October 31, 2015
That is how long I can, as of today, legally stay in France without making another visit to the prefecture ! YAY !
Sometime last week I realized that I should probably verify the date of expiration of my current récépissé de demande de carte de séjour. If you’ve done this before you know that as soon as they give you that nifty piece of paper with a terrifying photo of yourself on it you have 3 months before it expires and there are two options at that point – 1) go through that again to get another 3 months extension or 2) you actually receive your convocation (paper that says your card is ready) and you gotta go get it. Option 2 also includes paying, so there’s that. I waited and waited because for one thing, I also knew I would have to change my address and I thought it would be smart to do it at the same time but obviously, my readers, a few things have needing sorting out in order to have my official address.
But, I got my first official quittance de loyer last night for paying January and February rent (a rent receipt) and took that and my rental contract with me today, hoping it would be enough for them to change me address right then and there…
I arrived at the prefecture in Marseille around 915am. It opens at 815am but realize, if you have your convocation already, there is no need to show up at or before it opens, unless you want to. When I picked up my first card I arrived at 1115am and was out of there in about 15 mins. I waited in line for a while with my trusty kindle-sidekick and inched up in line every few minutes. After 15 mins a lady asked who had convocations (letters that say come and get your card), about 6 of us raised our hands. She hands us slips with numbers and tells us to go upstairs. Apparently I wasn’t fast enough, my number was called as I was walking up the stairs. haha. So a chick went in front of me, no worries, this process was quick!
I was at the window with all of my documents necessary: old card, récépissé, convocation, 200 euros in timbres fiscaux, passport and the lady did her thing. She took my fingerprints on one of those cool green machine things and hands me my card. I then say, “et si je voudrais changer mon adresse…?” (and if I’d like to change my address…?). She asks if I have the documents necessary, I say I hope so…I brought my quittance de loyer and my rental contract (these were basically forms filled by myself and my landlord and although everything online tells me that handwritten rental receipts aren’t accepted, she seemed okay with it). She took my documents, took BACK my card (I was sad to let go so soon) and my number slip and said to wait for a few minutes. I was worried. I didn’t know what they would do or how long it would take so I got out my kindle again, but TOO soon. My name was called after 3 mins and I went to a different window. She hands me my carte de séjour and my rental contract and receipt and another paper that is basically the proof that the prefecture has the info they need to know where I live (Attestation de changement d’adresse). It’s a simple piece of paper with a stamp and signature. So I am 100% legal. France knows where I live and I do not have to go back to the prefecture for a long time !
Though I will say, they were so nice today I don’t know why anyone complains 😉 KIDDING!
I noticed specifically today that speaking French for me is like playing an instrument, or singing, or sports — you gotta warm up before you’ll ever be any good. Once I get the French part of my brain workin’ words start to pour out and it’s good. If I think too much about a conjugation, the use of Vous vs. Tu, phonetics … I get super hung up. It’s like a brick wall and I run straight into it. If I just speak slowly and THINK in French, I’m good. But yeah. I realized today I need to warm up speaking French before I can make any sort of sense. Or drink a half bottle of wine. Either way 🙂
So again, congrats to me and thanks to France for making the process relatively painless this time.
Until next time —