Newsletter Subscribers



Survival Home in Paris

Visit our partners



The Last Waltz

October 2020

The title of this month’s column can be understood in many ways. As an expression, it has come to mean the end, after which people leave.

I admit that I like challenges. This one started when a reader commented in an email, “You don’t include the Band or Eric Clapton in your music choices!”

I am not a fan of The Band or Clapton, although I acknowledge that they are great artists. I consider The Band to have been very underrated, deserving of much wider fame. What I like so much about this comment is that Clapton admired The Band and it was an influence on his career, even though just looking at their respective fame, many would guess it was the other way around.

This short statement shows that my reader is a pretty savvy connoisseur of that era and musical style. I am also interested in them, as the titles of my column show. I am always curious and want to learn more about what was happening between 1965 and 1975 in England and the USA. Not long ago I watched several biographical films on musicians including Marc Bolan, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Ian Anderson and I must add the Irishman Rory Gallagher, to mention some of the best known. They had a definitive impact on the international rock and roll scene in the 1970s. That is how I ended up choosing this title.

From Wikipedia:
“The Last Waltz was a concert by the Canadian-American rock group The Band, held on American Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1976, at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. The Last Waltz was advertised as The Band’s ‘farewell concert appearance’, and the concert saw The Band joined by more than a dozen special guests, including their previous employers Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan as well as Paul Butterfield, Bobby Charles, Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Dr. John, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, Muddy Waters, Ronnie Wood, and Neil Young. The musical director for the concert was The Band’s original record producer, John Simon.

“The event was filmed by director Martin Scorsese and made into a documentary of the same title, released in 1978. Jonathan Taplin, who was The Band’s tour manager from 1969 to 1972 and later produced Scorsese’s film Mean Streets, suggested that Scorsese would be the ideal director for the project and introduced Robbie Robertson and Scorsese. Taplin served as executive producer. The film features concert performances, intermittent song renditions shot on a studio soundstage, and interviews by Scorsese with members of The Band. A triple-LP soundtrack recording, produced by Simon and Rob Fraboni, was issued in 1978. The film was released on DVD in 2002, as was a four-CD box set of the concert and related studio recordings.”

It happens that I saw the movie when it was first in theaters in France, and took some high-school friends with me.

As an expression, “the last waltz” in English is similar in meaning to “le dernier tour de piste”, or last lap. It seems as though every day brings another piece of news that makes this feel like the end of an era. The USA as a nation, has already gone through similar crises, such as the Civil War, throughout its history. The recent news of the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg adds to the impression that the USA as a nation is closing a chapter of its life and is ready to open a new one. However, each side of the political spectrum seems to be looking at a very different chapter.

People living in France rarely know the Asylum procedures. This series of international instruments started with a logical approach to the refugee situation by stating that refugees seeking asylum should have their cases heard only in the country where they first entered the EU. The key assumption was that each country would be able to handle all such requests. People can fly into any EU country, but the reality is that people are coming by foot, by sea, by road, etc., and it is the countries on the EU’s outskirts that are most affected by waves of immigration, without any help from the other countries.

In everyday life, marriage and the pacte civil de solidarité (PACS) look alike, since both give many of the same rights. But there are several key differences. One concerns the procedure to obtain “private life” immigration status. Another issue involves estate planning, as the surviving partner in a PACS receives nothing unless there is a will making a specific bequest.

A situation that often arises concerns the dissolution of a PACS. This is another one of those differences since there is no divorce involved and therefore this must occur amicably. This court case is about the legal responsibilities of the partners, such as whether the financial burden of the relationship should be equally shared or not.

The PACS indeed regulates an official communal life which includes the obligation of taking care of each other in sickness and in health. The article linked below involves a court case in which both names were on the apartment lease but one partner paid the entire rent and other living expenses, and asked to be reimbursed for half when they split up. While one tenant can force another to pay half the rent, the French Supreme Court has consistently ruled that a PACS creates an official couple and therefore it is a communal living arrangement and not a roommate situation. The ruling mentioned in the article, issued on July 20th 2020, once again stuck to this principle: the partner who paid everything was denied the right to compensation from the other one. This said, marriage has the same rule!

Since the creation of the passeport talent immigration status, which covers several types of employee, many think the old salarié status is obsolete and barely exists anymore. And yet the vast majority of jobs offered to foreigners do not fit passeport talent requirements.

There are two very different procedures to obtain salarié status, depending on whether the foreigner is already a legal resident of France or lives in another country.

1. The foreigner lives in France
The procedure starts with a scheduled meeting at the prefecture of the foreigner’s place of residence, at which a file is submitted. The vast majority of its contents come from the employer, but the employee is responsible for carrying out the procedure. The prefecture transfers the file to DIRECCTE, the division of the French administration dealing with employee status from many angles. Its main d’oeuvre étrangère (foreign labor) office is responsible for deciding whether to grant the right to work as an employee. Since it has a clear right to veto any request, it is critical to know how to block it. The legal timeframe for responding to a request is two months, but since there is no penalty if it takes longer, that is quite common.

