As my current ‘Titre de Sejour’ (a document which allows me to live and work in France) was due to expire next year , I thought (read my husband thought) that it would be a good idea to apply for French citizenship (whilst not losing my Australian citizenship ).
I’ve had my fair share of paper-work these past 2 decades (UK visa, French residence permit, US residence permit, Australian citizenship and passports for kids, university degree equivalence in 3 different countries, American driver license, Chinese visa…. to name but a few) but this would have to be the longest, most difficult and most expensive one of all (and for the time-being, fruitless…read on). The French might be most renown for their fashion, food and friendliness (ha ha ha) but they are less well know for being the universal masters of redtape:
This is the list of documents that I had to produce: Copy of marriage certificate – less than 3 months old; Birth certificate – translated into French by a Consulate-approved company , (which is of course was a Chinese company and so documents had to first be translated from English to Chinese and then from Chinese to French 240rmb) and then it needed an apostille (yes, I had no idea what that was either!) $100aus (which required sending original document to Australia – which of course got a little lost on the way); Husband’s birth certificate and his parent’s birth certificates; Non-criminal record from all of the countries in which I’ve lived over the past 10 years SO for China 240rmb, legalized twice (once by Chinese officials 150rmb and once by French consulate 119rmb) – plus non criminal records for the UK 80pounds (a complicated matter in itself, thanks Frank for your signatures) and US non-criminal record $20us which then had to be sent back to respective countries to receive an apostille -for the UK 100pounds and for US $100 dollars (except that the US officials couldn’t provide an apostille without the police certificate first being notarized by a ‘California Notary’ – and no unfortunately you can’t simply do that at the US consulate in Shanghai – THANK YOU Mel for sorting that out) ; Sit (and pass) a French language examination 1000rmb (that I’d already sat but whose results were over 3 years old – because presumably my French level could regress….well…actually it has…..quite a bit); Copy of my passport plus passport of partner; Birth certificates of children;Chinese residence permits dating less than 3 months and translated into French 180rmb. A proof of address – with both names on it – less than 3 months old (difficult as we have been re-directing mail from our former apartment on the 20th floor and no longer live on the 20th floor -see post from last November if you missed our 4th move in Shanghai) and…. a copy of the ‘Livret de Famille’ …..which was not actually mentioned on the original list of documents to provide…but there always has to be one document ‘missing’ – it’s simply a mandatory part of the French administrative process.
I handed all of these documents over to my Consulate ‘friend’, who did some stamping… and then I left her office with a sigh of relief……..only later to receive an e-mail message saying that the American police document that I had provided (and which she had already seen over a month ago) is not actually the correct one required and ‘kindly’ explained which document was needed. It would have been useful to have received this message 6 months ago when I had requested – face-to-face – which document was needed (at the time she’d replied: ‘Il suffit de chercher sur l’internet’ – ‘ you just need to look on the internet’)
So basically it is too late for me to make an application here in Shanghai as the missing document will take at least 12weeks for the FBI to produce (plus another few weeks to get an apostille).
So we are now looking at how to make the application in France, and guess what? The required documents are not the same!
The most frustrating thing?…..At the beginning of this post I mentioned that the whole idea of applying for citizenship was to avoid having to renew my Carte de Sejour…….but due to the fact that processing French citizenship applications is so lengthy (upto 12months), I will have renew my Carte de Sejour anyway!
OK….end of rant…..for now. I have other paperwork to attend to: collecting medical records, completing insurance/customs forms for the moving company, writing-up hand-over reports for my speech therapy clients….blah blah blah………
‘Shanghighs‘: I’ve met a few really cool people recently: Lauren (a Melbournite who recently arrived in Shanghai and who is finishing her training to be a yoga instructor). She has a great blog here: http://www.lifeiscomingfromme.com; a Swiss-Taiwanese couple who once lived in Torquay, Australia where I spent all of my childhood holidays, and Chuan who is a local who was inspired to start her own wellness consulting company (AWB) after her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer.
‘Shanglows‘: Discovery that the moving company/Chinese customs need to hold our passports for 3 working days after they have moved all of our belongings. Not very practical really.
‘Shangunusuals‘: Connecting with people at a deeper level …. just before we’re about to leave!….or perhaps because we are about to leave. I had this same feeling before leaving Santa Barbara 3 years ago.