Picking Up My First Carte de Séjour

As some of you may know, France has gone back into confinement. While the prospect of another quarantine in my tiny Parisian studio is not thrilling to say the least, I thought I should make the most of it and try to get back into writing articles for this blog. 

To kick things off, why not start with reflecting on one of the only positive things that have happened in 2020: finally getting to pick up my first carte de séjour.

As readers of this blog may know, my journey moving to and settling in France has not been the smoothest one. It started off relatively easy by arriving in 2017 with a working holiday visa, a temporary residence permit that allowed me to live and work anywhere in France for up to two years. I unfortunately found out that this visa, while easy to apply for and receive, could not be changed into anything in France – I would need to go back home to Canada to apply for a new visa.

As such, in 2019 I had to go through the complicated, multi-month, bureaucracy-heavy process of applying for a titre de séjour salarié

After an emotionally-charged period in which I could best be described as a ball of stress, I succeeded in getting my desired visa and was able to return to France with worker status. Of course, this was just the start of a long immigration process, full of OFII medical examinations and civic courses.

When I requested a rendez-vous for end of March 2020 to apply for my first card, I felt like I was approaching the finish line. Unfortunately, a certain pandemic took a wrecking ball to the world this year, and Paris entered a strict confinement this spring. Naturally, my appointment had been cancelled, and I had to scramble to get a new one once the prefecture reopened.

When I finally was able to submit all my documents in July, the immigration office worker assured me that I’d receive an SMS in one and a half month’s time to come pick up my card. One and a half months passed, then two, then three. No SMS. 

Getting worried, I sent some courteous emails to the prefecture in the hopes I’d get a reply. Around three weeks after, I finally received an email back – and a convocation to come pick up my card! The date was around a month away, but I was so ecstatic at the prospect of finally having a piece of French ID that I didn’t care. 

This week was finally the week. Taking off an afternoon from work in anticipation (most prefecture visits I’ve made in the past have lasted well over four hours), I took the metro early, frantically searched for my exit at Châtelet, raced across the Pont Notre-Dame, and arrived at a surprisingly deserted prefecture. 

After being rushed in by police officers outside, I entered the courtyard where around 100 people were queued up, also waiting to pick up their card. After around two hours of waiting, I was finally let inside, where I had my documents looked over by the worker at the desk and a was given a number. Not even 15 minutes later, I was called to one of the guichets

After quickly looking over my dossier, the prefecture worker excused herself to go fetch an envelope. Returning, she handed me a small pink card and asked me to look over the details to ensure all of the information was correct. Hands shaking, I signed to say the card was well received, and left.

I won’t lie: once outside the prefecture I cried tears of joy. After nearly four years of waiting, of incredible levels of stress, of having to carry my passport around as ID, of being rejected for apartment rentals, jobs, and banks because I didn’t have a proper French residence permit, of feeling like I had no proper standing in my adopted country – I finally have a carte de séjour.

Not only that, it’s valid for four years.

Next stop: applying for French nationality!


  1. Terrific article! I am also a fellow Canadian and just moved to Paris in October and going through a status switch much like youself. Although, in my case since I am switching from student to a talent visa, I learned that after returning back to Canada in January, I should return back to France to start my talent visa process under a status switch rather than doing an entire application through the Canadian embassy. I am glad to hear that you finally picked up your cart de sejour! Did they give you a longer expiry date on your recepisse?


    1. Hi Melissa,
      Glad to hear you liked the article & happy to hear from a fellow Canadian! If you have a student visa normally you can make the status change in France and there’s no need to make a new application through the French embassy in Canada. I know a few people who went from student to salarié or passeport talent while staying in France. In regards to my récépissé, it was valid for 6 months from the time of application. I had around 2 months left on it by the time I went to pick up my CDS. I believe 6 months is standard for a récépissé.


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