Oh, life has been busy lately fellow interneters. I had lunch with my french teacher from high school, Mrs. Burriss. That was really nice. It was good to catch up. She’s so excited for me. And then I’ve been getting stuff ready for this fundraiser I’m helping host (another post for another time) this weekend actually. And then of course, there’s the Visa.
I can’t remember ever having gone through the Visa process before, probably because if we needed one in the past my parents took care of it. I would’ve been like 7. I don’t know if France is just like this or if it’s visas in general but there’s so much stuff that you have to have! Like seriously. And this is on top of the CampusFrance forms that you have to fill out if you’re a student before you can even apply for the actual visa. So, this is what you have to bring with you when you show up at the consulate: passport, 2 copies of the visa application, driver’s license or other ‘positive proof of residence’, self-addressed envelope, 2 recent photos passport style, the processing fee (cash or money order only), the OFII form (if you’re staying more than 90 days from what I understood), the confirmation email and receipt from CampusFrance, proof of financial support (for anyone who isn’t independent that means a notarized statement from your financial supporter and a bank statement of theirs proving that they can provide you with sufficent funds) and a confirmation letter from your school in the US. I think that’s it. And of course you have to have a copy of everything.
Of course, being my luck, I got to the consulate and was finishing up my appointment when I was informed by the guy behind the counter that apparently they also needed a copy of the confirmation letter from the school in France that I’ll be attending. I swear the checklist thing I found on the website said a letter from either the US school or the school in France. So I have to send them a copy of that along with a copy of the receipt that I was given. I don’t see why they need the copy of the receipt unless it’s just to verify that I actually sent the letter but that doesn’t really make sense to me…
Anywho. Okay, so you’re probably wondering what happens when you go for the visa right? Well, first you have to make an appointment with the consulate in your area. Or you can hire a service to take care of it for you so that you don’t have to show up in person but I’d rather just do it myself. That way you know that it’s done and that you have everything you need. For me, the closest consulate is in Atlanta. That’s not too bad. It’s only a few hours away and I’m used to long car rides (think 12+ hours). So Mom and I left Monday late afternoon after she got off work and we spent the night at a hotel that was maybe 10 minutes from the consulate. It’s kind of in a weird place, I think so at least. The building that it’s in, called the Lenox Building, is right next to a mall.
I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous about it but not as nervous as my mom maybe was. She had us leave almost an hour and a half before my appointment time. Remember how I said it was maybe 10 minutes up the road? Okay, granted, it took us a little bit to figure out how to get to the building from the parking lot but that’s partly because Mom wanted to get to it through the mall entrance instead of just walking back out of the garage and down the street like I said…anyway. Even with that little bit of fumbling, I was still there an hour early. And since I’m not a minor, they told Mom to wait downstairs since she wasn’t applying for a visa.
There is security at these places though nothing like TSA or anything. Mom thought there’d be some kind of metal detector or something and she was right. When you first go through the door, you have to put everything (bags, jackets, purses, etc) to the side in a bin and just walk through the detector. No guard standing there or anything, just a guy behind the counter. He’s the one that told Mom to wait downstairs then directed me to a door on my left. I had to wait for him to unlock it before I could push it open. Then I spent an hour sitting in a chair while a family of four went through the process. From what I gathered, they were leaving for France on the 1st (today) which kind of surprised seeing as it was the 31st, the day before. It looked kind of like a bank, there were two windows and a person sat behind the window and there was a big metal dip in the counter where you passed them your forms and stuff. And then to the left is a digital fingerprint scanner and a chair where you sit to have your picture taken.
I swear, what is with it and governmental photos? Do they purposely try to make you look absolutely terrible? In the last 7 pictures I’ve had to take for school or passport or driver’s license, whatever, has looked terrible. Are they allergic to smiling faces or something? I remember in high school, we were waiting to get our school ID pictures taken, I made my friend laugh in her picture so that she’d be smiling in it and it’d look okay and the lady got mad at me! I was just trying to make sure my friend had a decent ID picture but apparently that’s a crime or something. Whatever. She didn’t have to retake it so I won 😛 Anyway. So that’s basically the visa process, at least as I’ve experienced it. Not too exciting. Necessary maybe, but not too exciting. Basically typical beaurocracy, lots of papers and then just waiting. Now I guess I just wait to see if I get a visa and for them to mail me my passport back (that’s what the envelope is for). Can’t leave without it. I believe that’s all for now folks! Ta-ta.