Grandmother of three tries to obtain French visa disguised as a student. Story at 11:00…

My last post detailed all the documents that I was required to submit for my visa application at the French Consulate here in Atlanta. Being the Type A person that I am, I had all these documents assembled, checked and double (triple, quadruple) checked long before my appointment on June 3.  I had left nothing to chance, of course.

I arrived more than an hour before my appointed time – again, Type A not wanting to take any chances on being late.  Because I was early I had the opportunity to witness the 6-8 people applying for their student visas ahead of me.  They all went something like this:

May I see your documents, please?”  (shuffle, shuffle through the papers)

Do you have your housing letter? Oh here it is…”  (shuffle, shuffle a little more)

Okay, look at the camera and don’t smile.  That will be €50.  You will receive your visa in about two weeks.  Next!

I wasn’t worried, this looked easy.  My turn:

May, I see your documents, please?”  (shuffle, shuffle, frown, squint. Expression of incomprehension.)

Agent summons another agent to examine my documents as well.  More shuffling and frowning ensued and then the interrogation:

What are you going to be studying in France?

Uh, French…”  (duh!)

What is your major?


(More shuffling, some murmured conversations between the two agents, and a few sideways suspicious glances thrown my way.)

Do you have proof that you are a student at KSU?

Well, you are holding a copy of my Student ID in your hand.  It has my picture on it and it says ‘Student’ right there.

I’m sorry, but this isn’t sufficient to prove you are a student.  Do you have a letter from KSU saying you are a student?

No, of course not.  I didn’t know I would need that.  But I have acceptance letters from ISEP and UPJV in France.

That is not sufficient, either.  Do you have a transcript?

(Oh, I see.  So ISEP and UPJV accepted me into the program although I am only pretending to be a student?)

Well, yes, I have a transcript but I don’t have it with me because it isn’t on the list“.

At this point I whip out my official Check List and brandish it under his nose…SEE, it isn’t on the list!

Yes, I know it isn’t on the list, but we must have it before we can process your application.

Can you tell me why you need this since I provided all the required documentation?”

No, we can’t give you that information. But you must provide the transcript as proof that you are a student.”

Need I add that none of the other students were subjected to this line of questioning?  Need I add that they were all 19 years old?

After some more discussion about proof of my student status, I finally got to look at the camera –  “Don’t smile” – hand over my €50 (aka $62) and relinquish my passport.  I received no parting words telling me to look for my visa in two weeks, only instructions to send the further documentation to prove I am a student.  Okay, well BONNE JOURNEE to you too!

Three weeks later, not two, I received the visa.  I guess it took an extra week for them to run extensive background checks trying to figure out why I was attempting to pass myself off as a student to infiltrate their country.  As if someone my age who wanted to enter France under false pretenses would choose Exchange Student as a likely disguise!






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