Chicago, Illinois: Visa Adventures

When I got accepted to TAPIF back in April, one of the first things I had to prepare for was obtaining a French work visa. I received my arrêté de nomination (Work Contract) at the beginning of June, and then I was able to schedule an appointment online for the end of July. There are only about a dozen French Consulates (embassies) in the United States, and anyone living in North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, or Wisconsin must travel to Chicago in person for their 10-minute appointment. Unfortunately for those living so far away, there are absolutely no exceptions to this rule (I’m lucky I live only a train ride away)! Anyways, my friend Erin and I decided to go and see Book of Mormon on the evening of the 31st of July, after I was done teaching summer school, so I just decided to schedule my appointment for the same day and get a substitute for my classes on Tuesday. It ended working out great. Erin came down Monday night, and although we were planning on originally taking the train, the times just didn’t line up, so we ended up driving (luckily traffic was not bad)!

We arrived in Chicago with plenty of time to spare, so we walked down Michigan Avenue and popped in and out of shops until it was time for my appointment. Erin waited on some picnic tables with a book while I ventured through building security and up to the 37th floor (my ears actually popped in the elevator) to the French Consulate. I had to turn in my ticket and wait to be called, but it was overall a piece of cake. I had all the appropriate documents (passport + 1 copy, work contract + one copy, visa application form, passport style photo, French residency application, and an pre-paid express envelope for my passport) so all I needed to do was get a photo and finger prints taken and I was on my way.

Erin and I spent the rest of the day taking a boat cruise around the river and learning about the architecture of the various Chicago buildings. It was so interesting and I forget that Chicago is actually such a new city, due to the fire that destroyed it just about 100 years ago. I got some great photos!

We finally met Erin’s uncle Steve for dinner and then headed on our way to The Book of Mormon at the Bank of America Theatre. (For the record, the show was excellent, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from the creators of South Park. The show DID win 9 Tony’s, after all.)

I received my visa/passport back this past Saturday, and although I am ready to go, my visa expires May 2, 2014. This is a problem because I am planning to stay and travel until June 13, 2014… Meaning that I am technically supposed to leave France on or before this date. I have emailed a few officials regarding this problem, as well as completed some Internet research. I believe I will be able to leave for the UK (it’s not part of the Schengen Area) and then re-enter as a tourist after a few days. Hopefully all will work out as it should!

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How was your visa experience? Have you ever seen the Book of Mormon?

Bisous,

Dana

7 thoughts on “Chicago, Illinois: Visa Adventures

  1. Hi Dana! Question for you, if you can remember…When your passport was mailed back to you, did the consulate also return your arrêté? They kept mine and I thought they would mail it back, but my passport arrived today sans arrêté. Luckily I have a few copies but I kind of wanted the original back….

    1. Hi! I believe I did get my arrête back, along with the OFII papers. You could always email or phone them about the original, but you should be okay with the copies 🙂

  2. Hi Dana!

    Question – the long stay visa application asks for your expected date of entry into France, Does this mean your plane ticket needs to be secured before the visa appointment?

    1. I already had my plane ticket bought but you don’t have to. Just estimate the day you think you will arrive and then don’t enter the Schengen Zone before that date on your visa. My visa actually ended up expiring before my plane ticket back to the states, so I had to go to morocco. In a way it may be better to wait until you have your visa because then you know when you have the right to be in Europe (unless you tell then the date your plane is leaving– definitely no harm in asking!)

  3. The visa expiration dates are so weird and arbitrary. Mine was good for eleven months, but I had friends with early expiration dates like yours. Maybe it depends on which consulate you’re in? We could never figure out why it was so random.

    1. I can’t figure it out either! I am leaving at the beginning of September but a few weeks should not make a big difference. My friends who did the program last year, however, also had visas that went well into July, and they both visited the Chicago Consulate…

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