So now I get to finish my preparations for the move, safe in the knowledge that I have permission to stay in France for a year. I haven't been blogging about the process of getting the visa - I found a VERY helpful blog that told me almost everything I needed to know, so I don't want to reinvent the wheel by repeating everything here - but I will tell you about the most important things that I learned.
- Be prepared. I made sure to have all the paperwork and documentation that I would need for my application, even to the point of excess, so that I would have a complete application packet when I arrived at the Consulate in Chicago. For example, for my proof of income/support, I submitted six months of bank and investment statements, instead of the typical three months of statements. I also brought copies of my marriage certificate and divorce papers in case they wanted proof of my marital status. I'm sure it bordered on paranoid, but I was not about to take any unnecessary chances.
- Be patient and polite. When I arrived for my appointment at the Consulate, not only was I called to the window nearly an hour after my scheduled time, but I was also told that I had the wrong medical insurance coverage (the requirements were not anywhere on the website that I could find, so it was an unpleasant surprise). I was super stressed out and ready to put my bitch face on, but the Consulate employee was just doing his job, and to be frank, I needed something from him and his office. I kept my cool, remained polite, and thanked him very much for explaining the requirements...and then started bitching as soon as I left the building.
- There are very specific requirements for the International Medical Insurance you carry. I needed a zero deductible policy with at least $50,000 coverage, and repatriation expenses fully covered. I had already bought a policy through Cigna Global Health, so I had to change the policy. Of course, I freaked out about getting my Certificate of Insurance quickly enough, but Cigna offered exactly what I needed and they issued my updated certificate in just a day or two. (Sidenote: I highly recommend Cigna if you are looking for expat medical insurance. Great customer service, tons of policy options, and you can do everything online OR via phone with their fabulous employees. Hi Scott!)
So now my preparations enter Phase 2: The Moving. Anyone want a crock pot?