If the decision is positive, a letter is sent to the employer, the employee and the prefecture, which carries out the last part of the procedure and produces the related carte de séjour.

2. The foreigner lives elsewhere
The employer starts the procedure by submitting the file to the local branch of DIRECCTE to have the labor contract approved and receive approval for the request. Again the two-month period applies, but with the same lack of consequences if it is exceeded. Then the file goes to the branch of the OFII (Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration) in the département where the employer is based, where according to the guidelines it is reviewed for about ten days; in my experience it takes two weeks, which is pretty much the same. After that, the file goes to the French consulate nearest to the foreigner’s place of residence. He/she is asked to submit a request for the visa to be issued. This kind of visa is called VLS-TS, which means it lasts for one year and the foreigner only goes to the prefecture a year or so later. Upon arriving in France, the foreigner must validate this visa with the OFII, in order to secure his/her immigration rights.

The office will close for three weeks over the Christmas holidays, starting on Friday December 18th in the evening and reopening on the morning of Monday January 4th. 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.

As I was drafting this issue, the numbers of people infected with the coronavirus, testing positive, being sent to the emergency room, and dying, were all increasing sharply enough that people were talking about a second wave. At the very least, local authorities, mainly mayors, are issuing regulations to fight this trend. There is nothing too alarming, however. The statistics I was able to access as I wrote this issue were as follows: 78 deaths on September 23rd, 143 taken to the emergency room on Sept. 21st and 783 hospitalized as of Sept. 22nd.

For this month’s Q&A, I thought it would be interesting to answer two of the questions I received during the first lockdown in case even stricter regulations arise. I do not expect another complete lockdown to take place throughout the country, as many different parts of France are barely affected. It is mainly the large cities that have problems, so there could be temporary lockdowns in one or more cities.

Significant restrictions, announced by Olivier Véran, the French health minister, are currently in effect. Here is the list for Paris:

Private parties
10 people maximum
 This new restriction concerns parties, weddings, raffles, volunteer events, birthdays and communion events. Burials and funerals, on the other hand, are not included on this list.

Large gatherings, concerts
1,000 people maximum
 Unless there is an exemption, stadiums, performance halls, convention centers and the like cannot accommodate more than 1,000 participants at the same time (compared to 5,000 previously).

Party rooms and multipurpose rooms
 All party rooms and multipurpose rooms used for festive and community activities are closed.

Gatherings in public spaces
10 people maximum
 This restriction includes gatherings on beaches and in parks.

Working from home
 Without imposing restrictive rules, Véran called for teleworking to be used “as much as possible”.

Major events
This measure applies to local festivals, student parties and other such events.

Early closure 
Bars and cafés must close by 10 p.m. (or even earlier in the event of a prefectural decision).

No new restrictions
 The previous rules remain in force: physical distancing is required, and customers moving around restaurant must wear masks.

Sports halls and gymnasiums
Sports halls, fitness clubs and gymnasiums are closed until further notice.

Establishments open to the public that have no “strict sanitary protocol already in place”
No new restrictions 
The previous rules remain in force: physical distancing and mask wearing are compulsory.

Best regards,


Since we already went through lockdown once, it is much easier now to envisage the policies the French administration will implement if another one takes place.

1. There should be a form to cover the administrative problems caused by the lockdown
As soon as a confinement or other limitation on the freedom to travel is declared, an official list of exceptions will be issued.

In your case, you will have received an appointment from the prefecture. I am sure this will be considered a good reason to travel back to Paris. I believe that picking it up will continue to be the most common way to receive the carte de séjour.

2. Receiving the carte de séjour by registered letter
This option should be considered if the prefecture is incapable of handing out cartes de séjour in a reasonable manner.”

During the week of September 21st, it generally took two to three hours to pick up a carte de séjour at the Paris prefecture. There was a long line outside the building, lasting more than an hour, almost all day just to get in for this kind of appointment. Once through security there was another line, just as long, to enter the office where thecartes de séjour are handed out. At times the waiting room was so full that officials stopped issuing tickets so as to comply with distancing requirement – which is three feet, not six! But there is no distancing in the two lines and police are doing nothing to enforce it.

These conditions are exactly the type that lead to rapid spread of the virus: people glued to each other and a tiny overcrowded room. I can easily imagine that if this situation continues to be so hazardous, sending the documents by registered letter will be the safer alternative for health reasons. Unfortunately and sadly, the administration has not yet made this option available.

3. Rescheduling the appointment
Interestingly enough, it has always been easy to reschedule the appointment to pick up the card, mainly because little is at stake. The prefecture has made its decision; the card is ready; the only thing left is to pick it up. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was possible to just show up and get the card if one missed the appointment. Now, of course, that is completely out of the question. But there is a page on the website where it is possible to ask for a new appointment, the system is quite good, and the email giving the new appointment comes pretty quickly. The date varies quite a lot depending on demand; it can be a few weeks later.

