Immigration, Life in Paris

Peak Productivity :

It has been a red letter day, to be sure!

I planned it yesterday, and I did it today : I renewed my visa!

Or rather, I put in the request to renew my visa, to which I should receive a response in, well, some undetermined number of weeks.

I want to take you through my day, because it’s truly been a wild one. I had been at a meeting/event, and despite drinking loads of water and trying to get to bed before midnight, I woke up at 5:45 and I felt like a baby mole rat getting a glimpse of sun for the first time.

I was in my jogging kit and out the door (with my paperwork) by 6:35, and I arrived to the prefecture around 6:55, kicking myself as I took a shortcut through a garden. Why hadn’t I woken up earlier? I was convinced that I’d be quite a ways down the unofficially official waiting list and that I’d spend the better part of my morning in the prefecture, subsequently missing my translation appointment.

Instead, I was the 5th person to sign up! Only one of the other people sat down to wait at the door, and I felt bad about leaving so I asked if she’d like me to bring her back a croissant or something else to eat. She said she’d be fine, and so I walked home to change into actual clothing and try to consume as much coffee as possible, as quickly as possible, without drowning.

I walked back to the prefecture (I’ve been in a FitBit steps challenge all week, and I was hell-bent on winning, clearly!) and arrived again around 8:30. The list had grown, but I was prepared! Or, so I thought…

The security guard came to collect us, we organised ourselves by number, and in 10 minutes I had spoken to the pre-appointment desk and was sent upstairs to submit my dossier. The girl who had waited at the prefecture was sitting next to me, reading off the list of required documents under her breath as she double-triple-quadruple checked her own dossier.

“Passport, carte de sejour, photos…”

My heart clenched.

After I had taken the trouble to break a 5 euro bill during my lunch break, to bring my makeup to work and apply it in the weird bathroom lighting, to get into a photo booth in the metro (without a privacy curtain!), and take pictures (in which I looked like a serial killer)… I had forgotten my photos inside my Filofax, which I’d left on my desk to keep my bag from being too heavy…

I didn’t shriek, but I did probably scare the daylights out of this girl by dumping the contents of my change purse into my lap, digging out another 5 euro, begging her to take my number and trade it with mine if I was called before her, and booking it down the stairs to the photo machine. The fact that I wasn’t wailing like a banshee on the outside should tell you nothing about my interior panic.

I waited at the photo booth behind a girl who had also forgotten her pictures. The digital ticket counter kept ringing, *ping* *ping* *ping*, and I was convinced that each time was my number being called upstairs (which, naturally, has the same tone to indicate a new person has been summoned).

Thankfully, I was able to take more photos (in which I look thoroughly panicked) and race up the stairs before my number was called.

Naturally, the game had just begun. When I went up to the desk and handed in my original and photocopied documents, the woman behind the window quickly told me, “but you’re missing proof of your social coverage!”

No, Madame. Ce n’est pas possible…. I somehow remained calm. I explained that I had been a student covered by LMDE for social security and Henner for mutuelle, and that I had both cards to prove it in my wallet. Pushing them under the window, I felt something flare in my chest.

“Where does it say on the paper, given to me by your colleague, that I need to prove my social coverage?”

What’s the phrase for, “the indignance in me recognises the indignance in you?”

She responded with what can only be described as sympathetic condescension, tapping the paper, “Right here, madame…”

She was pointing to the wrong visa. I wasn’t applying to renew my student status, for which you surely need to prove you’re covered by at least social security. I’m applying for the autorisation provisoire de séjour, for which you do not need to demonstrate that you’ve purchased social security (even though I will, obviously!)

Turning back to the paper, she hummed, noting that for the APS, I did indeed have all of the correct paperwork, before passing me the correct forms to fill in and sign. I waited for another meeting at another window, and received my attestation that I had requested a new visa. I was told that I would probably hear within a few weeks, but if I didn’t then I had to come to the prefecture to get a temporary paper to allow me to leave the country. Because, you know, I won’t be able to do that after August 31st without some kind of status change!

Ultimately, I was out of the prefecture by 10:02am, and feeling triumphant, but my day was only getting started.

I had wanted to make this into a whole-day productivity post and tell you what happened at the translator’s. This post is already quite long so I’m going to leave it here and save the rest for tomorrow! It’s going to be another fiendishly busy day, and I’m excited for it!



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