Monday, October 18, 2010

Third time's the charm...

....or so I had always heard.

And so it has been with this, my third battle with the gods-that-be in the immigration offices of Europe.

When I moved to France, it all happened so quickly. In my first (very confusing) days of cultural immersion, with paper work, and shouting, (and of course, lots of wine) I found myself at the préfecture, the seat of the local government.

I remember bringing my file with every piece of paper I could find in my closet/apartment (we're talking plane ticket stubs, copies of my passport, a note my mom had written me), sitting in the small office, and digging through my stash, trying to find all the documents Madame needed.

Three months later, my visa was about to expire, my health care and housing allowance (both contingent on a worker's permit) were non-existent, and my stress level was very high. If you had walked into the La Rochelle préfecture in December of 2008, about a week before Christmas, you would have seen a panicked American, pleading in her best french for something, anything really, that would make her a legitimate French resident, and at the very least, gain her entry back into the country after she visited her family over the holidays.

Literally, hours before I boarded the train to Charles de Gaulle, I got my permit.

Last year, I decided to take the same fighting spirit that had landed me my titre de sejour a year earlier to the Luxembourg Ministry of Immigration.  

...expect it was worse than before. I was in perpetual Kafka-esque immigration limbo, my afternoons spent with my ear glued to the phone, transferred from one desk to the next. One lady even laughed at me before telling me I had done everything wrong. I was illegal for a week before I got the call that granted me my legitimacy in this small country.

But this year? This year, I sent in the paperwork, I waited patiently, and, in two to three weeks, I received my letter that my documents were cleared. And today? Today I went to the city, letter and passport in hand. And the woman? She looked at me, smiled. And put my visa sticker in my passport.
 Ah, look at that beautiful mug shot

The third time around, there were no frustrated tears, no frantically-looking-through-my-dictionary-to-translate-this-stupid-official-letter, no pleading with the person in the immigration office.

There was just a nice lady, a sweet smile, a new visa, and a cafe au lait at the corner cafe to celebrate.

No comments: