November 10, 2008

French Citizenship Update

About ten days ago I took another trip to Béziers for a haircut and a stop at the Centre Hobson to drop off my parent's birth and marriage certificates for official translation. Not just anyone can translate documents in the official capacity, only government certified translators can. Which is fair enough. A bit pricey though, at €40 a page.
The funny (i.e. annoying) thing is, it would be cheaper if I were from the UK, as American English is considered a dialect, so they charge about 20% more for a spécialiste du dialecte.
No, I'm not joking.

Five years ago we gave Madame Hobson plenty of business as she did all of the translations for our first cartes de séjours. She's wonderful to work with; warm and friendly and works quickly and efficiently.
She looked over my new sheaf of papers and made a few notes, then told me how happy she was to hear that I loved living in France and that I wanted to become a French citizen. I left her office with a smile on my face.

The translations were ready last Tuesday. Madame Hobson kindly only charged €20 a page, as birth and marriage certificates are mostly names and dates, thus easy translation work. We had a nice chat about American politics and how I might get past the brick wall that has become my ability to progress with the French language (she advised reading more in French) and sent me on my way with encouraging words about my upcoming citizenship process.


The big news: the sous-préfecture in Béziers has decided to let those of us applying for citizenship to make an appointment and bring our dossiers directly to them instead of having to turn it in at the local level, in my case the village mayor's office . They found that upwards of 80% of the dossiers were being returned due to numerous reasons so they decided to make it easier for everyone involved.
The mayor's secretary gave me a phone number to call and miracle of miracles, an actual human being answered the first time I called and gave me an appointment for November 24.

I've got my apostilles, I've got my translations, I've got my casier judiciaire.
I am ready. Pin It

27 comments:

Alison said...

Woo-hoo! Yay!

And I would say that in addition to reading in French, watching French TV can be a great help. Especially those variety-type shows. And the news. And Wheel of Fortune, if you can get past the cheese factor.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Brilliant :-)...at last a bit of sense in France...taking your dossiers directly to them ...and you got your appointment straight away....Hip Hip Hooray

wcs said...

It's that alien abduction thing. See, it worked out.

martha said...

All the best Luck - I'm half-way through the same process here in Estonia. It's a lot of work and there are many who refuse to understand why I'm doing it. It sounds like you have become 'French enough' to understand the system. Good for you.

martha said...

All the best Luck - I'm half-way through the same process here in Estonia. It's a lot of work and there are many who refuse to understand why I'm doing it. It sounds like you have become 'French enough' to understand the system. Good for you.

Ksam said...

oooh, good luck!!

spacedlaw said...

Sounds good. Could it be that they suddenly feel more motivated?
Good luck.

john said...

Nice of Madame to say that.
Hope it all goes well from now on.

Loulou said...

alison
Yes, YAY! :)
We don't have French TV anymore so I have to rely on the radio. I try to read the news online in French too.

anne
Yes, they finally smartened up. Finally!

wcs
I think you're right Fox.

martha
Good luck to you too! I hope it will be over for you soon. Please keep me updated on your status.

ksam
Thanks! You too!

spacedlaw
I have no idea. I doubt it though. :)

john
she was very, very nice. I hope for some smooth sailing from here.

Veronica said...

>>The funny (i.e. annoying) thing is, it would be cheaper if I were from the UK, as American English is considered a dialect, so they charge about 20% more for a spécialiste du dialecte.
No, I'm not joking.<<

wow! That's amazing! Just as well you found a nice translator. Our official translator made me illegitimate by getting my parents' marriage date wrong ... by about 30 years :-( Heck, they were divorced by then!

>>The mayor's secretary gave me a phone number to call and miracle of miracles, an actual human being answered the first time I called and gave me an appointment for November 24.<,

YAY! That's brilliant news. I hope it all goes smoothly from now on and that you are soon reading your "personal" letter from M Sarkozy welcoming you into the bosom of the French nation:-)

Re the French, reading is good (newspapers, novels, magazines). And even if you can't get French TV, hire or buy some DVDs of modern French films. I think there does come a point where you reach a plateau and don't seem to be progressing, but really your brain is digesting it all and it's just a matter of increasing comfort and familiarity. Bon courage!

Allie said...

That is fabulous! Congratulations!

Lori said...

Just found your blog last week and I loved this post. I'm a US ex-pat in Brazil. I found a lot I could relate too. Ha, ha! What a price for translation. That is crazy!

Best wishes for continuing with your French. I hope to learn it one day, but right now I am struggling with my Portuguese. I've received the same advice with reading and watching TV.

Looking forward to reading more of your blog!

The Beaver said...

Wow!!! It is expensive.
I did mine last yr here in Montreal - just the birth certificates of my parents ( from English to French) as well as mine and it costs me CAN$ 25 per certificate.
Delivered everything to the consulate in September 2007 and got my citizenship last May. The main delay in my process was getting the birth certificate of the grand-parents of my husband and the in-laws from different parts of France. Some were easier than others ( on-line request versus snail mail to the mairie)

Dale said...

