The problem is that when we look at the Prefecture’s website neither my girlfriend nor myself can understand a thing. It is mainly the CIMADE that helped us by explaining what we needed and what our rights were. It wasn’t only a question of understanding French, but also the complexity of the laws and the language used on the website. We had trouble understanding our situation; what the Prefecture was going to make of our circumstances.
The first time I went to the Prefecture, with my German visa, I asked them what I had to do and their answer was, “Your case doesn’t correspond to any of our scenarios. You can’t stay in France. You have to go home.” The official at the Prefecture said nothing more. She did not give me any possible solutions, did nothing to help us. My girlfriend and I were quite shocked, we discovered at that moment that we were completely illegal residents, nothing more. Before going back a second time we sought the advice of the CIMADE. They told us to argue that our case should be based on our right to resident status because of personal and family bonds. And indeed, this time around they gave us the correct form… we had to ask for it explicitly! You have to know exactly what you need before you go there and you need to know your rights. If not, you’ll get nothing from the Prefecture!