Arrive prepared at the prefecture

The problem was that when my girlfriend and I looked at the prefecture’s website, we didn’t understand; it was CIMADE who helped us move forward, telling us what we needed and what our rights were. It wasn’t just a language problem, but also the complexity of the laws and the language used on the site. It was hard to understand what our situation was, what we were up against when we faced the Prefecture.
With my German visa, on my first visit, I asked them how I should proceed; the answer was: “There’s no such thing as you, Monsieur. You have no right to stay in France, you must leave.” The Préfecture employee didn’t say anything more, she didn’t mention any possible solutions, she didn’t do anything to help us. My girlfriend and I were quite shocked, discovering at the time that we were completely ‘illegal’, and nothing more.
When we went back a second time, after talking to Cimade, we went down the road of ‘right to stay for personal and family ties’, as we’d been advised. And indeed, this time they gave us the form that corresponded to us… we had to ask for it explicitly, to get it! You have to go in knowing what you need to get, and knowing your rights. Otherwise, you won’t get anything at the Préfecture!

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