Coming up with the name for today’s post was rather fun for a couple of reasons. The first was the choice of titles since it has to do with getting a visa. Since the French consulate in Miami accepts credit cards to pay the 99 euro fee, it could have been “Visa for Visa”. A takeoff on the expression “easy-peasy” since this whole process went very smoothly once we got to the consulate brought to mind “Visa(y)-peasy”. And of course the original French vis-à-vis that we’ve adopted into English meaning, among many things, “face to face”, would have certainly worked since we had to apply in person at their office that looks out onto Biscayne Bay. Instead I chose this one word that at first glance might not seem to have anything to do with today’s topic, but that’s the other reason why naming it was fun.
In today’s mail our visas arrived so now we can definitely go to France. There’s only one more official document that we need to get before we can leave, but it’s for Heather and all her veterinary work is already finished except for a rubber stamp from the USDA. We have to wait until no more than 10 days before we fly off to Paris for that formality. All of the boxes are checked.
We each had to have an individual appointment at the consulate even though we were using exactly the same original documents. I emailed the visa office in my most cordial, formal French to ask if we could approach the window together and back came the answer that we would be seen separately and then be told which documents we could use in common. OK, then, got that. Not really, so what we did was to assemble two packets, one for each of us with exactly the same originals and copies. You can see in a previous blog post called Ducks in a Row what was required. Naturally items like your passport or your marriage certificate are originals (although even the latter was a certified copy) but what about bank statements or tax forms that you simply print from a website? The instructions said that they wanted an original and a copy of all items requested so where necessary we printed an original and then printed a copy. It turns out that the person processing your application just needs to see the primary documents, which they hand back to you, and then attach copies that you provide to your file.
We arrived 15 minutes before our appointment at their 10th floor office, rang the bell, and were admitted by the guard to a waiting room where he had us sign in and then told us to follow him. We went down the hall where he unlocked a door and we went in to a small waiting room with 2 service windows. I was called up first, pushed all of my documents at once under the window, and stood there for a total of 12 minutes. Bill was next and after 7 minutes, including fingerprinting and photographs, we were out the door. When I first approached the window I asked the lady in French if she minded if we spoke English and she shrugged her shoulders, smiled, and started going through the papers. She looked carefully at each page, putting check marks beside income figures, health insurance amounts, and lease dates. Although we each had a prepaid USPS overnight express mail envelope, she asked if we wanted her to use just one of the envelopes, returning the second one to us.
For reference, we are both retired, receiving Social Security and pensions. For health insurance we used World Nomads with a zero deductible, $100,000 coverage, and includes repatriation to the US. We found a one-year lease through Airbnb.
To check the status of our applications I used this link https://pastel.diplomatie.gouv.fr/Vi….html?lcid=194 where that last number represents the consulate you used. I could not find a list of the consulate numbers, but trial and error shows that they are roughly in alphabetic order so Miami is 194 and Washington, DC is 313. The online tracking was up-to-date with the status changing yesterday afternoon from “processing” to “decision made” although it did not say what that decision was.
I realize that today’s post might have been less than interesting to many of you, but for readers preparing for the big move, I wanted to give you lots of details. Sunday’s post will be more fun, I promise.