Over the past 9 months you may have read my posts about switching from a student to a spouse visa. My husband took charge of getting this and I have to commend him for all the work he did. It was truly a frustrating ordeal and a wonderful introduction for me to the French administration.
After 5 months of constant phone calls and appointments, we gave up on my application in France. The prefecture and Caen said that I would most likely get a denied letter within 2 months since I was applying while in France instead of my home country. No one cared to tell us about this before, even though my husband called them frequently about my situation.
The law changed recently so I could apply in France but they were not aware of it. If I want to contest it, I would have to wait 6 months for a court appointment (after waiting 2 months to get the letter). Of course, in the meantime I would be stripped of my health care and other benefits.
In November we were going to Florida anyways to introduce my family to Juliana, so we decided to take an appointment with the French Embassy in Miami. I received my visa within a week and was told that I will have to do a health checkup and attend a welcome appointment at OFCII.
Unbelievable! After 5 months of calling different offices, receiving different answers, filling out paperwork, and getting absolutely no where – I get my Visa within a week after a 15 minute appointment. I received the OFCII appointment date at the end of January for the beginning of February. We had to change the date and location because we would be living in the south of France at this time. We later received our new appointment date for March 7 in Dinge-les-Bains.
The health appointment was quick and easy. I was told to arrive between 9 and 10am, so we arrived at 9:30am. They did an x-ray of my chest and we waited to see a doctor. He inspected my x-rays, took my blood pressure, and listened to my chest. He filled out some paperwork and that was it. I was done with the health checkup by 11am. The welcoming meeting at OFCII was not until 2pm. We found a place to eat, I nursed Juliana, and then went to McDonalds so my husband could get online to work.
We could not find the building. The GPS could not find the address and the letter I received had the building’s old name. The staff was really sweet and I snuck in during the last 2 minutes of the meeting. Even though we were the last ones there, we were the first ones to see someone. I think it was because we had a baby with us. I felt bad for the others because some of them ended up waiting the entire day.
The woman we met with was very nice. She waived the requirement for me to take French courses. Even though they are free and I would like to attend, the closest place is Manosque. It is about 30 minutes away on a winding and dangerous road around the mountains. Seeing that I am not very comfortable driving a manual car, I would have been fearful for my life on the way to and from each class. We are in the process of searching for an automatic car, so maybe in the future I may go if my French does not improve soon.
We told her how we switched to speaking French daily and I am talking in French with people in the village – which is absolutely true. She said that if I want to be a citizen, that I need to be at a B2 level. I have a couple French books for B1 and B2 levels, so I will make sure to get up to this level in case I want to go that route. There is a two day course I must take to learn about the French administration, culture and history. Since I am breastfeeding, they are letting me delay taking this course until July or August when it will be easier.
My husband paid online and we were told that they had to verify the payment in the Caen prefecture before approving me. The Caen prefecture is understaffed and the person who normally verifies was doing a different job that day and told them she could do it the next day. This means we would have to drive to Marseille because the person from OFCII only comes to Digne-les-Bains once a week.
The woman from OFCII was very helpful and spent about 2 hours on the phone with different offices and called her supervisor. As a last resort, she called an office in Paris. Their computers were down. At least she tried. We have to return tomorrow to finalize the paperwork so I can officially be here for one year.
Ater 9 months of trying, I will finally have my Visa!
This visa must be renewed two months before its expiration date. I applied from Miami in November 2011, so I will have to reapply in September! So I will have 6 months free of administration. I hope the next time around goes much smoother.
My Experience Switching to a Spouse Visa…