A few weeks ago I posted an entry on the Compétences et Talents visa issued by the French Government . The interesting part is that after you’ve taken care in preparing an outstanding project and presenting it to the French Consulate in the states, you need to do the same thing over here in France. But the trick is, you have to reprint everything all over again. My friend Erin had mentioned it was necessary to have the original project on hand in order to complete the process over here. So when I was in the states I had asked the Consulate if I could have my original project description back (Erin was given hers back). However, the French Consulate said “absolument pas.” According to them, the whole point of going through the rigorous visa process is to facilitate the applicant’s integration in French society once they’ve arrived on French soil. So all I needed was the letter from the Consulate General, my passport, passport pictures and proof of residence. And then within a few weeks I’d get my carte de séjour.
They were a little wrong.
I don’t blame the French fonctionnaires for knowing so little about what is necessary to get the visa; this process is all new for them too (in fact, I’m the second person in Boston to be accepted and the first person in Savoie to ever apply for this visa. So both entities seemed a little perplexed on how everything actually worked). In the end, it depends on which Département you eventually live in, but wherever you end up, you need to go to the local Préfecture with the following documents:
- The letter from the consulate general that issued the visa in your passport.
- 4 official pictures.
- Original birth certificate and photocopies.
- The official Titre de Séjour application.
- The medical examination application
- A copy of the original application project, all pages, materials and photocopies of them.
- Proof of residence.
Of course this list may change depending on the Département, but as a general list this is what is needed. What’s surprising is that although the visa was meant to make things faster and easier, it takes just as long as anything else. When I dropped off all the documents on the 10th of January, the woman behind the glass said it would take a good month/month-and-a-half to get any kind of carte de séjour out to me. Wow. Good thing I got it in the system when I did.
For those who are interested in pursuing a career/life in France, the Pres. Sarkosy has recently instated (2008) a new visa aimed at streamlining foreign entrepreneurs who wish to work in France. Since there is very little on the subject except for a well detailed French Embassy site in Washington DC, I thought it would be helpful to include here all of the necessary paperwork needed in the French US-based consulates. Keep in mind that the criteria is tough, since the French are looking for serious business – they will not accept any application that seems weakly prepared. The list should include the following items:
a) Visa Application for long séjour: 2 copies
b) Multi-page project description: if you write it in French its better. They only ask for 1 page, but you’d be smart to write several detailed pages (mine was 7). Include the following:
– How project will benefit France and include where in the project there is a strong component of multicultural sharing.
– Goals of Project: What is it specifically you intend to do? What are the benefits for everyone involved?
– Business Plan: if you’re an independent contractor, its good to have a translated business plan.
– Estimated Income: very ball-park, but put in how much you are expecting to earn over the first three years.
c) Birth Certificate (original, photocopies and translation)
d) CV (in French)
e) Diplomas: for this visa you need an M.A. I’m sure they will make some exceptions, but I haven’t heard of any yet. If you don’t have an M.A., they will probably not consider you for the visa.
f) Tax returns for any given tax year as well as any bank and investment info (they want to see you have cash).
g) Customer Testimonials and references: if you’re in sales, give a list of customer references as well as professional references.
h) Articles: if there are any write-ups about you in any newspaper, magazine doing what you do then add it along.
i) Any sample work that can be incorporated is a great help as well (i.e.: if you’re in design add some of your portfolio).
j) Criminal Record Check – this is fundamental
k) 4 official pictures
l) approx: 150$ application fee
A big thanks to Erin who went through the whole grueling process before me, so that I was able to fly my application by without any trouble. My application was for an entrepreneurial endeavor – there are also possibilities for people who are employed with French companies to apply for the same visa, but a few more documents need to be put into the application (such as the cerfa document, etc.).
I put all of these documents in order of importance (project description and business plan first, birth certificate second, etc.) into a three-ring binder which had tabs along the side, so the consulate could easily find whichever document it was looking for. Then of course the outside of the binder was labeled as well with my name, the date, my passport number and the type of visa I was applying for.
Seems like too much? Maybe, but at my consulate I was told that I was the second person to get the visa. Plus, the organization of the paperwork (and maybe giving all the documents necessary) prevented me from having to go back to the Consulate every week to bring them one more piece of paper. I got the visa in 1 month so I must have done something right.