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Wind of Change

December 2022

Christmas is around the corner and my office will be open for another two weeks or so before closing for the holidays.

I would like to wish you all the usual season’s greetings. We can hope for a better year in 2023. The COVID crisis feels like it is over. I hope we all can find a way to sincerely exchange best wishes with each other. There will always be worries and dangers looming here and there. That said, I wish you all



“Wind of Change” is a song by the West German rock band Scorpions. Recorded for their 11th studio album,Crazy World (1990), it is a power ballad composed by lead singer Klaus Meine. He wrote the lyrics after the band visited the Soviet Union at the height of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika reform movement, when hostility between the communist and capitalist blocs was reduced as the Soviet Union undertook wide-scale social and economic reforms.

Released as the album’s third single on 21 January 1991, “Wind of Change” became an international hit, arriving not long before the failed coup against Gorbachev that led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Follow the Moskva
Down to Gorky Park
Listening to the wind of change
An August summer night
Soldiers passing by
Listening to the wind of change
The world is closing in
Did you ever think
That we could be so close, like brothers
The future’s in the air
Can feel it everywhere
Blowing with the wind of change
Take me to the magic of the moment
On a glory night
Where the children of tomorrow dream away
In the wind of change
Walking down the street
Distant memories
Are buried in the past, forever
I follow the Moskva
Down to Gorky Park
Listening to the wind of change
Take me to the magic of the moment
On a glory night
Where the children of tomorrow share their dreams
With you and me
Take me to the magic of the moment
On a glory night
Where the children of tomorrow dream away
In the wind of change
The wind of change
Blows straight into the face of time
Like a storm wind that will ring the freedom bell
For peace of mind
Let your balalaika sing
What my guitar wants to say
Take me to the magic of the moment
On a glory night
Where the children of tomorrow share their dreams
With you and me
Take me to the magic of the moment
On a glory night
Where the children of tomorrow dream away
In the wind of change

I get teary just about every time I listen to this song. I am not a real fan of the band, but this song is so loaded with major world events that I find it very moving. It is the “We Shall Overcome” of Eastern Europe and the fall of the USSR. All of the band’s members came from Hanover, a city not far from the former Iron Curtain.

As the end of 2022 nears, I can feel strong winds of change on so many levels. They could make our lives rockier in the short term but we can all hope for a better outcome. As far as I am concerned, the coming year, 2023, brings a new adventure in my life: the rental project starting a couple of days after New Year’s Day. I feel ready for it, after months of preparation. I am deeply touched that my daughter, Lucille, came up with the acronym SHIP for this project. In doing so, she transformed a boring Parisian rental into a sailing vessel ready for high-sea adventures, a tall ship catching the wind of change.

A client of mine sent me this email the day I sent out the November issue.
Dear Jean,
You are the BEST!
Your analysis always makes one think and reflect, at least within a margin of error of +/- 3%.
Keep up the good work.

I closely followed the results of the US midterm elections. Before the elections, countless polls were done, with widely differing results. As I stated in the November issue, the real professional pollsters admitted that they lacked the tools to accurately measure the coming vote. Many major elections were won by a razor-thin margin. In some cases, days passed and no definitive results were announced. How many times have we heard “within the margin of error?” I almost wanted to use this as the title of the December issue. Here is what I would have based it on (from Wikipedia):

“Margin for Error is a 1943 American drama film directed by Otto Preminger. The screenplay by Lillie Hayward and Samuel Fuller is based on the 1939 play of the same title by Clare Boothe Luce.

When police officer Moe Finkelstein (Milton Berle) and his colleague Officer Salomon are ordered to serve as bodyguards to German consul Karl Baumer (Otto Preminger) by the mayor of New York City, Finkelstein turns in his badge, convinced he has to quit the service because the man is a Nazi. Capt. Mulrooney, who appointed them to this job, tells Moe that although the mayor personally is opposed to Adolf Hitler and his regime, the mayor is responsible for the safety of everybody, and he believes that through this assignment Finkelstein can show them the difference between their system and the Nazi one.

Moe quickly discovers Baumer is in trouble with Berlin for having squandered money intended to finance sabotage. His secretary, Baron Max von Alvenstor (Carl Esmond), has become disenchanted with his boss and refuses to delay the delivery of a damaging financial report to Berlin. Baumer’s Czechoslovak wife, Sophia, confesses to Moe that she loathes her husband and married him only to secure her father’s release from prison. Also at odds with Baumer is Otto Horst, who has been ordered to procure false identification cards for German saboteurs assigned to blow up an American port at the end of a radio broadcast delivered by Hitler.”

I’ll let everybody draw their own conclusions and maybe draw parallels between this plot, a work of fiction, and some real or alleged events of recent times.

The more I reflect on this issue the more I see how deep the difference is between France and the USA regarding what is called illegal immigration. It always starts with crossing the border illegally or overstaying a visa or type of immigration status. Many argue – and with some merit, regarding certain immigrants – that such a situation should not prevent those with some right to claim to stay in the country from procuring a ruling from the local authorities or a court. As a professional in this field, as well as a French citizen, I can attest to how differently the issue is addressed by the USA and France.

In the USA, virtually the only the people who can enter without a visa and end up staying legally are those obtaining refugee status. In France, for the last 25 years, several legislative provisions have defined the conditions under which an illegal immigrant can obtain permission to legally stay with a carte de séjour, by applying to the local prefecture. It does not even take a court ruling to obtain it. To put it somewhat provocatively, an illegal immigrant can risk being arrested, detained and ordered deported by the French police one day, and on the next day walk out of the Paris prefecture de police with a document guaranteeing the right to stay in France. My June 2018 column, called THE DREAMER!, goes into this further. Here is the first section:

I would like to describe the history and provisions of French policy regarding how undocumented aliens can become legal residents of France. This is by no means an attempt to take sides regarding the US policy known as deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) or what the rights of the ‘Dreamers’ should be. I just want to bring the French perspective to an issue all Western countries have: ‘What do you do with undocumented aliens who are already in the country?’

The authorities’ official and first answer is: ‘Deport them to their country of citizenship.’ This is the first thing to do because they have no right to be there. But we all know that there are many more who stay than are actually deported. Therefore, sooner or later another question arises, ‘Are there situations in which giving them legal status makes more sense than deporting them?’ In several countries, the answer is linked to the length of stay in the country.” 

I would remind my readers that legislation issued in 1997, called the circulaire Chevènement, resulted in 140,000 requests submitted right away, of which over half were approved. The regulation currently in effect, the circulaire Manuel Valls, was issued on November 28th, 2012, after the election of President Hollande, to address the situation under President Sarkozy. It allows undocumented aliens holding a job to get permission to stay legally after being in France three or five or seven years, depending on their work situation.

To take a situation that is similar in both countries: The COVID pandemic led to a shortage of workers willing to take some of the lowest-paying jobs. The solution drastically differs. In France, the current government, which is fairly conservative, is looking into loosening therégularisation requirements. Its position is that since low-wage positions are hard to fill and thus employers hire undocumented aliens who are willing to take them, making it easier for such workers to stay legally would help the businesses avoid prosecution. From a legal standpoint, this is insane: The government wants to protect businesses that break the law by hiring illegal immigrants because people who could legally take those jobs, including French people, do not want them. The alternative? Offer better wages and working conditions, which is basically what is happening in the USA.

In France, many conservative voters are against easier régularisation. They want the government to deport immigrants who are not in France legally, many of whom entered France by illegally crossing the French border. Hence the government is going against its electorate, but it must think the political risk is minuscule. After 25 years, the prefectures handle régularisation. procedures efficiently, and adding several more will not be a problem. The difference between the French and American approaches could not be more striking.

In recent months I have been contacted by several panicked clients who were convinced that their immigration card would be immediately taken away because they were no longer in compliance with the initial requirements.

The legal basis for this understanding makes sense, to a degree, and reveals a deep misunderstanding of the way the prefecture works. All the clients concerned held four-year cards with several months or even years before the expiration date. A common profile is that of a foreigner holding the status of travailleur hautement qualifié (carte bleue européenne) who is going to obtain private-life status. First and most obviously, only the prefecture and a court can rule on whether a carte de séjour is still valid. Even if it is not, does the foreigner have a claim on a different status? Here are the reasonable scenarios:

1 – The prefecture does nothing and the foreigner applies for a different status when the carte de séjour expires. As long as the file meets the requirements of the new status, there is never a problem. The logic is that the applicant defines which immigration status is being sought. That means it needs to be stated very clearly.

2 – For a variety of reasons, the prefecture may act on the fact that the person no longer qualifies for the old status and gives them an appointment. At the appointment, the foreigner brings a file proving that they qualify for something else, e.g., private-life status. In this case, the change of status occurs earlier, but there is still no problem.

3 – The foreigner does not qualify yet for a different status but is notified about an appointment, which then feels like a summons. Perhaps the person has been laid off and is receiving French unemployment benefits. On this basis alone – being unemployed and indemnified – the prefecture acknowledges that the person still has the right to work as an employee and thus the right to live in France, and the related carte de séjour will be issued.

