Thursday, April 17, 2014

It's that time of year again...titre de séjour renewal

I had my rendez-vous at the Préfecture de Bordeaux today to renew my titre de séjour.  I received a convocation in the mail about two weeks ago asking me to come on April 17 and to appear at guichet 11 at 11:20.  I had to bring originals of all my documents and my husband.

Never having renewed in Bordeaux before I really didn't know what to expect or how long the entire process would take.  I was also quite nervous because I was expecting to have to do battle over the contrat d'accueil et d'intégration that I never signed (I even printed out copies of French law to show them I had every right to be exempted from signing the contract from the beginning).  So imagine my surprise when I arrived at the guichet and saw my dossier already sitting on the counter, open and ready to go, and a few minutes later a woman showed up at the window to process my renewal request.  I was even further shocked when there was no fight over my non-signature du contrat and she just looked at my certificat de scolarité from the university in Tours and accepted the fact that I should have been exempted.

As if the lack of a fight wasn't enough of a préfecture miracle, she then further expressed her surprise that I have lived in France before, have been married for over 5 years and still only have a carte de séjour temporaire.  We explained our situation and then, after a bit of an issue with my ID photos that just seemed to have disappeared from the counter, she stated that everything appeared to be in order and didn't even make me come back with more photos

And then, shocker of all shockers, as she handed me my récépissé she said she was just going to have them issue me a 10-year card even though I was only requesting a renewal of my temporary card and hadn't even followed the procedure or produced all the papers necessary to apply for a 10-year card.  She then explained that my card should be ready in about month and that I would receive a letter letting me know when I could come in and pick it up.  And that was it.  I was done.  In only 20 minutes.  20 minutes!!!  I couldn't believe it!  Even Lionel was floored.  Much better than the 4-5 hours with rendez-vous in the Val de Marne.

I was originally planning to only apply to renew my temporary card because I am hoping that my request for citizenship will be granted and that this time next year I won't need a titre de séjour anymore (perhaps wishful thinking).  Since the renewal is cheaper than the 10-year card I thought I would take the risk and save some money (as well as administrative headache) and then if my citizenship request was rejected I could always apply for the 10-year card next year.  But, since she was offering to push my file through without me having to provide additional documents or do anything extra I figured I would just take advantage of my good luck and go for it.  Just in case.  Because you never know.  Though, it makes me wonder if they are desperate for extra cash or something.

So, in about a month I should be the proud owner of a brand new, shiny 10-year card!  And I just had the most pleasant and enjoyable préfecture visit of my life.  Only 20 minutes total from the time we walked in the door, a nice, helpful and understanding fonctionnaire going out of her way to make my life easier and absolutely no fight whatsoever.  I'm still pinching myself, convinced it must be a dream!  I think I might be in love with the Préfecture de Bordeaux (ok, I wouldn't go that far, but definitely a much more organized and more pleasant experience than my sous-préfecture in the Val de Marne).  Here's hoping my request for citizenship goes just as smoothly!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ma tête is spinning

Since our return from Paris life has been really busy and it seems like the days are just flying by.  I finally managed to submit my file for my request for citizenship and what a headache the whole process turned out to be!  I've been extremely stressed waiting to hear back from the préfecture about that as well as for my carte de séjour renewal.  I also made a very stressful and valiant attempt at doing our US taxes but finally gave up in despair (would have been a lot easier if we were allowed to use any of the EZ forms in our situation) and sent them to an accountant. Now I'm stressed because I still haven't heard back and the filing deadline is fast approaching.

Besides being overwhelmingly stressed about all this paperwork and the lack of news pertaining to any of it, work has also been crazy for the past few months and it isn't showing any signs of letting up.  I'm feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted from it all and I can tell I desperately need a vacation before I break.  Alas, for numerous reasons, there is no vacation in sight.

And if that isn't enough to wear a girl out, I've also been stressed about the work on our house and just how much still needs to get done.  Then my in-laws called on Wednesday to tell us they were arriving on Friday to attack the bathroom renovations.  Normally I would be thrilled about the possibility of finally doing the bathroom because I've been dying for a more modern, less disgusting and more functional bathroom. But that was really short notice!  Since we got their call I've been doing research and investigating different options like crazy, to the point where I've even been dreaming about bathrooms, showers, bathtubs, toilets and sinks.  Today we started tearing out the bathroom which means I am without sink and shower for the next...I don't know how long but I hope not more than a week!  

what was once our shower

As per usual, these renovations are starting in complete chaos and I fully expect it to continue this way.  Not surprising when you literally have no time to plan or shop in advance!  Certainly doesn't make for a very relaxing weekend though and I was desperately in need of one!