Could it be! A French work visa that is… shall we dare to say it… easy to get? That is if you find a company to sponsor you and you’re willing to deal with a couple months of stress. No biggie.
When I was here on a student visa and even now, a pretty common question among expats is, how are you here? There’s always a mark of jealousy/understanding when someone says they have a double passport. But then your ears perk up when you hear- ah ha, you’re American, and here on a work visa! How could this be so?
Here’s my story: Last summer, yish almost a full year ago now, I was in Paris helping my French friends open a Mexican restaurant, and then later in the South of France to volunteer at Chateau de Gudanes. In between all of that, I was frantically looking for jobs in Paris that would allow me to return and continue to learn in my new career field. For me this included English-speaking, cooking related jobs from cooking schools to American/French bakeries.
In my back pocket I had a visa I had talked with my friend Melissa about- the Jeune Professionnel Visa.
- A temporary work visa
- Applicable for Americans ages 18-35
- You can have a company sponsor you (the sure way of getting this visa) or ask the FACC to help you find a post (not sure how that works but I saw it on the forms (I would think the best way to ensure that you have a job is to find one yourself)).
- The initial contract/visa is for one year, and renewable up to 6 months after that.
- You can only get this visa once (ever) (doesn’t matter if it’s with a different company).
- The company does not have to pay an outrageous amount of money for you to get the visa, just 72 euros in taxes.
- Admissions is rolling, meaning you can apply at anytime.
- Expect the full process to take 2 months, but allow 3 just in case!
Essentially this visa allows students and recent American graduates to go to France to train in their respective field. The BIG thing here is that as it is a temporary work visa, so the company does not have to prove that there is not a single French person that can take the job or pay a ton of fees. Both of which are massive hurdles faced with a permanent French work visa.
So every company that I thought might be a fit, I wrote a personal email, explaining who I was, my experience, and that I could actually get a visa (with their help) pretty easily.
In June, I left Paris after hustling the full month of May to hopefully, hopefully find something, with two possible job offers. One was with an American bakery, another a cooking school that taught tourists French specialties in English. I had no idea which way I wanted to go especially when I had been previously working in a pastry shop in Dallas.
The first week at the Chateau it was a lot of communication and crossed fingers before I hopped on a 6 hour train to go back to Paris for a trial day at the bakery and hopefully another interview at the school. Then fate intervened, the bakery fell through and a second interview at the school was landed and was a success. A week later and I had an offer and a whole lot of paperwork to do.
Here’s what was needed to complete the application as of 2015, that was sent to me by the FACC Office in NYC when I emailed them. You can also find out more about the Jeune Professionnel Visa (American Trainees in France Visa) on their website.
Documents needed from the host company in France:
– Four completed simplified work contracts, attached (Note: four forms are required, each form signed in pen by the visa applicant and signed and stamped by the host company. Photocopied signatures will not be accepted.)
– Completed Engagement de Versement, attached
Documents needed from you, the candidate:
– The Fiche de Candidature, attached
– Completed “Engagement de Retour”, attached
– Current resume in French
– Current resume in English
– Cover letter in French (i.e. lettre de motivation)
– 2 passport sized photos
– Proof of previous employment or internships (e.g. a brief letter from a previous employer on letterhead)
– Copy of university diploma or transcript
– Copy of the six first pages of your valid U.S. passport
– Completed American Young Professional Request Form, attached
– US$150 check payable to “OFII” (this can be a personal check)
Totally not a problem right? Except I was in France and a lot of the things I needed, like um my US checkbook, were well, in the US! So a slightly frantic message to my lil sis and a couple days later some very necessary documents were making their way to the Chateau- where the mailbox was seriously- Chateau de Gudanes and the town it’s located in, no street address or number. So yes, it was kinda a hail mary- let’s see if it makes it kinda move.
And it did! Just as we were starting a workshop and things were crazy hectic. But I set aside a couple hours, filled everything out, organized it in order on the massive table made out of wood from the grounds, and then walked down to town to find a photocopy machine, because as with any French paperwork you send off the originals and you make absolutely sure you have a copy just in case.
