I Got The Visa!!!!

I am following that title with, OF COURSE I DID!

Yes I had my doubts. Due to a many number of reasons I believed I would receive my visa on the same day as my appointment with the consulate in Toronto, which was Wednesday by the way. In my personal situation, this did not happen.

I arrived 10 minutes early as requested by the email sent out after I had booked the appointment on-line, confirming the appointment. I had to bring that piece of paper with me to show the security guard at the door. When I entered, I realized I was the only person there, along with the one consulate staff behind a counter (with a glass screen between us). I guess it makes sense to up the security at a consulate office.

Anyway, I didn’t wait a second, I was told just to go straight up to the counter. This was to be my appointment. Not in some big office sitting in front of a desk, as I had imagined, but in a much more procedural manner as if I was buying my ticket at the GO station.

She quickly scanned through the file folder with eons of documents and information within it, after I slipped it in a drawer that send it over to her side of the glass. This woman was nice. She was very, very professional but nice. I couldn’t get a smile out of her but that was ok because I myself was extremely nervous and the smiling wasn’t happening on my end too much either.

She looked at all the documentation then asked me, “When are you planning this trip for?” The tone she used sounded like something was wrong. Oh no! Did I do something wrong? Yes, I did! I had planned the trip to be two weeks shy of a year (50 weeks) instead of the whole 52 weeks or 365 days (side note that for some reason the insurance told me that a year had 366 days, maybe a leap year coming up?) What? I had not realized that I had to make the trip for exactly one year. She asked me if I wanted to change this and request the visa for the full year. Of course I said yes. She than took my picture, my fingerprints, and sent me home with a piece of paper. This paper told me to change the travel health insurance and the OHIP coverage. I did these two things the same day. It was so convenient that I was able to email these documents to them the same night. The paper also said it would take 10 days to process the visa and find out whether or not I was approved.

If there was anything I wanted, it was to obtain this visa before my boyfriend went back to Europe (he arrived there today) but I kept my hopes up anyway and new that waiting ten days was a treat compared to how long he was left waiting for his work permit that never ended up coming.

The next day they told me to come pick up my passport (which I left with them) or send someone else to pick it up with a letter of authorization from moi. I sent my boyfriend with $20 for transportation because I was working.

In the morning the consulate called to remind me to pick up the passport. I thanked the lady two or three times and as my usual enthusiastic self, I told her I would send someone.My boyfriend left to go to the consulate in the morning and later in the afternoon my boyfriend arrived at my work and said to me, -I have three good news for you. One is that I saved you money by walking instead of taking the subway, the second is that I have your passport, and the third is that I have your visa!

I was really expecting to have to wait ten days so when he told me this my heart almost stopped I was so excited! I proceeded to jump and yell all over the place. And now, I officially have my visa. And I got it before my awesome FBF went home! (I miss him)

So after this situation the most important thing I would like to bring up, stress and reiterate is that it is one person choosing whether or not your visa is approved or not. It is also your choice as to how you behave with that one person. Even when I went for the first time, and didn`t get a smile out of the lady and was told news that I didn`t want to hear, I was still friendly, polite and professional. I continued with that attitude on the phone and by email and by the end of it all I could hear the woman`s smile on our last phone call and now I will be going to live and work in France!

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Filling out the long term visa application for France

The title of this post spells out exactly what I will write about today.

As you may know, one of the very first steps I took towards moving to France was researching the types of visas and choosing one. After I chose the youth working holiday visa (2E) I logically printed out the online package (as linked on the right of this blog).

What I am trying to say is that I have had this visa package full of instructions, guidelines and the application forms themselves  for nearly 5 months. I could have filled out the forms months ago but instead I decided to save all the money needed, write my cover letter en francais, get the insurance, the photos, the photocopies, all-in-all, EVERYTHING completed. Yet, until a couple of days ago, these form lay unattended. I had peaked at them 10 or maybe 20 times over these 5 months but never dared touched them.