I would have thought that all ex pats who thought Obama would save America would be packing up and heading home to the new paradise!!

You would rather have Sarkowsli over Obama??

Loulou said...

Veronica
The translator is wonderful! However, I think I better check and make sure that all of the dates are correct after reading about your little problem.
I've reached a plateau in learning French and can't seem to get past it. If there were a place to rent DVDs around here, I would. Maybe some of the DVDs we own have French language versions and I should watch them. Good idea!

Allie
Thanks! Fingers crossed that I've got everything they need. I think I do, but they seem to change the rules so often that you just never know.

Lori
Welcome and thanks for commenting. I look forward to reading your sites! Portuguese looks like a very difficult language but living in Brazil must be amazing.

beaver
wow, that was fast! The Consulate tells us that it takes up to 18 months in France, but people who have gone through the process have told me anywhere from 2-6 years!

Oh Dale, what are we going to do with you?
I have never said that I moved to France because of Bush so why would I move back because I am happy about Obama? Even though it will be paradise...
The French President's name is SARKOZY, not Sarkowsli.

Barrie Garfinkel said...

Dale -
Why would I want to return to the States? YOU still live there. For your information - France is the perfect place to retire to.

Betty C. said...

Hope all goes well! It is a strange feeling when that final decision is made.

Dale said...

we are set for our 6th trip to France next April - yes we dream of spending alot of our year there as we love it as we do much of Europe - maybe Loulou and Barrie would let us bunk with them a few weeks to share expenses!!! We could have some spirited debates I am sure!!

Loulou said...

Barrie
You are right, France is the perfect place to retire. If only they didn't consider me retired and would let me work!

Betty
Thanks. I still have a long wait I'm afraid, but it will all be worth it.
If only I had married a Frenchman, this would be so much easier. (said for my husband's benefit as I know he'll read this - just kidding mon chou)

Dale
Enjoy your next trip. You'll see how happy the French are with the recent election results.
Yes, I'm sure we would have some very interesting debates! :)

Pumpkin said...

Vilay and I are going to start my application soon. I am nervous about how much all the paperwork will cost us and the time to get all the paperwork together but I am excited to finally start the process.

Thank you for sharing all your adventures in asking for the French citizenship. It is nice to see what the process is and gives me hope that I will get through it in one piece. :)

Loulou said...

Pumpkin
It was more expensive than I thought it would be. All the ordering of birth certificates and apostilles and translations and and and. :)
But it will probably be easier (and possibly less expensive) for you with a French husband.
Good luck!!! Please keep me posted on your progress.

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

bon chance!

Loulou said...

Merci njnrr!

Anonymous said...

Hi - I've been reading your progress in tandem with going through my own application slog.
Finally got the interview with the gendarmerie last month, that was a perfectly tolerable experience, and thought the two years (!) of preparation was finally over - the endless document requests from the US, the translations, the financial statements from my work in France (I've lived here for 13+ years already!), and I thought I was just going to wait for the letter in the mail as to whether I would get approved or not.
Well, the letter came today - and it was just a request for MORE INFORMATION! Argh! Last year's income statement (which I don't even have yet, of course), my husband's last payment slip (huh?), my most recent electricity bill (we've been in the same place for 12 years, do they think we're going to suddenly move...?).
I had finally become positively inclined toward the little lady at our sous-prefecture once she told me my dossier was complete last November - now I'm wondering whether she has it out for me. Has anyone heard of this - the demand for an additional year of information after the dossier was considered complete?
BTW, I speak pretty good French, but neither my husband nor I have any French ancestry. And no, no criminal records or problems of any kind. I just don't get this extension of the dossier...
Pretty frustrating.

Loulou said...

Anon
OH NO! Such discouraging news. I truly feel for you.
I doubt it is the lady at the sous-préfecture...she probably was given a list of more documents to ask for...et voilà, you have another hurdle to jump.
I've never heard of this. But it seems like everyone's experience is different.

Good Luck! Hang in there and please let me know what happens.
Do you have a name, by the way? :)

Paula said...

Hi - Thanks for the sympathy! Yes, I do have a name - Paula.
The whole dossier thing is very frustrating - I actually believed them when they told me it was complete. It's the first time I've heard of them asking for more after the interview, and then they asked for the same stuff they already had, just for one more year on top of the five or so years of info they've already received. The documentation - tax returns, etc. - they need is stuff I have to get from my accountant and from the Tresor Public, and normally wouldn't be ready until April or so, and I'm wondering if it's just a delaying tactic, or what. I suppose they want to make sure I won't be a burden to the French state, but as I have already filed returns for the past 13 years, it does seem a bit odd.
Very annoying.

Loulou said...

Paula
Any updates to your situation?
I would love to hear how things are coming along for you.