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The Battle of Evermore

March 2022

Queen of light took her bow
And then she turned to go
The prince of peace embraced the gloom
And walked the night alone
Oh dance in the dark of night
Sing to the morning light
The dark lord rides in force tonight
And time will tell us all
Oh throw down your plow and hoe
Rest not to lock your homes
Side by side we wait the might
Of the darkest of them all
I hear the horses’ thunder
Down in the valley blow
I’m waiting for the angels of Avalon
Waiting for the eastern glow
The apples of the valley hold
The seas of happiness
The ground is rich from tender care
Repay do not forget no no
Oh dance in the dark of night
Sing to the morning light
The apples turn to brown and black
The tyrant’s face is red
Oh the war is common cry
Pick up you swords and fly
The sky is filled with good and bad
That mortals never know
Oh well the night is long
The beads of time pass slow
Tired eyes on the sunrise
Waiting for the eastern glow
The pain of war cannot exceed
The woe of aftermath
The drums will shake the castle wall
The ring wraiths ride in black
Ride on
Sing as you raise your bow
Shoot straighter than before
No comfort has the fire at night
That lights the face so cold
Oh dance in the dark of night
Sing to the mornin’ light
The magic runes are writ in gold
To bring the balance back
Bring it back
At last the sun is shining
The clouds of blue roll by
With flames from the dragon of darkness
The sunlight blinds his eyes

“The Battle of Evermore,” from the 1971 Led Zeppelin album popularly known as Led Zeppelin IV, is a folk duet whose lyrics allude to J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings.

I discovered this band in junior high and immediately became a fan. These lyrics are very allegoric in the style of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing and maybe in that way are describing today’s war in eastern Europe. All the same, considering what is at stake, I wanted a title that could be linked to that crisis. I was a fan then and still listen to their albums as often as I can, although not as background music, their music keeps me from working.

As I write, Russian troops are in Ukraine and appear poised to move westward. Everybody seems to have an opinion about this. Many are talking about WWIII.

My December 2019 issue was titled “The Wall,” after the eleventh studio album by the English rock band Pink Floyd, released on 30 November 1979. This is what I wrote then:

I much prefer the first part of their career when Syd Barrett’s influence was significant, even when he was not there anymore. I often prefer the lesser-known, so my favorite recording is Live at Pompeii, a 1972 concert documentary.

I often thought of choosing it when the border wall policy was making the news for months on end, but that would have been too easy. A very long time ago, I used the Bee Gees song “How deep is your love?”, but adding “how tall is the wall?”, illustrating the fact that when people’s absolute despair pushes them to flee, no barriers, regulations or military border enforcement will deter them: many of them will make it to the other side.

In recent weeks a different wall has been in the news – the Berlin Wall, and with it what was then called the Iron Curtain that split Europe in two. Of course the division of Germany through the creation of Eastern Germany under Communist rule scarred Europe for almost 40 years. Very few were able to get through the Iron Curtain alive in order to escape these Communist regimes. At the same time, many managed to defect during official trips to the Western countries because they were athletes, musicians, scholars, and they asked for asylum in the countries where they found themselves. They obtained it right away with virtually no procedure.

Remembering my youth growing up in Europe and being aware of the alienation created by this physical wall were some of the reasons that I chose this title. This album is about a man suffering from mental alienation, isolating himself, suffering from paranoia. Having this idea that the wall protects him also played a role in my choice, as it resonates with the news I am getting.

From Wikipedia
The Berlin Wall was a guarded concrete barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Construction of the Wall was commenced by the German Democratic Republic on 13 August 1961…. After several weeks of civil unrest, the East German government announced on 9 November 1989 that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin, ultimately resulting in the demise of the Wall.

Many have written about and commented on the 30th anniversary of the fall of this wall. Many have published articles, videos, testimonies from that time to commemorate this groundbreaking event, which certainly reshaped the Western world, and in my view most if not almost all the international political crises that exist today. This belief stems from the fact that there was a balance of power between two superpowers – the USA and the USSR, which involved their allied countries. This balance, dangerous because it was backed up by nuclear arsenals, forced those two superpowers to refrain themselves from going too far in the direction of declaring war and invading countries. From the American side the Vietnam War can be looked at from this standpoint. I believe that the invasion of Afghanistan shows the same on the side of the USSR side. At the risk of sticking my neck out too far, I might add that the more recent invasion of the Ukrainian provinces of Crimea and Donbass might not have taken place, had such a balance continued to exist in a different form. Indeed Ukraine has been asking to be part of the EU and is allied with the USA.

The vast majority of the people living in the USA, as well as many Europeans, have never experienced what it meant to face that wall. In reality most of those who had a personal experience were those who lived where these Soviet walls existed. The wall was not a tourist attraction as such until it was torn down.

It so happens that during the summer of 1975, travelling with my parents, our family experienced first-hand what it meant to face this wall. We were staying with my aunt and uncle in Helsinki in Finland, from where we made several day-trips by car. So one day we were driving East in very thick Finnish forests when we saw road signs telling us to turn around, because the road on which we were traveling led to the border with the USSR, which today would be Russia. For miles and miles, my father ignored those signs, which were in just about all the languages that one can think of, with very explicit images. He drove until we met Finnish army personnel holding their machine guns horizontally in shooting position. We could see the tall concrete wall with barbed wire all over it. We could see the Red Army military personnel on top of several watchtowers who spotted us, pointing their machine-guns at us. Very politely the Finnish soldier explained to us in perfect English that we had to turn around immediately and leave the premises. We did!

The USSR was governed by one of the bloodiest and all-around worst dictatorships that modern world history has known.

This concludes my digressions about these topics, or maybe just one topic with several facets. I had no idea that I would be receiving so many testimonies, most of them heartbreaking, but never bitter or angry. I believe that they shed a very interesting light on the two very different narratives told by each side of the argument. I fully agree that there is a need for policies, for enforcing laws, and therefore the establishment of a comprehensive immigration policy. This is true for all the Western countries faced with both an influx of asylum seekers and a large number of undocumented aliens. The truth is that this policy deals with people who are deeply scared by what they went through in their own country, as well as by what they have experienced following their arrival in the West.

Today most Western media are calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a dictator or an autocrat. I believe he wants to be some kind of modern czar, like the rulers of Russia before the 1917 revolution. This fits the Russian way of looking at the situation. It is also clear to me that he is trying to resurrect the former USSR one way or another, or at least regain some control or influence over most of the countries that were part of it.

In France, presidential campaigns and voting are conducted very differently from those in the USA. American elections are almost always between two candidates – a Democrat and a Republican. Only in rare cases is there a significant third candidate.

The French election is in two rounds. This year the first one will be on April 10th. Ten or more nationally recognized candidates will have airtime on national TV. Their campaign financing will be paid in part by the government in an attempt to give everybody a fair chance. The second round will be on April 24th. The maximum amount that can be spent is 16.85 million euros for the first round and 22.51 million euros for the two or possibly three candidates allowed to compete in the second round. For months, French media have published the results of polls trying to determine who will be the candidates competing in the second round. Currently such polls indicate about five candidates who could make it to the final round: the incumbent President Emmanuel Macron; one leftist candidate; and three from extreme right or conservative parties.

Another issue that the media is now covering extensively and that the public is observing closely to involves the need for any candidate to have at least 500 elected officials as sponsors to be allowed to compete in the first round. Usually national politicians have no problem passing this test, while lesser-known ones from small political parties face a real challenge. Right now there is outrage in some corners over the fact that less than two weeks before the March 4th deadline to secure sponsorship and be declared a candidate, eight candidates have done so while two of the best-polling candidates were still short. This has never happened before. Many believe some candidates and political parties have such a stranglehold on this procedure that they will be able to prevent two of the extreme right candidates from competing. If this is true, it is undemocratic. The voters should choose whom they want to elect. Polls indicate that the excluded candidates could be in second and third place after the first round. This would also mean that five candidates who have enough sponsors would, according to the same polls, have zero chance of reaching the second round.

