A ce moment, I am well settled in my wonderful three storied house (actually a palace, trust me) which is spacious, open and warm. I have incredible housemates – Italian, American and French – who are kind, helpful and smart. They’re also fabulous cooks, so we often find ourselves in the kitchen laughing/assisting/tasting/eating/chatting. We all have our own schedules and routines which means none of us get in each other’s way + we get on great so all in all I really lucked out!
Two months later, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that finding a house you’re happy with is of utmost importance. You need to know that no matter how your day has been – forgetting your French mid way through an important conversation, losing your way, sticking out like a sore thumb in your school where everyone looks at you and whispers ‘new girl’, eating by yourself, feeling lost and alone in this big, bad world – you can go back to the comfort of this familiar space and feel okay again. En plus, do not discount the cold. It can suck the life out of you – especially if you’re from the South of India like I am and have been spoilt with tropical weather your whole life. On most days as I am walking through the biting cold, I count the steps until chez moi and literally burst through the door with joy knowing I am finally home.
Here are the documents you need to have ready before you apply for your visa :
(*these are emailed to you from the Embassy)
The aforementioned are more or less what you are told you need to submit. However, this varies from city to city (depending on the Consulate). In Hyderabad (under the Consulate of Bangalore) I was also asked for a cover letter, my bank statements (last 3 months), my CV, a copy of my degree. Please carry all of these just in case to avoid any sort of delay at the time of submission (I had the most unpleasant experience and spent a very frustrating 5 hours with all of this).
The visa fees are wavered for all assistants, however, you might have to pay VFS charges/handling charges. Again, this depends on which city you live in – some didn’t end up paying anything, whereas in Hyderabad, I paid about Rs. 1945.
My passport (along with my visa – issued ‘France sauf CTOM – type D’) was returned in 8 days.
Guess, I’m really going to France then! Oui!
The arrêté de nomination aka the appointment letter from your respective académies start coming in sometime in the last week of June (via email or via courier and eventually, both). However, many assistants also receive them as late as early/mid August so don’t be alarmed. Usually, someone from your school contacts you in advance to inform you that you will be working there and the actual arrêté takes it own sweet time to reach you.
(Note : Most teachers/admin in France are on vacation during this period which means you are not likely to get prompt responses to your many queries and frantic emails)
Either way…once you know which school/schools you are assigned to, you can then begin your hunt for un logement aka that distant and unattainable dream. Some schools offer accommodation for assistants (you lucky people, you know who ya’ll are) whereas others don’t.
Here are some choices you have to make :
For logement :
Tips for the same :
If you find a house before you reach France, c’est merveilleux pour vous! However, you can always check-in to a hotel for a few days and look for a place once you get there. Both methods have been tried, tested and recommended so don’t lose hope, mon ami(e)!
At some point, you will need to apostille your birth certificate (not mandatory but highly recommended). This is one of those procedures that seem daunting even before you start…
To begin, it helps to know what an apostille is : It is a form of authentication issued to documents for use in other countries (thanks google). So in other words, it deems it a legal and valid source of proof, something that will definitely come in handy for all your official work in France (banking, housing etc).
Your birth certificate must have two stamps at the end of it : one from The General Administration Department (state) and one from The Government of India (centre)
Step 1 : Locate a place you can get this done in your city
Every city should have a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MEA) office – the address is not always listed so you can look for contact details on http://www.mea.gov.in/other-offices.htm. You can also contact an agency who will take the load off your hands and just do everything for you (be sure to check how much they will charge you for it though) – Superb Enterprises http://superbenterprisesindia.com/contactus.asp.
Step 2 : Documents
This should be a notarized document – basically meaning it should be stamped by an Advocate/Notary. In case you don’t have this stamp, you can just google ‘Notary service near me’ and get it done for around Rs.50)
Step 3 : Fill a form
If all your documents are in order, you are given a form that you fill out. Next, this form along with all the aforementioned documents (except your original passport, that’s for you to take back home) are taken to be stamped by the General Administration Department of your State. This usually takes one day so they ask you to come back.
Step 4 : Copies and postal order
Once the state stamps your birth certificate, you need to take a copy of it. You also need to get a Postal Order of Rs.50 that you can find in a Post office or a Notary service shop (the latter takes a few extra bucks as their ‘fee’). Next, you go back to the same place and submit everything and this time all your documents are given to the people behind the MEA government of India counter. You are asked to return the next day.
Step 5 : Collect + feel a sense of relief
Collect your birth certificate and check the back of it – there should be a stamp/apostille in addition to your state stamp. Et voilà c’est tout!
Total cost : Rs. 500 (that you pay via the demand draft in step 2)
Total visits to the office : 2-3 days