Why? You may ask. This seems like I pretty basic thing to do. Well, not when you are me! When this has been your dream for 10 plus years! When any mistake on those two pages can hinder your ability to obtain that visa! Ok, breather. I guess it is not that big of a deal. But when I looked at those forms all I could see were the side panels which read “for administration use only” and underneath this column lays two boxes (one to be checked off by the administration) reading “granted” and “not granted”. They will literally choose whether or not to give me the visa, right before my eyes, on that very application form. I better freaking fill it out correctly! On top of the pressure to fill these babies out perfectly, they come with a little glitch: The page attached explaining what goes into each box is wrong. The explanations do not match the boxes on the form so therefore I filled them out how I thought I should and had to disregard the instructions. French consulate, please review that page and fix it!

Finally, on Sunday, I built up enough courage to once and for all tackle these forms. I was as honest as I could have been, was very straight forward in all the boxes and I also have a verbal explanation ready for the boxes I filled out that may be ambiguous to someone trying to figure out what my plans are exactly.

Thankfully I have my boyfriend’s parents in France who are serving as my “home-stay” family just in case anything goes wrong while I am there. I added them into my application and their address as the place I will stay, even though I also wrote I will immediately look for a place in Lille. I am sure this could seem a little confusing to the consulate. “She says she will live in Lille when she arrives but she also says she will stay in Reims.” I tried my best to make the situation very clear to them. But anyway, I am ready with responses to any of their questions.

That box will be checked “granted” I am sure!

A French in Canada

Soon I will be a Canadian in France. I will have to face the challenges of speaking the language and getting a job, supporting myself, and integrating into a new culture. I will be making new friends, finding my new fav places to shop and eat and starting with only two suitcases of my stuff.

My boyfriend, being a French in Canad, shows me how some of these challenges may play out when I am in France. As he, himself, has had to go through this process when he stepped off the plane (his English was already pretty fluent though!).

He needs to obtain a internship work permit here in Canada.  He already has a job offer and yet has to wait up to 44 days for the permit to be approved! How stressful this is to wait to work for a job that has already been offered!

My lesson learned, expect to wait in France and be financially and mentally prepared for this. I will also apply as early as possible.

Liability Insurance

Ok, so I have hit another obstacle. I do not own a car or a house and therefore I do not have an insurance broker. What does this mean? I am finding it extremely difficult to find liability insurance.

Here is the liability insurance journey so far:

  • I researched where to find this type of insurance and found out that one could obtain it from the same insurance broker that you have with a car or home
  • As I do not have a car or house, I decided to ask around
  • I had a lead: Tenant’s insurance with liability. I had heard that this would probably be my only option
  • I called up a well recommended insurance company and told them the situation. They told me it would probably be no problem and to call them back when I was ready to obtain it.
  • With my appointment one month away, I decided to get this insurance set up. I called the insurance company. The gentleman asked me to give him a week to do some research and he would get back to me.
  • A week and a half went by and I heard nothing, so I called him and had to leave a message.
  • I received a message in my inbox saying that he could not provide me this insurance and as far as his research went (which sounded pretty far), no one else was willing to provide me with this insurance either.

And now here I am…

The application gives you the option of signing an affidavit stating that I will obtain liability insurance upon arrival in France. The insurance broker did recommend I do this. My only worry about this is that I would have absolutely no idea how or where to get the insurance in France. What if I ran into the same problem that I have run into here? I will email the consulate asap and tell you how it goes. Even thinking about this gets my tummy flipping a little with nervousness.

The other option is to get my aunt to call her insurance company and add me into her plan with liability (I live with my aunt). I will do this asap as well.

I hope I will shortly have this problem sorted out.

If you know anything about this topic, or have been through the same situation, please let me know!

Thanks!

I Dream Of Consulate Appointments

I would love to have the “I dream of Jeannie” theme song for you to begin this post, but I am yet to be that computer savvy (I am sure it will come with time). Here is the written version: Do do, do do-do do do, do do, do-do do do do, do do, do-do do do do, DO! I am sure that will be difficult to understand if you have never seen that TV show!

Last night I dreamt of my appointment at the consulate. I remember the dream very clearly as it was the last dream I had before I woke up. Here is what happened: I am called to the desk by an older gentleman. I walk up to the desk, dressed casually with my folder in hand with all the documents. I remember having a gut feeling that I was not prepared enough and would not be granted the visa (of course my worse fears would be played out in the dream). The man begins to speak to me IN FRENCH! And I speak back in French, a very slow, broken French. I remember speaking, and saying things that made sense but at this point, I have no clue what was actually said. He decides to switch my case over to a younger woman. She spoke in English. She was going through the documents and I realized that I had forgotten to provide the necessary photocopies and I had not typed up the documents. The letter, for example, was hand written, in pencil, on lined paper (worst case scenario!!). I realized what I had done wrong and decided, on a whim, to ask her straight up, “So, can I have the visa?” She of course said that they would not provide the visa. Well, me being myself, decided to tell her that even though they would not grant it today, I had booked another appointment a couple of days later. I remember trying to reach the humanity in this lady and said, “Please, as a friend, since I will be back anyway, tell me what I can do to obtain the visa in a couple of days.” She looked at me, pitifully, and sighed. Then, she proceeded to tell me that I needed to type out my documents, provide the necessary photocopies (obviously!), dress professionally and use Aveda skin lotion on my face.

You heard me right! I needed to use Aveda skin lotion on my face! How this would help me obtain the visa, only my subconscious mind will know.

Even though this is a dream, it really brought me some insight. I need to take this seriously. My broken French cannot save me if I am not fully prepared. And because of this dream, I will dress professionally for my appointment!

I am now also seriously debating buying some Aveda skin lotion for good luck!

I woke up right after the dream. Mon homme lay beside me sound asleep, but not for long. I tapped him, calling his name, “Max! Max! Max!” He answered with a muffled yes. “Today, can we go over the letter to the consulate again?” he answered with another muffled yes and we both fell back asleep.

And with that I leave you with this: If you want this visa, use Aveda!

Thanks for reading!

The Plane Ticket

I am finally writing again after a very long (busy) break.

The bridal shower that I have been going on about is coming up in just a few short days and I am procrastinating everything until the last possible second. Downfall: The longer I procrastinate the more time I spend worrying about the shower, so I end up wasting time just thinking! Tomorrow, I have a day off of work, so I will powerhouse through the shower “to-do” list.

Also, I BOUGHT MY PLANE TICKET!!!! YAY!!! I think that is so awesome. I will give you the details in a second, but first let me rejoice!

I am so excited! Another huge step (and deficit in my bank account) and I am that much closer to being in France. I will arrive in France on the 16th of this coming September at 8:30 am! Wooooohooooo! The ticket even tells me the type of airplane I will be flying in, a 77W (the ones with a trillion seats)(ignore the exaggeration). I looked this aircraft up on Wikipedia to see how safe it would be. I know, I know, that may seem ridiculous. This is all necessary in getting over the fear, I need to know what I am getting myself into, prep myself, face it square in the face. But later posts in this topic. There were a few incidents with the craft but since the time of these incidents, corrections and improvements have been made. Good to know!

The Price

Total cost of plane ticket: $1389.92. Way more than I expected. (This is from Toronto-Paris with a stay of longer than 6 months). Just a note: The embassy will ask you for the plane ticket OR $1000 (from the Toronto region) or $1500 (from the Vancouver region). This is clearly NOT accurate! My plane ticket was $400 more than I had expected based on their estimation and I am booking way ahead of time. Generally, plane tickets get more expensive the closer you get to the date (unless you fly last-minute which may not be the brightest idea in obtaining a visa).

On being prepared for the consulate appointment

Based on what I have heard, and read, and researched, when you book your appointment with the consulate, you must be completely prepared. I would rather go to the consulate with a plane ticket in hand rather than the proof of the funds. I want to show them that I am ready and I do not want to take the risk of being rejected.

Buying a ticket for a date over a year in the future

Just a note when wanting to travel for the year: The consulate asks you for a return flight ticket. Air Canada and I am assuming many other airlines, do not have the schedules for the year ahead. So how does one book a return flight ticket? This was my initial excuse when wanting to provide the proof of funds rather than the actual ticket to the consulate. Well, call the airline, tell them your plan. Air Canada does not even give out open return date tickets so I let them know that I wanted a ticket but I needed to return on August 30, 2012. The rep on the phone booked me for the last possible date she could book me and wrote a note on the ticket to say my actual return date is Aug 30, 2012 and that when flights become available for that date, I can change it, free of charge! There, a great solution!

I printed the ticket out and had them send it to me by mail!

Plane ticket…Check!

Just a note on the supplementary travel health insurance

Five minutes after I purchased the plane ticket, I called Blue Cross and asked them for some travel health insurance for the year. You must call them if your travels are for a long period of time, and you must let them know that you have an extension with the provincial health insurance (which I received a month ago).

Cost of the supplementary health insurance: $701.

What an expensive day. Oh, but I am so excited!

2E (working holiday) Visa Update…

I am almost completely prepared for my appointment with the consulate in Toronto. (Note: To access the consulates website, just click the link on the right side of the site). Of course I still have some major uncertainties though.

I am a very lucky person so I cannot imagine anything going wrong but as someone told me once, luck is simply when preparedness meets timing. There are certainly factors that I cannot control. I cannot control who I have the appointment with or the mood that person is in, and I cannot control how many 2E Visas they have already given out or are still willing to give out. So, besides these two factors, I will dot my I’s and cross my T’s, over and over and over and over and over again…you know, just to make sure. I will leave my house super early so as not to be late, I will bring extra documents and their photocopies just in case, I will learn French sentences that may be useful for the appointment.

So with that said here is the complete update on the documents and requirements:

  • I have enough money. I am continuing to save though because I am assuming that the more money I have saved, the more likely it is that they will approve me. Just because I have the minimum requirement does not mean that my work in this department is done. I will go to the bank just a few days before my appointment to get the letter signed that I have enough money. The later I get that letter, the more money will show up on it.
  • I booked my appointment with the consulate in Toronto. I can not urge you enough to book your appointment well in advance, as there are no immediate openings for appointments. I booked my appointment for June already! I also booked a second appointment one week later just in case everything doesn’t go well the first time around. If I obtain the visa I will cancel the second appointment (It must be cancelled or it can affect your visa!). Just a note: Some provinces do not allow appointments for the attainment of a 2E Visa. In these provinces, you must send it in by mail.
  • My three passport size, colour photos are taken. Please be sure to follow the specific requirement. They have to be professionally taken and I suggest you go to the highest end place possible. The cheaper you pay, the higher the rejection rate of the photos. It cost me about $30 for the three photos.
  • My cover letter is written in French but I will tweak it one more time. I have to be thorough in what I tell them. I will give them a little more detail about my plans, just to be sure.
  • I will purchase my return flight ticket (with an open return date). I suggest you purchase the ticket instead of having proof of the funds.
  • I have the provincial health insurance covering me for my trip. And I will buy travel health insurance asap.
  • I will book an appointment with the insurance company, obtain tenant’s insurance and get the coverage for the personal liability.
  • Other than this, I just need to photocopy everything.

On top of these basic requirements, I will bring and photocopy my birth certificate, give them the information of my boyfriend in France, and show them a copy of my resume and cover letter (both in French, of course).

Attention to detail seems to be the key here!