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