Ducks in a row

All of our ducks in a row
All of our ducks in a row

It’s taken us a while to assemble all of the documents that the French consulate requires to apply for a long stay visitor’s visa and I think we’re now ready. There are 10 offices in the US and while each follows a similar list of requirements (passport, application, fee, etc.) some tell you specifically what must be included on each document and some want more information than others. The Miami consulate website shows a pretty general list without many details. Here’s what they have requested and how we have complied:

  • Proof of residence in Florida to use the Miami consulate—Florida driver’s license
  • Passport—original plus a copy of the ID pages
  • Application form—printed from the consulate website, filled in and signed
  • Processing fee—108 dollars each, subject to change with the exchange rate. They accept Visa/MC plus we had cash, with extra dollar bills and coins, just in case.
  • Status in the US—a short letter stating that we are US citizens, retired with pensions
  • Letter promising not to engage in any employment in France—Simple letter stating those words exactly, with the initial dates of stay included, signed and notarized.
  • Letter of employment in the US stating occupation and earnings—Simple letter stating “retired” and showing pension income in US dollars and in Euro.
  • Proof of means of income—Printout from the bank, signed by the branch manager, showing balances for the last 3 months; pension statements for the last 3 months; savings balance for last 3 months
  • Proof of medical coverage abroad—Specifics weren’t listed so we got a policy that other consulates recommended that included a zero deductible and repatriation to the US if medically necessary.The price was comparable to what we pay now for US health insurance with Blue Cross. Good to know: some Blue Cross policies will cover you while living overseas, saving you the additional cost of the extra insurance we had to buy.
  • Marriage certificate—original plus a photocopy
  • Proof of accommodation in France—Signed original lease plus a photocopy
  • One residence form for staying more than 6 months—printed from the consulate website, filled in and signed. Once you arrive in France, you mail this in to the immigration office who will schedule a medical exam and interview with the doctor.
  • Prepaid Express Mail envelope—This will be used to return our passports with the visas stamped inside.

That’s the extent of what the Miami consulate lists as the required documents but several other offices need a letter of motivation to explain why you want to live in France so we’ll take that along as well. In our case it states that we’re retired and we want to immerse ourselves in the local community, learning the language, the culture, the history, and benefiting from the high quality of life. We’ve read that you need to be honest and that flattery doesn’t hurt. We saw where one woman only put in this letter that she had bought a house in France and was told at the consulate “so what?”, and “that is not reason enough to be granted a visa.”

The one piece of advice that I’ve seen over and over from successful candidates and even one former visa processor is to assemble all of the documents exactly as requested in the exact order listed; i.e., the original of document #1 followed by its copy, then the original of document #2 and its copy, etc. We will be prepared accordingly.

A funny aside: Originally I wanted to call today’s post “That’s gross” based on those little carved wooden ducks in the photo. Bill ordered these online many years ago as ornaments for the Christmas tree and thought he was buying a dozen boxes of 12 little ducks in each box. What he didn’t realize was that each unit consisted of 12 boxes so he actually ordered a dozen units, a gross, or 144 boxes of 12 ducks. When you put 1700 ornaments on a 5-foot tree it gets really full!

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