A queue that stretched along the street wasn’t what I expected when I turned up for my interview for a carte de séjour on Monday. I’d imagined my appointment was for just for me.
I was wrong.
I’m applying for a carte de séjour as the partner of an EU national – Damon was granted Irish citizenship last year. Hopefully, that means I should get a five-year visa straight off.
With Brexit – unfortunately – fast approaching, the time has come to régularise my position, as the French would say.
I checked the website of the préfecture for the Nord département a few months back. It said I’d need to come in as this was my first application. I clicked on the button to make an appointment and was offered 8.30 on Monday 13 January.
I received confirmation and told to be there 15 minutes in advance, so I could get through security. The interview would take an hour, they said.
An hour? What was I going to talk about for an hour?
Anyway, a lifetime of waiting later – patience isn’t always my strong suit – the day of my interview came around. After a sleepless night, I was up and out in time to be there for 8.15.
As I rounded the corner, I realised my error.
More than 100 people stood in the queue in front of the building. It was clear we’d be seen on a first-come, first-served basis.
Finally, I was seen at 11.00 – but my interview didn’t take an hour. It barely lasted two minutes.
I started to explain that I was British…
“Oh yes, I hear your pretty accent,” the woman behind the counter interrupted, smiling.
She then took my passport, photocopied it and told me to send in my documents… to the very office I was stood in. When I said I had them with me and started to pass them across the counter, she nudged them back.
“Good,” she said. “Please post them to us.”
And that was that. My big interview was nothing of the sort – but at least I have begun the process, even if it is one I hoped never to have to do.
Now the waiting really begins.