Did I mention the town had a population of 345 people with a post office, tobacco shop, boulangerie, little grocery store, and two restaurants?
The only copy machine that I could use was at the tobacco shop. So in between ringing up people she would scan and print a page- there were more than 30 pages…
Then coincidentally enough it was off to NYC to the French American Chamber of Commerce there that handles the dossiers. Then we hit a snag- the company and I had forgotten to fill something out on the contract, so back it went to France. Where luckily I intercepted it in Paris, was able to fill it out with my company and send it back once again to NYC.
They took a quick peek and then it was back off to France and the waiting began. Or should I say the stress began? I flew back to the US, and what started was two brutal months of biting my fingernails, having butterflies in my stomach and watching the days tick off as we got closer and closer to the day I was supposed to be starting my job in Paris.
About two weeks to go and I was getting super nervous. My visa contact started emailing the France OFII people and I started trying to call on a daily basis without much luck. Then I called the Houston Visa office- no luck either. Then I had a French friend try calling a couple of times for me. You might sense the desperation here.
There was a week of this and finally some news. The dossier was still with La DIRECCTE (think of them as the big scary people who approve things in France) but… the approved paperwork was supposed to be received at the OFII in a couple days! weee! Relief- or so I thought.
More waiting. Checking in with people- and nothing. More than a week passes and the date I’m supposed to be starting in Paris comes and goes. The ‘couple of days’ turns into almost two weeks before I hear that the paperwork is officially officially approved.
This is confirmed by my French consulate in Houston calling to let me know that they have my documents and to come in to finalize everything. This involved making an appointment online and bringing in:
- Your valid US passport, it must be valid beyond 7 months of your contract end date and have at least 3 blank pages
- 1 photocopy of the first page of your passport
- 1 passport sized photo
- 1 long stay visa application (found on the website)
- Demande d’attestation OFFI (found on the website)
- 99 euros or the equivalent in US dollars paid by cash or credit card
So I drove 4 hours to Houston the following morning starting the trip at 6am to be there in time for my appointment. This time I felt like a pro and instead of waiting to be called, I went straight up to the window, handed over the documents, got my picture taken, and voila!
Then to wait for them to put the visa in my passport! Since this could take up to a week (I have no idea why), I headed back to Dallas.
A couple days later and I received a phone call- it was ready! I immediately booked my plane ticket and started the drive back down to Houston.
Naturally they aren’t open after 12 each day so I spent the night at a friends and then went first thing in the morning to pick it up and make the drive back to Dallas, pack, and hop on a plane!
And there we go! Two months of stress for one of the least painful work visas to go to France. I was about a month late to getting to France but I made it!
Once here you do a medical visit with the OFFI- it’s not that bad. Eye exam (look at a chart and say the letters), they take your weight, and then there’s a chest x-ray. Yup a little odd but really it’s over in a second.
I always tell people that France really makes you work for it if you want to come here. I call it their weeding out process.
Double check your paperwork!
Make copies just in case!
Take Yoga! hehe
Here is a link to information on the US FACC NYC site: American Trainees in France Visa
And information on the French website: Jeunes Professionnels
Living abroad has it’s high points (pastries, baguettes, wine!) and it’s low points (taxes, paper work, paper work, bureaucracy, paper work). Most of the times I credit the incredible network of friends that I have here for getting me through so many of the obstacles that there are including… French Taxes.
Did it bring chills to your heart just as it did for me?
This year I had the privilege of doing not just my US Taxes (it doesn’t matter that I’m officially living in France), but my French taxes as well. Both completely different with utterly different due dates. One of which I completely put from my mind until about a month before when I was talking to Laura and she said, oh hey Molly, don’t forget, French taxes are due on May 18th (I love my friends). ah ha! I said- not a problem! I have no idea how to do them but I have a couple of weeks to figure it out. Laura said- umm how about I send you the links I used and the website where you can find your local tax office. And by the way, for you Molly, wink wink, they’re due on the 1st. ha ha! Do my friends know me well.
