Archive for the 'passport' Category

Two Weeks of Suck, Part 1: the passport agency

Part of the Two Weeks of Suck series, in which b recounts her spring break.

1. It all started when I decided to apply for a carte de séjour. It was already kind of late in the quarter (as in, ‘the week before finals’ late), but I e-mailed the Stanford-in-Paris program about it. It turned out that I needed to have a passport valid until I left (next March), so off I went to the San Francisco Passport Agency.

Thursday. I call the passport agency through their life-or-death number, because I kept getting a ‘network busy’ announcement through their regular line. Someone tells me to go to the agency at about 7 the next morning. I’m excited because I think I can get my passport renewed before the weekend.

Friday. WRONG. The new passports have an RFID chip in them and take a longer time to produce, plus there’s an unusually high volume of people this week. The agency actually opens at 9am. I don’t actually have an appointment. After standing in numerous lines for a few hours (with my flight itinerary and passport in hand– they need to see proof that you’re leaving very soon to even let you in), the guy at the counter hands me a pink slip that will let me back in on Monday morning at 11:30.

Monday. The day of my visa appointment. After waiting for three hours, I hand my application in and they need my old passport. However, right AFTER they punch a hole in my passport and make it void, they tell me that I won’t be getting a new one until tomorrow morning.

2. I’m in tears and make a visit to the French Consulate to beg for another appointment. The security guard (only one– the consulate is small) kindly agrees to let me in on Wednesday at 9 a.m. Since I’d already been screwed over by so many other people, I thank him but don’t believe a word he says. Besides, how the hell can I get there on Wednesday morning when I have a freaking FINAL? I e-mail my TA to find out. My TA CCs the e-mail to my professor.

3. My professor responds. Their policy cannot allow students to take the final at a different time, else they have to take the final in a subsequent quarter. BUT, he includes a loophole: if I get back to campus before the final ends (before 11:30), they could let me ‘begin late’ and ‘finish late’.

Wednesday. I go to the French Consulate and try my luck. The security guard was right— I got a visa within the hour! My dad-slash-driver gets me back to campus within half an hour and I take my final.

Happy ending! For this post, anyway.

Next up: Why our sublet owner probably wanted to kill us!

re: okay, freak-out time

Miracles do happen.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: You can get an appointment at a passport agency on the next day if you call their life-or-death operator number and hold for about half an hour. Granted, I had two temporal reasons: 1) I have a French visa appointment on Monday, and 2) there are two days between Friday and Monday, and neither of them is a regular work day.

I now have to get to the San Francisco Passport Agency at 7 a.m. today. Still don’t know if I’ll get my passport in time, but my chances just jumped from 10% to at least 40%, especially since my visa appointment is at 3 p.m. on Monday, which means I could pick my passport up that morning before the appointment.

Also, about the French Consulate:

In the words of one of the coordinators from the Stanford Overseas Program,

“Immigration is about keeping people out, not letting people in”.

Stanford students have already gotten rejected for extended-stay visas because the consulate didn’t deem them worthy of getting one. “Don’t be wishy-washy about your reasons for getting an extended-stay visa,” the coordinator warned me. I have to come into the consulate like a lion-tamer: confident, respectful, but above all, clear about what I want.

Well, I’ve wanted Paris so bad I could taste it. I’m sure I’ll hate it very often once I get there, but hey, even Stanford students gripe about how much Stanford sucks sometimes. People will never stop complaining. Just let me enjoy my romantic notions for a moment.

okay, freak-out time

Apparently, you can’t NOT be without a passport while in ANY foreign country. So much for waiting until I get my residence permit to renew my passport.

There’s also apparently a way to renew your passport on the same day. Unfortunately, today is Thursday. I am leaving for NYC in exactly a week, and my visa application appointment in San Francisco is slated for next Monday (i.e. SOON).

Maybe I could apply for both during my three days in New York!

Wait, nope, I’m not from the tri-state area anymore.

Holy shit, I’m screwed.

bitching about passports and visas

Before I begin to recount this long tale of frustration and woe, I have to note three things that are directly attributable to me that definitely didn’t help my situation.

1. I don’t have a driver’s license.

2. I procrastinated on applying for my visa and passport until pretty much the last possible moment.

3. I put off logging my work hours for months at a time, so that prevented me from being paid, which prevented me from getting my money into my debit card.

Anyway.

Once upon a time I got accepted into a program called Stanford-in-Paris (colloquially), and they gave me step-by-step instructions on how to apply for a six-month visa if I wanted a temporary residence permit (carte de séjour). Unfortunately, I didn’t look at these instructions until about five weeks before my departure date, so my visa appointment at the French consulate is slated for maybe three days before I leave for New York, then London, then Paris. (Yep, I’m doing the touristy thing for Spring Break, but that’s mostly not my fault. More on my itinerary later.)

On top of that, my passport was set to expire next January while I wanted to stay in France until next March, so my mother told me to get an expedited passport renewal. It’s about $200 and was supposed to take about two weeks. But when I got to the post office to do it exactly two weeks before my appointment with the French Consulate, I discovered I was lacking a few key things:

A driver’s license or state ID. (I’d just applied for a state ID the week before, but it still hadn’t come in the mail.) If you don’t have this, you need to bring someone you’ve known for 2+ years and who does have valid ID. I had to bring my mother to sign an affidavit that claimed I was legit.

Cash. You need either a debit card or cold, hard cash to pay for the damn thing. (Credit cards not accepted.) I also had to get my mother to front the money, but that’s how she rolls anyway.

Once I gathered the materials (and person), I returned an hour later to the post office to finally get my passport renewed. (It’s sort of like an RPG!) But get this: they’d JUST gotten a fax from the San Francisco Passport Agency that said expedited passports no longer take 2 weeks, but 3-4. They got this fax literally ten minutes before I got my mom to come to campus to sign the affidavit.

I don’t know whether that was a godsend or someone up there’s idea of a joke, but the deal was called off and I’m renewing my passport from France… once I get my temporary residence permit and can mail my passport (with the 6-month visa still in it) back to the US for renewal without fear of deportation.

And besides, I signed up for a visa appointment online with the SF French Consulate under my old passport number, and if they discovered that I got a new one in the meantime things might get complicated.

Funny how things work out sometimes.


What?

This is a blog of things place-related, by a cash-strapped Stanford grad who's lived in various places and writes about life. She's currently looking for a job in Manhattan or the Bay Area.

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