. Your passport should also be in good condition to be accepted.

– copies of the 5 first pages of your passport.

– 2 long stay application forms (only ONE for US citizens) [SOUNDS TO ME LIKE THIS BEING A VISA TO FRANCE WHICH IS IN THE EU MEANS ONE CAN ASSUME THE FACT THAT THEY MENTION US CITIZENS WITHIN PARENTHESES MEANS US CITIZENS OF EU SPOUSES CAN APPLY. IS THERE NOT A PROBLEM HERE?] filled out and clearly readable. Please use black ink. Make sure your cell phone number and e-mail address are also added upon the forms,

– 2 photographs (more information about the photograph) (only ONE for US citizens) [AND AGAIN – I MEAN, IF US CITIZENS OF EU MEMBERS CAN’T EVEN TAKE THIS ROUTE, WHY THE HELL DO THEY EVEN MENTION US CITIZENS?]. All photos must be recent, identical, passport size – 1,4″ x 1,7″ (3,5cm x 4,5cm) and showing face front the forehead hairline and ears on a white background, the face must take up 70-80% of the photograph.

[AND THEN ON TO SAY…]

– for the spouse of a citizen of the European Union : – a copy of the French translation of your marriage certificate, – as well as a proof of European nationality. [WHY EVEN SAY THIS IF IT ISN’T EVEN POSSIBLE TO APPLY AS THE US SPOUSE OF A EUROPEAN CITIZEN??? IT’S NOT LIKE THE WEBSITE WAS RUSSIAN. IT’S THE US WEBSITE, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE. WHY NOT JUST SAY IN PLAIN ENGLISH (or even plain French): IF YOU ARE AN AMERICAN MARRIED TO A EUROPEAN, DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME FILLING IN THE APPLICATION, COMPILING DOCUMENTS, SPENDING $20 ON A RETURN ENVELOPE, AND DRIVING 30 MINUTES INTO THE CITY. DO NOT APPLY!]

So that’s what happened today. All those caps, hells, and other expletives might be a giveaway of how overjoyed I was to experience this today. Lesson: DO NOT GET HOPES UP!

MY OVERBLOWN REACTION BASED ON A YEAR’S WORTH OF CUMULATIVE CRAP:

“That’s it. It’s over. I want a divorce! I can’t do this anymore. I’m sick and tired of banging my  head against a wall. This is just too hard. It just isn’t worth it anymore. It’s killing me. I’m starting to associate my love for Stuart with nothing but suffering. I’m a wreck. I think I have PTSD. I’ve had dark circles under my eyes for a year. I can’t think. I can’t do that whole “request residency” at the prefecture again making a million copies of every document known to man. I’ve already been through that chapter.  We had tried to play by these rules during my 1st visit to France. We had called within one month of my arriving to make an appointment which we couldn’t get until two months later plus a week after my visa would have expired. Then I would have been waiting around for God knows how long for them to process it all, unable to leave the country without having to start all over again.”

Were they fucking yanking my chain? Pardon the French. I left the embassy in tears. My poor brother-in-law having driven me must have been quite uncomfortable.

MY FANTASY RESPONSE:

Okay, this isn’t the end of the world. It sucks. Yes. Okay. But you can do it. It’s just one more “giant but illusory” obstacle meant to make you stronger. Heck, you could probably make the appointment at the prefecture NOW and get a head start. You don’t even have to bring a complete application. Who cares if they say it is incomplete and send you away with a recipisse (a receipt proving that I applied)? At least you’ll be able to stay longer than three months. If that’s the game, play it. But don’t let this steal your heart and soul away. Don’t let this be the end of the world. Don’t give up NOW! And don’t bark at your family like it’s their fault. Let it all just roll off your back like marbles. Forgive even this.

I’m working on it.

Seriously, is this process for real? I mean, how many people have to go through this garbage? How many stories are out there besides mine? I’m sure there are much worse. This system is obviously designed to completely destroy what would otherwise have been perfectly delightful relationships. I tell you what. If I had my own country, I would completely annihilate this type of BS.

As it is, I just have to learn to accept it. I really am doing my best.

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4 thoughts on “Merde! My Trip to the French Embassy in Washington

  1. Pop the FLOODLIGHT attunement over the bldg. the day before your next appointment, Dielle. Zap ’em again before you leave the house the am of the appt. (-: I feel your pain. I lost my passport and doubt I can get an original birth cert without going back to Panama, but that’s not happening without a passport. Another circular conundrum which will be resolved in divine time. Resolve ON, Chin UP & keep us posted. ❤ ❤ ❤

  2. Most Schengen nations have two types of visa: short stay up to 90 days or settlement. There are also different rules for:
    – French nationals with non-EU family (spouse)
    – All other EU/EEA (European Economic Area) nationals with non-EU family (spouse): these are covered by the right of freedom of movement within the EU/EEA under directive 2004/38).This type of application should be the most straightforward, if their is a genuine family relationship (such as marriage), and the EU national (not being French if it concerns visiting France) and non-EU family pretty much have the right to visit France aslong as they are traveling together or if the non-EU family is going to join the EU national in France.

    Those non-EU, such as US citizens, wishing to visit or move in with a French national or any immigrant (except for EU/EEA nationals) fall under more strict rules. The funny thing is that Freedom of Movement under the before mentioned directive needs not to be applied to EU/EEA nationals in their own country. A member state may chose to do so but they are allowed to apply more strict (or less strict) rules to their own citizens. Many EU countries do apply more strict rules to their own citizens with immigrant family, having restricted immigration more and more since the zero’s. As far as French long stay (immigration) regulations go for French citizens and their family, they can pretty much make any legislation they wish.

    The bits you posted seem like a copy/paste from the embassy staff straight out of some handbook meant for all French embassies around the globe, not even bothering to change it so it fits applicants from the US… which you would expect the French embassy in the US to be dealing with… That and they could have labelled or divided the different type of visa/legislation better so it would have been straight forward for you under which category you would (not) fall.

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