Dijon France Tour Guide by Lisa Hovis
France's flag above the PréfectureMy favorite Dijon café:  Café de la PréfectureSunflowers at my favorite Dijon floristOld steps at ChataeuneufPastries from my favorite Dijon patissierBurgundy LandscapeThe chouette on Dijon's Notre DameVive l'Orangina!Flowers at the Dijon MarchéLe Jacquemart at Notre Dame, Dijon France
See Dijon, France, through the eyes of an American woman who had the privilege to call it 'Home'

Carte de Sejour

Ah yes. The temporary residence permit. Oh what...painful memories I have. But we must go on. It starts with applying for a Visa, which is a story to itself. But let's say you've done that because you're staying in France longer than six months(for visits under three months you don't need a Visa; for visits up to six months you apply for a Visa de Court Sejour, a Visa that doesn't require you apply for a carte de sejour). You received your Visa de long sejour after spending alot of money and time making heaps of copies and taking days off from work to stand in line at the Embassy, and after several months, your passport receives what its been waiting for: THE VISA. Oh, yours didn't come in before your flight? Well, you have other issues then, and I can't help you. But let's say you are one of the lucky ones, and you have THE VISA. You think that's all you need, you start to relax, but you forgot to read the letter in French (or you couldn't read French and thought "oh heck, it can't be THAT important") that came with your long-term Visa: you need to visit your local Prefecture on arrival to get your carte de sejour. Here is what I learned:

Stay home! However, if you insist on continuing your journey, I will start by telling you the most important thing. PATIENCE. It is vital you get the notion out of your head that things should be done efficiently or quickly or anything else that makes you feel like someone knows what is going on. So, relax, and just go to your Prefecture armed with copies of EVERYTHING you needed to get your Visa, including marriage license, proof of insurance, notarized bank statements, birth certificates, and the ever-important head-shots. In fact, as soon as you arrive in France and see a photo booth, sit down, put some francs in, and smile. You'll need them. And don't forget the originals! And, remember, this is FRANCE. Even the children and animals speak FRENCH. Don't assume you'll have an English-speaking advisor. Learn some French, then learn some more. It's the proper thing to do. OK, you have everything together? Find your Prefecture!

After waiting in the office for an unspecified time, usually between five and ten weeks depending on the speed of your particular advisor, your turn will surface. You'll give the advisor what he asks to see, and most likely you won't have something he wants and you didn't know you even needed, like an empty box of your favorite cereal. BUT don't panic, you can make an appointment to come back after you spend days on the phone calling the US trying to find what the advisor wants. And if it DOESN'T MAKE SENSE to you, don't worry. Just remember: PATIENCE. No one is going to come looking for you in the middle of the night if you don't get your card right away. In fact, it took me several months. But I'm SURE I am an EXCEPTION. I'm sure it usually takes longer.

Remember that before you receive your carte de sejour, you must have a physical. You'll receive, by mail, the information you need to make an appointment with an Immigrations-approved physician. For between 300 and 1100 francs(depending on your status) you get a "physical" which is essentially "stick out your tongue, get on the scale, can you put your arms out to the side without falling down", and are sent to the xray place to make sure you aren't harboring strange infections in your chest. After everything comes back OK, the prefecture will send you a note saying your carte is ready and you can come get it. Bring your passport and the advisor (after waiting in line again...) will put the carte in your visa and you both will sign it. Ta Da! Fini!


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