How To Apply For A Visa or, Proof That The French Don’t Want Us Living In Their Country

Two entries within just a couple days, woo-hoo! I’m on a roll.
So, in order to live and go to school in Paris for four months, I needed to apply for a “Temporary Long-Stay Visa.” There was a detailed list of required documentation on the French Consulate of New York’s website: I was to bring this paperwork to them at 11:00am on December 28th, and I was to bring no one else with me. Applicants are admitted into the Consulate on the half hour and I was to be there at 11:00 exactly, no exceptions! Although these instructions felt vaguely like I was walking into a hostage negotiation, I figured what the heck? They have strict security measures. I can understand that.
I arrived about an hour early, which is obviously no good, and searched in vain for a Starbucks to hide out in while I waited. Side bar: I walked 20 blocks and not a coffee shop in sight! If I can’t find a Starbucks in a 10 block radius on Manhattan, then corporate America is not doing its job. But I digress. I wandered around in the blistering cold until the magical 11:00 hour, at which time I showed the security guard my passport and was directed to a small waiting room upstairs. The windows had bars on them; I did not inquire about the reason for this.
I waited patiently with the number 23 in my hand, listening intently for my number to be called over the loudspeaker. I made sure I had all of my paperwork in order, smugly going over my checklist one more time, confirming that I was every bit as organized as I had thought I was. Soon enough (or, roughly an hour later), “23!” rang loud and clear, beckoning me to Window One.
The lovely lady behind Window One immediately started speaking French to me, fast and furious. I’m not terrible at French, but I am still learning so I was a little slow on the uptake. Sensing this, she impatiently switched to English, which was scarcely better.
“Passport! Application! Copy of bank statement! Copy of school ID! Vite, Madame! Hurry up!”
As a fumbled to get my papers together, she repeatedly barked at me to hurry up, which did not help the situation. All of my waiting room smugness disappeared in the face of this irate French woman. I handed her a copy of my bank statement that I had had printed by my bank teller the previous day.
“A copy, Madame! I need a copy!”
“But it’s an original, you can just hav- ”
“A COPY! Go downstairs and pay to make a copy! And be quick about it because I’ll be waiting!”
Sweet Jesus. Adrenaline pumping, I rushed downstairs only to realize I didn’t have any damn coins with which to make a copy. Luckily the kind security guard, who I’m assuming is pretty familiar with the frantic victims of the Window One Lady, gave me a couple quarters. I would have fallen to my knees in thanks, but I was scared to take any longer making the copies.
I finished up, dashed back upstairs in record time (though not quickly enough to avoid another comment about my lack of preparedness) and finished the rest of the process fairly smoothly. Until I was told to come back the following week, between 9 and 10 in the morning, to have my visa put into my passport. At that point, however, I was happy just to get out of there.
Countdown: 10 days

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One Response to How To Apply For A Visa or, Proof That The French Don’t Want Us Living In Their Country

  1. Diane Johnson says:

    Love it so far … Can’t wait ’til you’re actually in Paris!
    Auntie Di

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