Me getting my taxes done went a little something like this (side note, my days off from work are Wednesday-Thursday so that’s when I get all of these fun things done):
Wednesday, May 4th– Well, I’ve passed the “Molly Deadline” eh not really feeling it, I’ll do it tomorrow.
Thursday, May 5th– ah hey Jenni! I’m going to go do my taxes at the Services des Impots after yoga today. pause erm Molly, it’s a holiday….
May 11-12– Bruges trip! yippee! I’ll just do my taxes when I get back. No worries!
Friday, May 13th– Panic attack, omg they’re due on Wednesday! Uber to my local tax center, the Services des Impots, with all my paperwork during my hour long lunch break to find there is a massive bee swarm happening by the office and it’s closed because it’s… you guessed it…isn’t a holiday, but it was a holiday the day before…
Monday, May 16th– Resigned to the fact that I’ll probably just have to do them on Wednesday, the day they’re due, and pray that all goes well.
Wednesday, May 18th– Tax Due Date! Wake up throughout the night. Make it to the Services des Impots by 9:30am.
The place was smelly with BO and hot. A single bead of sweat went down my back as I passed the security guard. Two people in front of me in the line?! What luck! Five minutes later and it was my turn.
Bonjour Monsieur, est-ce que vous pouvez m’aider avec mes impots?
The very unlucky Monsieur in French, you know that they are due today right? Would you like me to speak in English?
I said, sure! Thank you!
And thus commenced the easiest taxes I’ve ever done in my life with the tax guy that insisted on speaking in English with me, got covered in sweat in the process, and would not switch back to French even as I politely tried to change it back by responding in French to every question in an attempt to save his shirt.
I was handed a three page form and pointed the particular sections I needed to fill out: name, address, the usual. And then a pause, a grimace- do you have proof of your housing? Because we will need it today. You can return later with it.
And out comes my massive French paperwork binder with my whole life in it. (ah I am so prepared! even though I’m doing it on the day it’s due!) Would you like my housing contract and proof of housing insurance? Work contract? Passport? I got it all! Massive look of relief and I was pointed to a seating area where I filled out the necessary form in a matter of 5 minutes, returned to the desk, he looked it over, and it was done, in 10 minutes…! Seriously.
I left wanting to do a little jig and call everyone I know to say- ha! I win!
So much different than what I would lovingly experience with my US taxes a mere month later (expats have an extension until June), where I was up until 3 in the morning, cross-eyed, trying to decipher sentences like:
If line 38 and the number of days in your 2015 tax year (usually 365) are the same, enter “1.000”. Otherwise, divide line 38 by the number of days in your 2015 tax year and enter the result as a decimal. Multiply line 37 by line 39, then subtract line 36 from line 27.
Long story short- procrastination paid off this time… for my French taxes. Or rather, it didn’t bite me in the butt.
French Tax Resources/Info:
The first year doing it here I had to go into an office, but next year, I should be able to just login online!
One last note: Was it easy? oh ya! And luckily I shouldn’t really owe anything this year. Next year though, I’ll probably owe the equivalent of a month’s pay check. ouch!
A couple of months ago, I was talking to my friend Cara about how I really wanted to take advantage of my days off during the week and take mini vacations to different places in France or beyond. It took absolutely no convincing and two suggestions on places to go and we were already looking at hotels and dates. Cara sent me 10 hotel options, of practically all I loved, and in a matter of a work day hour, it was planned. Bruges. The hotel Cara had stayed at before with her man and a city I had long wanted to discover.
Side story: Cover your ears mom, but the plan had been to visit it on a day trip back when I went to Brussels two years ago, but the Beer tour the night before completely changed my morning plans. Continue Reading →
Imagine a Strawberry Shortcake in a layered cake format and you’re just about there. Introducing the Strawberry Rosemary Charlotte!
After snagging an entire plaque of strawberries I got to baking in the kitchen of the lovely home in the 16th arrondissement I was watching.