I hope these three scenarios are sufficient to prove that foreigners’ fears in such cases are grounded in a major misunderstanding.

On the other hand, it is true that a residence permit can be taken away, for reasons that vary according to the type of permit. The person is then obliged to leave France, which often means being deported.

Here are some of the situations in which this might happen: 
– You are married to a French national and the relationship ended within four years of your marriage (unless the two of you had one or more children, in whose care and education you have been involved since their birth, or your spouse died or committed domestic violence). 
– In the context of family reunification, your relationship with your spouse was broken off within three years of the issuance of the card (except in the case of death or conjugal violence with a final sentence). 
– You are found to be living in a state of polygamy in France. 
– You are convicted of committing an act or acts of violence against a child under age 15, such as mutilation or violence resulting in permanent disability, or you were an accomplice to such acts. 
– You illegally employed a foreign worker. 
– You did not go to the prefecture appointments to verify that you still meet the conditions for the issuance of your residency card. 
– You have been deported or banned from French territory (interdiction du territoire français).
– You are found to be a threat to public order.

These situations can be considered felonies and taking away the right to live in France makes some sense.


The basic renovations are being done even as I prepare to send out this issue. They ran late, based on the initial schedule, but were early enough to have everything ready on time. The furniture, appliances and internet connection have been ordered and will be delivered during December. My daughter, Lucille, came up with the acronym SHIP for this project.

The first tenant is part of our inner circle and will be there long enough to test the place and give us an evaluation.

I already know I will not have much vacation after I close my office. Booking will be done through an extension of my website, which should be up and running early enough in December to get the first rental booked for February 1st. Payment will be accepted by wire transfer, PayPal and credit card. The monthly rent is 1,200€. The extension of my website will have pictures of the studio and its furniture and appliances so people know in advance what is available. There is a safe in the studio that the guests can use. There will also be some basic information about the neighborhood. Furthermore, there will be two walk-throughs at the beginning and the end of the rental. They each cost 150€, and the initial one includes a one-hour session with my assistant, Sarah, for advice and guidance to help with the stay, in addition to viewing the studio, its appliances and other things. I am focusing on practical things like public transport; the studio is served by several metro and bus lines and the RER A.

Presumably as a continuation of efforts to reduce the number of people entering the Paris prefecture headquarters on the Île de la Cité, fewer types of immigration status are now being reviewed at this office.

There have always been three branches of the prefecture dealing with specific types of immigration status. The location for student status has been moved around a lot over the years. Until recently it was located in a Cité Universitaire building on the southern outskirts of Paris. It is now handled in the Cité building.

The other two handled private life and renewal of the carte de résident. One is in northern Paris near the Barbès-Rochechouart metro station at 6 rue du Delta, 75009 Paris. The other is at 191 rue de Charenton, 75012 Paris, on the north side of the Gare de Lyon; the closest metro stop is Dugommier.

These places are much smaller than the Cité building but have managed to handle the large increase in work quite well. The renewal of employee (salarié) and self-employed (profession libérale and artisan-commerçant) status have now moved to them.

The same procedures apply as at the Cité: Do not come more than 15 minutes before the appointment time because you will not get in. Only people with an appointment can enter. The reception desk issues a number after confirming that the file is complete.

This is another problem stemming from the fact that many more files are being submitted online. Statements issued by the CPAM work well, as they are in French and show all the information needed. But many people still have private health insurance. If the company issues a statement in French about the policy, it is almost always fine if it gives the minimum information needed, such as the full name of the insured, the duration of the policy (beginning and end dates, linked to premium payments), a summary of the coverage and the name of the company and type of policy.

Recently my clients have increasingly had problems with health coverage issued by an American organization linked to their retirement. When we met with a civil servant at the prefecture, we could point out the obvious link between the retirement and health coverage statements. Also, the civil servants had become less and less inclined to demand that the documents be translated.

Now, with the online procedure, it is clear that people are not putting the two together, and the American entity may be unwilling to issue a different statement for the prefecture. Also, the prefecture now systematically asks that the documents be translated. Reminder: The applicant must comply with this requirement within 30 days or the file will be closed. To avoid serious stress and aggravation, make sure you pay close attention to your health insurance policy when you renew online.

The office will close for three weeks over the Christmas holidays, starting on Friday, December 16th in the evening and re-opening on the morning of Monday, January 9th. 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.