It will be interesting to find out in the future how this situation came to be and who, if anyone, orchestrated it.

I have often addressed the somewhat unusual way water damage insurance claims are handled in France. It starts with filling out a form, the constat amiable de dégâts des eaux, describing what happened. It gives the location and origin of the leak as well as the extent of damage to both apartments. Both insurance companies are informed and open a claim file. After that, the procedure is regulated by the Convention d’Indemnisation et de Recours des Sinistres Immeuble, or IRSI agreement, which replaced an earlier convention called CIDRE on June 1st, 2018.

The tenant’s insurance covers damage of up to 1,600€ HT, so below that amount the insurance companies do not try to establish liability. They figure it is cheaper to reimburse the insured than let the procedure drag on. In the case of water damage costing between 1,600€ HT and 5,000€ HT to repair, the landlord’s insurance handles what is considered to be real estate damage, while the tenant’s policy covers damage to the furnishings and decor. Consequently, the landlord’s insurer requires an evaluation of the damage so the responsibilities can be determined to start the compensation process.

If the cost of repairing the damage exceeds 5,000€ HT, the IRSI agreement does not apply; the insurance company of the party responsible for the damage pays for everything.

The insurance companies are trying to be cost-effective, but may be going too far. Some issue compensation based on a description of the damage – for example, a wall needs to be repainted. Compensation may be based simply on the surface area needing work. Recently I encountered a new way of evaluating damage: to see the condition of the apartment, the insurance valuer took control of the occupant’s smartphone and recorded what the rooms looked like.

In the old days there would have been in-person meetings involving the tenants, the landlord, the property management firm and each insurance company’s valuer. Such meetings could drag on forever because of the conflicting interests represented. At the same time, the policy holders felt recognized and defended by their insurance company. Today, in the vast majority of water damage cases, your insurance company defends its best interests, not yours.


I continue to slowly move toward working fewer hours in the hope of having a lifestyle more compatible with my age. As I have done in the past, I am once again scheduling an increase in my fees. I expect my assistant to continue to pick up more tasks linked to the URSSAF, CPAM and other public offices procedures. She already handles most dealings with the offices who register self-employed people. 
1st meeting/1st work: 350 euros for 2 hours 
Extra per hour: 150 euros 
Handling mail in my office: 50 euros per month 
Handling mail at my home: 60 euros per month 
Surcharge for out-of-office meetings: 80 euros, assuming less than 30 minutes’ transportation 
Surcharge for meetings and phone calls at the client’s request after 7PM weekdays, all weekend, on national French holidays and during vacations: 30%.

The office will be closed for three weeks over the summer holidays, starting on Friday, July 8th, in the evening and reopening on the morning of Monday, August 22nd. As always, I will be reachable by email for emergencies and important matters. The service I offer of receiving mail for clients will continue while the office is closed. Of course, Sarah or I will honor prefecture meetings already scheduled, as well as a couple of other engagements.

Over the holidays, my assistant, Sarah, took an interesting initiative and created a new Facebook page. It is a good move for her since she and I both moderate it. She can show off her expertise and her ability to give good advice and clearly explain solutions. She does this in French, leaving the queries in English to me.

Since I am already active in a few Facebook groups and my website is my main showcase, I did not feel I needed such a page. On the other hand, it will no doubt benefit her. I do not have the time to monitor this forum and so far, it has been fairly quiet. Sarah is still figuring out how to handle this new task, being quite busy herself. I am sure it will be a great space for exchanges and hope it will pick up soon.