Whipped cream infused with rosemary mixed with fresh strawberry puree and whole strawberries to make a mousse and encased with handmade and pipped lady fingers. Then all of this is topped with a little lady finger hat and more fresh strawberries.
Let’s take a peak inside shall we!
oh Spring do I love thee!
As the interior mousse can be made with any kind of fruit puree this one is great to have at any season- Pear Charlotte? Apple Charlotte? ohhh ya!
A quick hour train ride away from Paris and I felt like I was in another country and it was exactly as I expected. Cows, fields of green grass, and an immediate downpour of rain. I was in Normandy for the first time and breathing in as much fresh air as I could fill my lungs with!
I had been invited to join the last two days of the Fabulous Feast in Normandy Trip organized by Delicious Connections to photograph their exciting adventures!
The rain shower had just let up when the whole van of food discoverers pulled up at the train station in Le Mans to pick me up, complete with a huge grin from the owner of the Chateau where we were staying, Charles-Henry, and long time friend of Patricia’s, the owner of Delicious Connections. Regaled with stories of the countryside and the winery they had just visited nearby, we made our way back to Chateau de Saint Paterne, a family owned little hotel in the most magnificent setting.
Traditionally French with a gorgeous yard, fabulous food, and access to Normandy and the Loire valley, it is a wonderful place to stay- I might have been dancing in circles in our room and lounging outside to catch some much needed sun that would peek through the clouds every once and awhile.
The next morning we were off to the market in nearby town Alencon and there was just something about it! I’d visited several markets before but this one felt really special. It was bustling with locals doing their daily shopping and I think we were they only ‘tourists’ there. The produce was outstanding, covered in dirt from the fields, lush rich healthy colors, and incredible quality. A quaint little market that was everything you imagined one would be in the French countryside.
oh how I wished I lived nearby so I could have bought eggs from this lady! Best advertising ever!
And then there was the apple guy, with crates upon crates of different varieties of apples and bottles of cider.
With our knowledgeable guide, Charles-Henry, we picked up produce for a cooking class and the meals they would be cooking at the Chateau for the next few days.
Then it was off to explore the city, including this cute chocolate shop, Chocolats Glatigny.
There we tried a regional specialty, a chocolate with a ganache center and a hard meringue shell.
The next stop was a lovely little town for lunch. In France there is a designation of “les Plus Beaux Villages en France,” and this one was most certainly beautiful! It was made ever so sweet too by the clear skies that awaited us after dodging thunderous rain and hail(!) on the drive over.
Lunch was at a little cafe that had been around for quite awhile. After we’d finished eating, our waiter motioned us upstairs where he showed us artwork that had been painted directly on the walls by starving artists to pay for their meals.
The afternoon ended with a cooking class in the family’s private kitchens at the Chateau where we learned how to make (and flambe with Calvados) apple chicken in cider, a vegetable torte encased in cabbage leaves, and a frozen meringue and cream dessert called Vacherin that was customary to the region.
The cherry on top was that the meal we prepared was served to all the guests at dinner that night!
Here is the recipe we made for dessert. The finished dessert tasted much like ice cream and is great to make-ahead and keep in the freezer for any occasion. A special thanks to Delicious Connections, and Charles-Henry and Ségolène de Valbray of Chateau de St. Paterne for the recipe.
VACHERINS MAISON ST. PATERNE
4 large meringues with almonds (either purchased or made at home- each meringue should be about 6 inches in diameter)
1 cup crème fraîche
4 eggs (pasteurized)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a bowl, mix the egg yolks, crème fraîche, sugar and vanilla.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold gently into the egg mixture.
Crush the meringues into big pieces and add them to the above preparation. You might not use all of the meringue, just watch the consistency. Any extra meringue is great to serve with the finished dessert.
Put in the freezer in crown molds (round molds) and serve with chocolate sauce or a red fruit coulis.
It was such a wonderful trip and I’m so thankful to Delicious Connections for having me along!