Apéros on the deck chez nous soon after we arrived last summer.
Not long now. Until our visa application meeting that is. It's on Monday, 14th February. Getting it over with will be the best Valentine's gift to each other, ever, I think.
For the last few days the dining room has been under a sea of paperwork as we gathered together all the documents we will need to take with us to the meeting.
The application form, passports, extra passport photos, a declaration of purpose of our stay, decalration of our socio-economic situation, marriage, divorce and birth cerificates, bank statements both French and English, proof of income, proof of ownership of our French house, French utility bills, proof of health insurance.
Every item has to be provided in original forms and with photocopies. Each of us has to have a copy of everything in our own dossier. No doubt having done it once and, hopefully, succeeded in being granted a visa, next time will be easier. At least we haven't had to do it all in French!
The visa itself will cost us £117 each. We have opted for a six month visa and this will allow us to spend up to 180 days in France over a nine month period. This is because the Schengen allowance is on top of the visa period.
I was pleased to see this confirmed in actual words on the Government website here:
The relevant paragraph says this:
· if you stay in France with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit
On top of the cost of the visas we have spent another £80 or more on certified copies of marriage certificates as we couldn't find the originals. Another £38 on photographs, passport style. (We weren't happy with the first set so got a second set done, just in case.)
All this so that we can come and go to France and live in our French house just as we did PB (Pre-Brexit).
We are hugely grateful to our friend Gaynor who paved the way for us in being the first of our friends to go through this process. She gave us many hints, tips and pointers. We are also very grateful for the people who write a couple of facebook pages on owning a second home in France and how to avoid the pitfalls of the visa process.
Nick has done 99% of the work for our visit. I have been solely preoccupied with arranging care for my dad, who has gone downhill rapidly over the last three months. His mental capacity is now very limited and he forgets to eat or thinks he has already eaten. The same goes for his ablutions and taking of medication. All of these things were being managed by me until carers could be engaged to take over. We are using agency carers and I'm not completely happy with them. I suppose they get most of it right most of the time so that's the best I can hope for. The crisis in Social Care is making life very difficult and beggars can't be choosers.
The facility where he lives has on-site carers but they are short staffed and have no extra capacity. If he was applying for a flat now he would not be accepted because they do not have the staff to look after him - he was much more able and independent when he moved there eighteen months ago. Lucky for us that we encouraged him to go down that route when he did. We are currently addressing his problems with daily carers visiting him in his own home. There are one or two serious issues which may lead us to place him in permanent residential care (a care home) if there is a crisis and the bought in care doesn't adequately deal with it.
The sixty four thousand dollar question is - when will we be able to go to France? We have asked for a start date for our visas of 7th March as that, added to our Schengen allowance, will give us all the time we want for this year. Nick may well go on ahead with Daisy and Hugo to get the house open and gardening started, if I'm still trying to get Dad settled.
As always, we will have to wait and see! Fortunately the requirement for testing for travel has been removed and that's a blessing - more expense and hassle that just adds to the whole process being a nightmare.
Tomorrow we will recheck the paperwork all over again, check our route and decide when to leave the house in order to get to our appointment in good time. As always in the UK you have to factor in extra time for traffic hold-ups, accidents, road works and general volume of traffic. A Monday morning is never a good time to travel anywhere.
Now that it's within our grasp I feel my excitement and longing increasing all over again, just like it has in previous years. It's been masked so far this year because of my dad; I seem to spend every waking hour thinking about him, trying to work out how I can improve his situation and how to navigate the complicated dealings with all the agencies and organisations involved. Without a doubt, looking after the needs of a very old person is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.
Hoping all goes well for you over the next few weeks. The stress of caring for your Dad must be taking its toll on you both. Since my cousin died suddenly, We've had more involvement with arranging things for her 93yr old Mum. It's frustrating and tiring (and living miles away add to it) hoping you are soon relaxating properly in France. 🇫🇷😉👍❤️🙏ReplyDelete
Angela, only those who have had to do this job have any understanding of how hard it is and how exhausting. Trying to do the right thing for him is often at odds with his own wishes and that's a difficult path to navigate.Delete
Keep your chin up. You'll get there, in France I mean....ReplyDelete
I travelled a lot in France with my husband, he was international truck driver, and we could be pulled over and kept for hours by the police for not having one piece of paper. Four hours in Albertville (because he didn't have a letter from his employers saying he could drive their truck!!!) was quite a frightening memory.
Hope all goes well with your visa paperwork
Christine, the French are sticklers for the rules, there is no doubt! In buying a property in France we often came up against this.Delete
Don't stress about your TLS meeting, the staff are very pleasant and helpful! If you've followed the crib sheets from the 180 Days Facebook Page everything will be ok. We went through the process three weeks ago and have now got our visas. Our greatest difficulty was deciding where to park!!! Although there is somewhere near the TLS Office we ended up parking at the Lowry Outlet, it's only a five minute walk across the basins. Also, be aware there are significant roadworks in the area which sometimes restrict access to side roads. Good luck.ReplyDelete
Thanks, that's very helpful!Delete
Feel for you- such a dilemma caring for a parent and balancing it with your own life. I’m feeling guilty at the moment because it will be a few more weeks before I can resume my “duties” personally, as I’m presently prohibited from bending, stretching and lifting, not to mention driving. Guess sometimes we have to force ourselves to remember that there are others who can and do step in.ReplyDelete
Yes we both agree with your reply to Angela. You have to have been in that situation for any understanding. Best of luck on all counts, hope it all goes well.ReplyDelete
Hope all went swell today!ReplyDelete