Immigration Insanity

It’s that time of year!

I recently created a shared calendar for our household, and there are three upcoming meetings at the Préfecture scheduled for this week. By meetings, I naturally mean, “ARRIVE AT 7AM TO WAIT IN LINE UNTIL 9 IF YOU WANT TO HAVE ANY HOPE OF GETING TO WORK ON TIME!”

I’m waiting for a couple of pieces to fall into place. My Google Sheet of all the necessary paperwork for three different bureaucratic processes is complete, but my dossiers are not. I’m going in tomorrow morning to confirm that what I have is sufficient, and if it isn’t, I’ll take one of my three freshly printed (and extremely expensive!) birth certificates up to my translator, and pay her even more money to translate them during my lunch break.

Are we having fun yet?

By Friday, I will have turned in my request for a fourth year in France, and I can’t believe how long it’s been. Sometimes I feel like I only arrived yesterday, and sometimes I feel like I’ve been here for a decade.

I was thinking about the idea of making the right choice when it comes to my life. Where I live, what jobs I do, how I support my friends and family. Will I regret living so far from my family? Will I regret moving away from certain friends, or not moving closer to others?

I’m going through a truly incredible amount of effort and money just to stay in France. But is it “just to stay” or is it something more? People endure a lot of change and challenge in their effort to put down roots in a community, whether the challenges are strictly bureaucratic or not. Getting to know your baker or your florist takes a lot of effort, but there aren’t necessarily deadlines for making community connections.

I keep telling people our nebulous plans for the next year, describing what will happen if / when my permanent residence is granted. None of those plans truly feel real, though. This feeling that our lives don’t truly start until we don’t have to worry about our visa or our work permissions is relatively common among non-citizens. It comes with the idea that you don’t always get to choose what you’ll do for work, or where you live.

You do the jobs you can get, and you rent the first apartment you’re offered. We don’t have the luxury of shopping around or designing a perfect professional life, or finding the perfect home.

On one hand, it feels like your life grows up around you. On the other, it is hard to overstate how fantastic even the smallest part of everyday life can be…

It gets a little old to hold on to very specific dreams when they are so easily made impossible by bureaucracy. That contract doesn’t last long enough for the visa, or the salary isn’t high enough; that incredible start-up can’t pay the tax on hiring a foreign worker. There are challenges to getting a job anywhere these days, and I’m trying to stay open to opportunities that I didn’t expect, or paths that I hadn’t yet explored, rather than holding out for one or two idealised options.

There are, at least, some very concrete things to do this week. The first visit to confirm the list of obligatory documents, a call to a potential future option to confirm the visa path that I’ll need to take, possibly a visit to my translator, and then a return to the prefecture to deposit my dossier.

I’m hoping to avoid a visit to my lawyer, at least. Yesterday was a thirteen-hour day for me, and I can only see things getting longer and longer as I’m up earlier to try and do all the necessary paperwork before work, or up later trying to get things copied, organised, translated, and written appropriately. All that while maintaining relative normalcy and not shrieking at work!

Once I get a good list from the Préfecture, I’ll write another post to update any people in my situation with exactly what I’m required to bring to renew my visa. While the French are notoriously inconsistent when it comes to this kind of paperwork, it should establish a good baseline for anyone looking for help!


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