I need to start with some bad news. Yes, it is a deal breaker if you cannot prove that you have a French clientele waiting for you in France. The French administration follows this legal logic: The applicant already has their clientele waiting in France, so they deserve to obtain the related visa to start working for these clients. Put that way, it is indeed an absolute Catch-22 and impossible to meet.
The way to get out of it is to “invent” a French clientele. This is critical, especially with a business model like yours, where you need to secure ways for tourists to find you.
In my experience, someone ready to submit a request for this kind of visa has been to France several times and knows French people. Anyone will do. The business plan you submit needs to describe a wide range of activities. One obvious reason is that French law heavily regulates tour guide jobs. For example, the bond needed to start this activity is a minimum of 200,000€. French law only recognizes agencies with someone who has a professional license and is financially sound enough to handle reimbursements and lawsuits. French law does not recognize the individual walking the streets of Paris with a small group of tourists from one monument to the next. So the wide range of activities you specify should include being a teacher, a coach and a consultant. That way your French friends and acquaintances can state in writing that they need your teaching or coaching. Probably none of them will ever do it, but that is beside the point. The file now has statements that some people want to use your services once you are in France.
Even so, that will account for a small amount, insufficient to convince the French administration that your annual taxable income will be at least 16,000€. So your business plan should describe a package of services tailored for people spending their money in France, which de facto makes them a French clientele. You could have deals with hotels, restaurants, clothing shops, bakeries and so on. In the absence of signed contracts, you could show exchanges of emails envisioning future collaborations. Add those to your file and project how much money you could make this way, on top of the fees you will charge your clients. It may take a long time to get strong documentation. On the other hand, it will convince the French administration of the pertinence of the project. This file and its documents can describe a successful “French business” even if you feel it is 90% fake and looks more like a storyboard. The key is that the story it tells is believable, so that it works and you get your visa.

Keep in mind that an American tourist in Paris is a “French client” by virtue of consuming your service/product in France.
In short, the way look at all this is that you will have a French business because you will have “French clients” using your “French services/products” even though they mainly are American tourists staying in France for a short time.


Before explaining your choices and the merits of some possible solutions, let me make the most critical point: Yes, you must renew your visiteur immigration status. None of the other procedures will be handled fast enough for you to stay legal, and you cannot stay in France without valid immigration status. Keep in mind that this could give you and your employer a little more time to tailor your position to comply with a type of immigration status linked to an employee position.
The first point to make is that the prohibition against working in France that comes with thevisiteur immigration status only lasts two years. This means that when you renew your immigration status the second time, at the end of the second year of presence in France, you can safely submit a request to change your status. But since several passeport talent sub-categories allow the change to be asked for much earlier, as they are considered VIP status, you should find out if the job will allow you to change your status within the first year of residency in France.
Next, I need to review the different types of immigration status, then tell you which ones can give you this right.

French immigration legislation defines six categories and all of them have sub-categories:
– visiteur
– étudiant
– salarié
– vie privée & familiale
– commerçant & artisan
– passeport talent.

Under passeport talent there are ten sub-categories: 
– jeunes diplômés qualifiés salariés ou salariés d’une jeune entreprise innovante 
– travailleurs hautement qualifiés (carte bleue européenne)
– salariés en mission
– chercheurs
– créateurs d’entreprise
– porteurs d’un projet économique innovant
– investisseurs économiques
– mandataires sociaux
– artistes interprètes
– étrangers ayant une renommée nationale ou internationale (domaine scientifique, littéraire, artistique, intellectuel, éducatif ou sportif).
The salarié (employee) status will not work for you, regardless of where it was advertised, even if the French administration offered the job. I do not need to look at the specifics. The main reason is your one-year stay in France. So even if the French administration accepts to review the request, it has a veto right and therefore the chances of you being successful with this change are basically zero. The procedure would start with your potential employer requesting this status for you, but if the job only allows you to go through this procedure, most likely it is not impressive enough to overrule the guidelines and therefore it should be refused.
Certain passeport talent sub-categories offer a much better chance, for several reasons: a – They are considered VIP status so enforcement of the rules is a lot more lenient. b – The prefecture does 100% of the procedure and the right to work is embedded in the carte de séjour. c – The ideal one would be travailleurs hautement qualifiés (carte bleue européenne). The administration considers the level of qualification needed to qualify for this status to be so high that the normal guidelines do not apply. The minimum salary to comply is a yearly gross of 53,836€.
You now see how much depends on the specifics of the job. The other sub-categories could be reviewed if there is one better suited to the position.
Now you know what to do and especially what to avoid. In brief, make sure your prospective employer does not apply for salarié status for you. The administration will deny the request, the prefecture will be informed of the refusal and that will trigger a definitive termination of your right to live in France, although you might have a tiny chance of appealing the termination because your family lives in France.
In the meantime, I repeat, you must renew your visiteur immigration status.


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