September 22, 2008
This was the main reason that we both came to California at this time. I had
a trial run applying for the visa when in Los Angeles by myself in June.
With our boat documented at my sister’s address, we were deemed no longer
residents of Southern California, so the LA office rejected my packet. We
had to apply at the French Consulate office in San Francisco. We do not
intend to cross the Pacific until early next summer, but it is takes time to
get the Long Stay Visa. Once they accept a packet it takes 3-4 months to
process. Something about SF-Paris-Tahiti bureaucracy. If you are approved
you have 90 days to pick it up. One person, of a married couple, must
personally return with both passport to pick up the visas. You then have 90
days to check into the country.
If you do not go through the hoops to get a Long Stay Visa you can only stay
in French Polynesia for 30 days with a 1-2 month extension. That is a very
long way to travel for such a short period of time. Once you have the L.S.
Visa you can get it renewed. You do have to leave from time to time, but it
is a much better way to go. With great diving throughout this large region
of the Pacific, we were motivated to do whatever it took.
Here is a list of requirements for this visa application:
· Application forms, in French (3 copies)
· Passport valid for 1 year (3 copies)
· Passport photos (3 copies)
· Proof of health insurance that is valid outside the US and
guarantee of return of our remains in case of our death
· Financial guarantee/proof of income: minimum $1700 per month per
person (2 copies of statements from bank or brokerage firm)
· Letter written in French certifying that we will perform no paid
· Police clearance from the city where we reside or last resided in
the US – translated into French
· Letter written in French explaining our purpose of applying for the
long stay visa
Friends in Paris, Clark & Vincent, provided the translation service. Our
French was never very good & has not been helped by a year in a Spanish
Applications for this visa are accepted by appointment only on Monday and
Wednesday afternoons. The No. Cal portion of our trip was scheduled around
our Monday Sept 22 appointment at 2 pm. It was a happy coincidence that my
Dad’s side annual family reunion fell the day before. Scott & I brought Dad
& enjoyed visiting with my sister Alberta & her husband David as well as all
the other Brain’s relatives.
We had everything in order on Monday September 22 except the paper from the
Sebastopol Police Department verifying that Scott was not a known criminal.
I had gotten my clearance in June, but just for good measure got a current
one. Our translating friends used my June clearance as a sample for what we
needed, just changing the date. As soon as the secretary got in, we were
there with our $20 cash fee and were soon on our way to SF, our packet
We were early along with several others at the Bush Street office, near the
gate to Chinatown. We showed our appointment slip to the security guard, our
bags were searched & we walked through a metal detector. We were happy to
get the young, sweet looking woman behind the glass, not the more stern
officious looking man. She went down her checklist & we handed her the
documents one by one. Or in most cases: three by three. She neglected to
ask for our proof of health insurance, so we volunteered it and she said
If it goes as expected, my sister will get a call from the SF office in
early January. I will wait until nearly the last of the 90 days to fly from
wherever we are to pick the visas up. We want as much leeway as possible in
getting there, not to be rushed. We figure they must have to make allowances
for weather or repairs, since we will be arriving by boat. But no sense in
getting the officials suspicious by checking in “late” if it can be
prevented. As we left, we breathed a small sigh of relief that it was out
of our hands & now just a waiting game. If we don’t qualify for this thing,
we don’t think anyone can.
After the No.Cal trip, Scott went back to So.Cal ahead of me to pick up and
pack up the umpty umpty amount of boat stuff we needed to take back with us.
We stayed in LA mostly with Scott’s Aunt Barbara who was very tolerant of
our taking over her living room; making it look much like a cross between a
SCUBA store and Yacht Chandlery…..
Scott & Cindy, just back from L.A., Mazatlan, Mexico