After a day spent at OFII we are now in possession of our Titres de Sejours. If it had been a slightly less painful experience I'd even be ready to celebrate! We did walk ourselves home from Bastille like this American Mom in Paris. There are a few things to celebrate - my French is good enough that they waived the required French language course and also the all-day "Life in France" class, which had me laughing because it is intended to teach us things like how to find housing. There were 40 people in the room, what do they think we've been doing for the last 4 months, sleeping in the street?
There was a problem because, while I had Eric with me for the first check-in lady, Daddy was giving him food while I checked in with the second check-in lady so she did not mark "Prioritaire" next to my name. I was the last of the 40 people to check in. I waited all afternoon for my private interview and Eric got pretty fidgety (though of the three of us by the end of the day he won the prize for best-behaved). Finally one of the medical staff noticed that we were still waiting at 4:10pm and the office closes at 5pm. She raised hell to get me seen, which caused my caseworker to cry and tell me that it was all my fault, that she's never had a problem with that colleague before, etc. It was pretty bad.
But in the end all that time waiting worked out for us because Daddy had to go back to the Tabac several times to get all the stamps we needed. In the end we had to pay over $1000 in lick-and-stick stamps for these Titre de Sejour cards. Turns out the big Prefecture where everyone has to go is completely incompetent and, among the other problems, quoted us the rate for a Titre renewal, not a first application. It counts as a first application every time you let your previous Titre lapse, so even though Daddy had done this before, and gotten the chest x-ray before, if you let it lapse you have to start again from zero. One thing we're sure of, that's our last state-mandated chest x-ray! Daddy asked what they're looking for, it's TB, enormous lung cancers, and to confirm we have hearts. Seriously, that's what he said. Anyway, the lady at the register takes our $1000 in simple individual stamps, sticks them on an index card, runs her pen in squiggly lines all over them and gives us our cartes de sejours. These cartes are seriously like 1980s driver's licenses - low res black and white photograph, hand laminated, etc.
Now we get to start on the process for Eric! Yippee!
Friday, April 6, 2012
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Well, here you can see what $280 looks like in timbre fiscal. These are not-so-very-special stamps you can buy at the Tabac to pay for administrative services in France. Ours will pay for our French green cards, the Carte de Séjour.
Luckily the baby doesn't have to go through all this!
One funny thing - they're just ordinary lick-it and stick-it stamps, but even for $280 they don't give you those little glassine bags that the USPS gives people to keep the stamps from sticking to your hands as you race home. These things were flying all over the Tabac as I tried to gather them into a little makeshift pile. So if you're going to buy some, bring your own envelope!