You are welcome to join:

Best regards,


I hear your concern but I do not see how this is possible. I would like to reassure you that such a scenario cannot exist. The first thing is to address the issues in detail.
1 – There is indeed an obligation to declare your income to France as a French immigrant.
Your message indicates that you have just arrived in France. Assuming that means in 2022, you will declare your worldwide 2022 income to the French tax office in April, May or June 2023. That will be your first declaration. You will never declare your 2021 income to France, since you were not a French resident. I do not see how the French authorities can know what your 2021 income was, which included the capital gain.
A side issue will be the renewal of your immigration status in about a year or less. The file involved is now submitted exclusively online. Furthermore, it can be uploaded without any French tax documents. At the time of submission, it will be impossible for you to have any such documents. Also, unless the prefecture drastically changes its policy, it will not require Americans to submit French or American income tax documents. Thus you will not legally be obliged to do so. It is then your choice to declare or not.

2 – URSSAF collects the PUMa premium.
The agency called URSSAF, which collects social charges, only knows about your worldwide income if you declare it to the French tax office. Only in the last few years has URSSAF had access to the French income tax declaration. You may be charged for French health care, known as PUMa (protection universelle maladie) if you declare your worldwide income. Indeed there is a disconnect between paying into the system and having coverage. This French income declaration includes what is earned in the USA. If you do not declare, you cannot be charged.
Thus, although it is against French fiscal law, you might be better off not declaring at all. But if you do get coverage by PUMa, this would be considered a sort of tax fraud, and would also have other consequences.

3 – You may obtain a carte de résident and French nationality.
Holding visiteur status is often the first step in a lengthy procedure to obtain a residence card, valid for ten years. Requirements for its issuance include proving a minimum of five years of French fiscal residence. Hence this is one trade-off of declaring worldwide income to France. The carte de résident is mandatory for requesting naturalization. You thus have a choice between staying with the carte de séjour visiteur and getting away with not declaring to the French tax office and not having PUMa coverage, or declaring your worldwide income to the French, possibly paying for PUMa and getting ready for better immigration status.

4 – CPAM provides French public health coverage.
The 1999 law on universal health coverage states that the French public healthcare system covers everybody residing in France legally. This sounds insane to Americans because of the disconnect between having coverage and paying anything toward it. But as an immigrant holding visiteur status, this provision includes you if you want to sign for it. There is no age limit, no declaration of preexisting conditions, no medical test required in order to register for your local caisse primaire d’assurance maladie (CPAM), which administers PUMa. On the other hand, the file to register is about as comprehensive as the one for the prefecture: you must prove your legal status in France and your actual presence for at least six months of the year, even though the official guidelines state three months. The file does not ask for French fiscal documents. Indeed, you are supposed to be able to register after staying in France for three months or more, and French fiscal documents are not available until about 18 months after your arrival. I repeat: if you register with CPAM and do not declare your income to France, it is tantamount to cheating on taxes.

I hope this explains the links between all these issues and will help you make the right choice depending on your goals – either permanent residency in France or limiting interaction with the French administration as much as possible.


To answer this question I must first review your current situation and what it means to the procedure you have just started. You uploaded all the documents the website asked for, received confirmation that the upload was complete and then got this message.
I need to remind you that losing the legal right of immigration and continuing to stay in France means you are an undocumented alien, and have violated the immigration code and committed a felony. I would think you would appreciate the leniency of the French legal system in allowing you to obtain legal immigration status. A six-month wait should be seen as a small inconvenience in regard to what this procedure offers you. In other words, you have been in France illegally for a couple of years (I assume that you did not leave France when you lost your legal status). Waiting a few more months should not be that difficult. I understand that you are anxious to visit the USA, but you need to be reasonable. Furthermore, the complete procedure is going to take a long time. Even if you are lucky and get the approval in half the time mentioned by the prefecture, it is extremely unlikely that you will receive the carte de séjour in time to travel safely to the USA and back. It would be wise to cancel the trip and get a refund for your tickets, if possible.