4. Extending the validity of the documents
Do not forget that when the prefecture was totally shut down, the validity of immigration IDs was extended by six months. That was a way to handle the crisis and push back the moment when the foreigner needed to have a meeting. Now this policy is no longer in effect since all French prefectures are open. Nevertheless, it would not take much for a prefecture to shut down for a few weeks if there are too many COVID cases in the locality.

Things can change rapidly in a city like Paris, possibly increasing the requirement for new regulations.


Before going into detail on the list and procedure, I need to address what seems to be a misunderstanding on your part. There is no such a thing as a “long-stay tourist visa”; no visa issued by French consulates is called that. If your visa has any name at all, it is almost certainly labeled as a “D” visa, which grants you an immigration status that can be renewed when it expires. If it has no name on it, it is just a long-stay visa and your stay in France is legal until its expiration date.

Calling this visa “visiteur” is misleading. Too many people have the wrong idea what it is and think it conveys extended tourist status in France. While France was shut down, many American citizens holding a “D” visa, especially the visiteurs, thought they were subject to the French travel restrictions applying to non-EU citizens. Even now many people have this misunderstanding, and the sad news is that the French consulate in Washington, DC, is adding to the confusion by sending out emails so confusing that people read them and think they are not allowed to come to France, even though they hold an immigration visa.

Now that I have addressed the name of the visa, I would like to reply to your question. The following statement may appear provocative, but it is useful when it comes to dealing with the procedure for renewing or changing any kind of immigration status at the prefecture.

All types of immigration status involve proving, one way or another, four basic things:

  • 1. Who you are?
  • 2. What financial means you have?
  • 3. What your address is?
  • 4. What health coverage you have?

Because the visiteur status is the entry level immigration status, these four things are all you need to document.

Looking at it this way seems simple, except it must follow French logic, which is completely different from the American way. It takes several documents to prove each thing mentioned on the list. Each item on the list is a question you must answer fully, making sure to cover all the details.

For example, regarding the first item, an American citizen might reasonably think that a passport is enough valid ID. The French administration sees it very differently.

To meet French expectations, you need to provide everything listed below, in the same order as the list presented above.

These are the documents that define who you are by French standards.

The ID page
The visa page

The OFII confirmation with your foreign ID number
The OFII statement that you went through the physical

Your family:
Birth certificate officially translated into French: the prefecture wants to know the details of your parentage, as it defines who you are.

Plus, if applicable:
Marriage license Divorce decree
Passport and birth certificate of spouse and any children living in France.

All of the following that are applicable.

  • up to 12 consecutive monthly French bank statements showing that you brought in more than 14,000 euros and have spent about the same amount, as a minimum; there is no maximum.
  • your most recent American 1040 form to show that you are declaring your income. You have not been in France long enough to have the French equivalent, the avis d’imposition sur le revenue, which should be submitted the following years.
  • one or more American bank statements, dating back no more than three months, showing a significant balance; I advise clients to show more than $22,000.
  • your most recent Social Security statement, if you are retired.

These show that you have the means to stay in France, where your money comes from, and how much you are spending in France. It is critical to open a French bank account immediately and find a way to pay as much as possible of your French expenses from this account. Otherwise the prefecture may think you do not live in France. American bank statements showing credit card transactions and ATM withdrawals in France are not admissible as proof since they are not French documents!

Proof of address

The simplest thing is to either own or rent in your name. Then you must provide:

  • A statement from the utility company, proof of tenant insurance for liability and a monthly bill for internet connection and, if applicable, a landline. These should be the latest bill, or, if you pay your utility bills via monthly bank transfer, a copy of the annual wrap-up.
  • The lease or proof of ownership.

The logic here is that you prove two very different things:
a – the legal right you have to be in your domicile, which comes from a lease or a title and 
b – recent documents related to utilities or insurance showing that you still live there.

It is also possible to be hosted and then the required documents are:
An affidavit of lodging from the person hosting you with an original signature,
A copy of an official ID such as a passport, a carte de séjour, a French ID card of your host.
A statement from the utility company, proof of tenant insurance for liability and a monthly bill for internet connection and, if applicable, a landline. Ideally there should two from this list, bearing the name of host.

To prove that you have health insurance that is valid in France, there are three things you must provide:

  • proof that you are insured, including what kind of policy, from which insurance company, and what the start and end dates of the policy are.
  • how much the premiums are, including proof of payment from the company, if possible, and the payment method.
  • proof that your policy offers a comprehensive coverage in France.

If the documents are in English, many prefectures will demand that they be translated into French.

Presented this way, the file makes more sense, as it follow the logic that you have to prove every aspect of each requirement.

Since you went through the OFII procedure, you have your foreign ID number, which allows you to renew your immigration status.

It should go without saying, but I believe it is worth repeating: You are all immigrants in France, so you are here to stay as long as you want, provided you continue to meet the requirements.


Survival Home in Paris

Visit our partners



Newsletter Subscribers