Visa Fun

It’s that time again—time to get a French visa! 

And so last week, I made the trip to San Francisco for my appointment at the French consulate. I needed to turn in all the document for my visa application so I can be in Paris for six months starting at the very end of June.

 

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Saying hello to the sea lions in San Francisco.

 

There’s a consular agency in Seattle, but they don’t issue visas (and if you call them, the recording makes that clear in no uncertain terms). In fact, the consulate in San Francisco serves not only northern California, but nine other states and the Pacific Islands as well. Since I’d spent a year in France from 2015-2016, I knew the drill, but that doesn’t mean the paperwork has gotten any easier.

As usual, before they will grant you a visitor visa, you have to show them that you’ve got your travel plans and lodging figured out, that you have the funds to support yourself, give them a signed letter stating that you won’t deprive a French person of a job, and show that you’ll have medical coverage while you’re there.

That last bit was a sticking point this time. The nice representative I met with wanted more specific documentation that my coverage would actually work in France and met their minimum requirements. After all, they don’t want me to be a drain on their health care system. I was able to get ahold of some more specific evidence of benefit and get it emailed to the representative that same day, but it still wasn’t enough. So my ever-resourceful wife managed to work it out with our insurer to send us a letter that specifically mentioned my coverage in France and everything else the consulate wanted. It took a couple of days, but I got it emailed in to that nice representative I’d been working with by the end of the week…

And promptly got her out-of-office reply stating she’d be on vacation for a week! Of course. (So very French.)

Her reply included another, general email address for the consulate, so I forwarded the insurance letter on to that address…

And received a quintessentially French response, including such helpful info like:

DO I HAVE TO COME IN PERSON TO APPLY FOR MY VISA?
Yes, all applicants from our jurisdiction over 12 years old MUST appear in person… Sorry, NO EXCEPTION.

DO YOU HAVE AN EXPEDITE PROCESS?
No, French consulates DO NOT have any expedite process. 

During peak seasons, WE WILL NOT REPLY TO EMAILS REGARDING APPOINTMENT SCHEDULING.

CAN I CALL YOU?
No, the visa department can’t take any phone calls.

CAN YOU SEND ME AN APPLICATION FORM AND THE LIST OF DCOUMENTS (sic) REQUIRED?
Everything you need is available online. All the application forms, the explanations and the list of documents required are clearly listed.

Yes, it’s always a good time at the consulate. Well, today, a week after my appointment and five days after getting the last document to them, they emailed to say my visa would be issued today or tomorrow.

After all those NO’s, it’s good to get a YES!

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4 thoughts on “Visa Fun

    • All things considered, things have gone pretty smoothly. I know people who’ve experienced visa horror stories (and not just with France). The in-person part went surprisingly well. It’s navigating the online application and determining what kind of documents they want and how to get them–like making sure you have the right thing from your insurer, figuring out how to get a copy of your criminal record (or lack thereof)–that’s more challenging.

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