1 – Why the initial procedure takes six months
The prefecture is telling you that this is the average duration. Keep in mind two things. First, the prefecture’s priority is dealing with the normal procedures of people who have a legal stay in France. Your file will be reviewed when it can be done. Second, the prefecture does not like these regularization procedures. The applicant is an undocumented alien living with an illegal status. Reviewing them slowly, or even very slowly, is a way to express disapproval of giving illegal immigrants a legal stay. Nevertheless, you can assume that it might be shorter because you are American and your request is fairly strong. If the prefecture considers your file to be perfectly documented, it may quickly rule in your favor, in less than the stated average. You just cannot know when you will get their answer.

2 – Creating a carte de séjour takes about three months
After the file is submitted and the prefecture has approved it, it gives you an appointment. It will want to check your original documents and any updates, and you will be fingerprinted and have to sign a form asking for the carte de séjour. This appointment is always scheduled at least two weeks after the approval, so you need to add that delay to your estimate.
At the end of the meeting, you will get a temporary paper ID called arécépissé. After that it takes two to three months to produce the card and have it sent to the prefecture. Then you have to get an appointment to pick it up. It is public knowledge that this appointment can be several weeks in the future. Thus, to be realistic, add four months to whatever time it will take the prefecture to approve your request.

3 – You are not legally allowed to leave France without a carte de séjour
The récépissé gives you a legal stay in France but does not allow you to leave France. Indeed, this is the only time this paper ID is not backed up by an expired immigration ID, such as a visa or a carte de séjour. As an American, you have the right to go in and out of France on your passport alone, so this legislation does not apply to you – unless the borders are closed, and who knows if this will be the case again in the future? If such a closure should happen while you are in the USA with just the temporary paper ID, the solution is called a visa de retour. It is issued when the foreigner does not having ID proving that they have a valid immigration right that would allow them to return to France. A French consulate will check with your prefecture to see if you have such a right.

So, my advice is not to even think of leaving France before you have the meeting at the prefecture. Until then you will not know if your immigration request has been approved. Imagine how the prefecture would react if asked for a visa de retour when it had not yet ruled on your case. I believe you would lose everything, and have to ask for a long-stay visa using the normal procedure in the USA, starting with an appointment with VFS Global and submitting the entire file you gave the prefecture – with the slight handicap that, legally speaking, you are not living with your partner. Indeed, legally speaking, asking for a visa means you are entering France for the first time. Even if you hold a récépissé, you could still have to go through this procedure if the borders close, but at least you would know you will be approved and come back to France. Still, you could be stuck in the USA for a while.


The immigration issue needs to be addressed first. You hold the private life (vie privée & familiale) immigration status, which gives you all types of right to work in France without having to ask for them. So, to answer your question, yes you have the right to be a French freelancer once you register your business with URSSAF, and there is no limit to how much you can earn.
The other issue is more complicated. As an independent registered in France, you need to manage your business so that you have multiple clients as quickly as possible. If you wish to register a business, you must understand that either you will be building your career as an independent consultant OR this status is only for a short time, a year or so, and your goal is to work as an employee, in France or elsewhere.

I would like to review in some detail the offer you got from the company in Germany. I see two very different issues:
1 – What can you do right now?
2 – How do you see your future career?

1 – Right now
Registering your business takes half an hour or less, depending on how well you prepare the information needed. Once that is done, you need to get a copy of the P0 form you have just filled out. You also need to create a template for your invoices and receipts.
You will get confirmation from INSEE that your business officially exists. This is the first thing you will receive in the mail.

2 – Future career
You might hear people talking about the serious danger of signing with just one client. The danger exists, but 90% of the time is misunderstood.
The risk involves the procedure that inspectors and police have regarding taxes and social charges. If they decide the reality is that you are an employee of your only client, your legal and fiscal status will have to be changed.
My main observation about this is that the profile of a real consultant is someone who works for one client for a few months full time and then moves on to another one. What the inspectors look at is how much independence you have in your work. The French definition of an employee involves being subordinate: le lien de subordination is the legal concept mentioned in the law. If you are perfectly happy with your first client, you then need to decide about your career. If you want to be their employee, it is possible but needs to be worth it, as the paperwork is substantial. Or, if you prefer being independent, the first client may only be the start of a new career.


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