I saw her place the green and white paper on top of my file. It was the paper used to print a recipisse (the temporary document one uses for identification while waiting to get a permanent identity card). Externally I remained stoic. Internally my jaw dropped and I wanted to shout out. That enormous dossier that I had handed over 15 minutes earlier had worked. Not only had I successfully jumped the track from the hamster-wheel of visitorhood to the track to an EU and French citizenship, but this had been the shortest prefecture visit since I moved to France in 2013. From start to finish it had been thirty minutes. I had felt supremely confident in my dossier – but this was France, after all. There could always be something objectionable.
Still dumbstruck, I silently handed over my photos. As the big printer hummed, she clipped out one of them, handed the rest back to me, then dutifully affixed it to my recipisse. She then gave it all the stamps and signatures it needed after I had verified all the information and signed it myself.
Today is eight days after I successfully changed to a Profession Liberale visa. As long as I earn a certain income over the next five years and pay the requisite taxes, I’ll be eligible to apply for French citizenship (note: that does not mean I’ll get it). I’m officially allowed to work in France, now. I had to go to URSSAF yesterday to do more paperwork, and I need to come back in 90 days to give the prefecture that paperwork, but that’s literally paper pushing, rather than the complex compilation of a dossier.
Could I have taken this path immediately in 2013 instead of taking the visitor route? Yes. Indeed, if there are any of you out there interested in taking this path, I can help consult you through this process as someone who has successfully completed it and has a winning template.
And yet, the answer for me is also No. I could not have taken this route myself, knowing as little as I did about France in 2013. I didn’t even know what I didn’t know, and my plans and ideas about my time in France were so inchoate when I landed here. Yes, eight days ago I took a bulletproof dossier to the Prefecture…but I knew it was bulletproof because of my last two visits there and what I had learned about the French and their expectations in the last three years.
It’s also been marvelous to hear from people I’ve met because of this blog – not just those who needed help regarding the visitor visa but those who have started to meet with me to strategize about what I’ve just successfully done: a transition to the citizenship route. A few of their testimonials are here.
Thanks for continuing this journey with me. Last Thursday was the end of the beginning.
The image is the flag of the Bourbon Restoration. It’s as good a time as any to admit that I’m an unabashed royalist.