Making a list, Checking it twice

It’s crazy to think last year at this time I was off in Brittany and the south of France working as a nanny, and here I am pumping out a business plan in the course of a month (apparently most people take a year or two to do this). Maybe I’ve been watching a bit too much So You Think You Can Dance lately but my life is starting to feel a bit like a reality show, and I’m down to the final elimination.

This month has been filled with new highs: producing an event + writing an article for a print magazine I really respect, getting to play an extra in a British tv pilot, and picking up wonderful new clients. It’s also been filled with challenges: finding a table to rent on a Friday afternoon at 4pm for a Saturday event (and then figuring out how to get said table around Paris with a little help from some fabulous friends), the assignment to write a 20-50 page Business Plan en français in order to get a new visa to stay in my “adoptive” country, and spending hours upon end running around collecting, scanning and printing documents (a half inch worth!) that may or may not exist for me.

Tomorrow at 9am I have my meeting at the Préfecture de Police to present my paperwork and 54-page Business Plan, in hopes of getting a new visa (a true upgrade from my student one – with an estimated 150-200 hours of work on top of an already full work load). The only things to get me through all this have been the wonderful support of friends (new and old, online and off) and a sense of humor. For your own entertainment, the full list of documents I will be presenting tomorrow is below. The finest in French bureaucracy!

  • Valid passport
  • Titre de séjour
  • Proof of housing + EDF bill (or else a housing certificate with a photocopy of landlord’s identity card… but what if your landlords are on holiday all month???)
  • Housing insurance
  • Birth certificate (certified translated into French for 50 Euros)
  • 4 photographs, with a “naked face”
  • Last tax declaration (this form took me 2 hours with the help of 2 employees racking their brains as I’m too new in the system to have declared)
  • Form #13473*01, completed (this form talks like you’re a giant enterprise, which is ironic given this status has a salary cap!)
  • Declaration of honor of non-condamnation and non-failite in your home country and all countries you have lived in the past 10 years (turns out this is a form they give you, which I was not given on my first visit)
  • Presentation of project aka 20-50 page “Le Business Plan” (given a 10 page document explaining expectations in an extremely disorganized fashion – my goal is that the Préfecture wants to hire me after my presentation! I have the goal of winning the award for best designed Business Plan in the history of France.)
  • Résume + diplomas (accompanied by their translation in French)
  • [insert something that really doesn’t apply to me]
  • Attestation from the bank that you are in good standing (I had to submit the request for this with a handwritten note, and it took me over a week and 3 visits to the bank to get it)
  • Copy of business rental agreement or “attestation de domicilation”
  • [insert something that doesn’t apply to me]
  • Declaration of debut of activity as an auto-entrepreneur
  • Notification of affiliation as auto-entrepreneur with URSSAF (this was another fun document as it won’t be ready for me for another 3 months)
  • INSEE certificate with SIRENE number
  • Attestation de régularité after RAM (something else that won’t be ready for another 3 months, so I have some sort of form that works – hopefully!)

What? No medical exams or health documents? Clearly someone didn’t come up with an even crazier list! OY VEY! Vive la France!

As for Plan B? Let’s hope there’s no need for that! Croissez les doigts!!!!

UPDATE: One month after that visit to pick up my “carte de séjour” (the document that validates one’s visa), I was informed “as you know, you must return every three months to re-validate this “récepissee” (paper renewal). My jaw dropped. I would not recommend anyone trying to stay in France to do it on this “auto-entrepreneur” visa. As a lawyer type later told me, “What they put you through is living hell and they will do everything they can to de-rail you.” Seek expert advice when planning on staying in France.

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