Making the Move
Updated: Jun 19, 2018
New Week, New Post! I hope everyone had an amazing weekend either watching the world cup, celebrating your father (or both lol) or just doing nothing. I'm a sports fan so I'm actually excited for the world cup and of course I'm super happy for yesterday's victory of Mexico against Germany! One of the many things I love of being abroad is how celebrations bring us together and how we get together and united to make us feel each other home even when we are miles away.
Anyway, today I decided to share something a lot people has been asking me: “How did I get to live in Paris" Well, the answer is easy: Vacances-Travail Visa. You might or might not heard about it but I will tell you everything I know and how the process was for me.
The Vacances-Travail visa promotes the cultural exchange between participant countries (Japon, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Russia, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, Brasil and Mexico) and France. So, this visa basically lets you travel and discover the country during one year, giving you work permission to support the adventure.
Now, the first thing to keep in mind is age. You must be 18 years old to apply but less than 30 at the time of applying, except of Canada which age limit is 35. Second of all: availability, this visa is on high demand at the moment and there is a limit on given visas which also varies depending your country. The period to apply is since January until the quota is filled (which we dont certainly know, but I've read in some places that there are only 300 visas for Mexico) and you can apply 3 weeks and up to 3 months before your estimated departure date. For Mexico this visa is basically new, It was first introduced in 2016. I applied for the second round in 2017, since I wanted to travel in August, I applied in May 2017 which I'm glad I did because literally the week after I went to my appointment the quota was already filled. For this year by April the quota was already filled!! So with this I just want to show you how the demand is and if It's something you really want to do, you must keep this in mind, prepare your documents and act fast.
Another thing you should keep in mind and plan is a trip to Mexico City, where the french embassy is. Due the high demand I would recommend to schedule an appointment right away at your convenience and if anything you can always reschedule (although there's no guarantee there will be one available for when you want). To make the appointment click here. The visa cost 99 euros and you must pay in cash with the exact amount since they dont give any change, They update the exchange rate every 1st and 16th of the month and you can see this on the website.
The list of documents you must present for the appointment is as follows (The information I'm giving is for Mexican citizens, so if you are from another country just use it as a guide and make sure to consult the consulate website for your country):
Filled and signed form, You can download it from the french consulate website.
Passport size photographs, They ask for specific measures so to make it easier there is a place super close to the consulate where you can take them and they know exactly the requirements, they have them ready in about 15-20 mins and they are not overpriced. The place is called "Tabaquería y Papelería Polanco".
Motivation letter, You must write why would you like to get this visa and what are your plans once in France. It can be written either in french or your native language. What to write: Which part(s) of France are you planning on visiting, Why are you interested in french culture, How would you use this experience when you are back in Mexico, etc. What not to write: You want to go study french (They could refuse and suggest to get a student visa), You want to work (They could refuse since the main purpose of this visa is to sustain yourself with your own funds and just to work in case you are out of them, You want to reunite with your boyfriend (There is another visa for this purpose).
Round trip flights, If you dont want to buy the flights yet, you would need to present then proof of funds for 20,000 mxn. You can also show one way ticket and extra funds of 10,000 mxn which I personally did. Btw my departure ticket was to Madrid, Spain and it did not represent a problem, they didn't ask for further details on how I would get from Spain to France.
Proof of solvency, As I mentioned before the purpose of the visa is to vacation with your own funds, so they need proof that you have at least 55,000 mxn on your debit or savings account which to be honest depending on your plan and/or the city you are willing to arrive this amount might be okay or not to begin with, but I will share more of that later. To present my funds, I printed from my online banking the last statement showing my available balance, and the latest movements, I printed it the day before and I supported with an ATM receipt of my available balance at the day.
Background check, This document certifies that you have not committed a crime and it must be recent, no more than 3 months old. I'm from San Luis Potosí, but got mine in Cancun where I was living at the moment and I had no problem. You download and print the form and take it to the bank to pay, and then you can go to the office along with, birth certificate, two pictures and your ID. Mine was ready after a couple of days.
Medical certificate, This is just a general certificate that states you are in good health. I've been out of Mexico for a while so I dont really have a "family doctor" so I presented one from "a pharmacy doctor", in Mexico we have Simi, and it worked well, you just need to make sure to have a valid signature and stamp with the doctor's license.
Health insurance, It should cover your whole stay in France and its very important in case you are a woman that it covers pregnancy, otherwise it would be refused. Another important note is that they will issue your visa for the day your insurance starts, so make sure you have the right dates on your insurance. I chose to buy from "Asegura tu viaje" they work with different insurance companies so, you can tell them you are applying for this visa and the dates you are planning on traveling and they will offer you different options. I went for the cheapest one that happened to be from "Euro American Assistance" It covered all the requisites, including pregnancy and I paid 425 usd for one year. I need to say, my experience with them has been favorable. While traveling from Barcelona to Brussels my luggage was on delay, so I filed a claim and they paid me back for all the clothes and supplies I had to get due this inconvenience. It took about 3 months to get the refund, but at least they covered all the expenses and were in constant communication.
Last but not least, If you are not from CDMX and you dont want to wait there until the visa is ready don't forget to bring with you a prepaid label so they can ship your passport. I had to do this since I was told It could take up to 2 weeks and I couldn't wait that long in CDMX. I read before that I could arrive there directly and buy from a nearby place but my mistake was arriving late. I was in a hurry so i didn't ask much, just ordered one and so he gave me the most expensive one. My surprise was, while I was still in CDMX my mom received my passport! So it took less than a week to stamp the visa and mail my passport which I could totally could've picked up myself, but oh well!.
As I was telling you, I was late for my appointment so I was very nervous since I know Europeans take punctuality very serious. I felt like a newbie taking an Uber instead of public transportation (duh!) so I had to call the office and announce I was on retard. The lady respond nicely and explained to me that each person gets 30 mins, so if my appointment was 10 am I had until 10.30 am assigned for me but if I arrived passed the 30 mins then I would had to reschedule. When I arrived there was a small line outside, but I explained I was late and they were very comprehensive and allowed me to go in first. The security guard checks your purse, asks for your phone, checks the photographs and that you have the exact amount of money.
When inside, you must wait for your turn and it can result a little awkward since you can hear whats going on with the others but also you can get an idea on what to expect when your turn arrives. When my turn arrived, I got lucky maybe to pass with a person in training which was being supervised so he was only focusing on asking for documents in the right order. He did not ask anything, I just gave him the documents and he was checking they were all in order, He asked me to pay, He asked for the prepaid label and He gave me instructions on whats next and how to check online the process of my visa.
Unlike the American visa, here you need to wait until you get back your passport to find out if you got it or not. Online you can see the process but they wont tell if it was either approved or denied, they only say the decision was made and that they mailed or you can pick up your passport. Once you receive the passport you can either find the stamped visa or find a paper which tells you why it has been declined.
Fortunately for me was a very simple process, I had no problem with the documents, I was not questioned and I got it very quickly into my home. I honestly havent heard of any case that it has been denied, and for what I've read they are very flexible, they rather tell you before if you are missing a document, or if you must change something on your application, they even give you a chance to go back later that same day without an appointment.
As expected my visa was given for the exact day my insurance starts with a validity of one year.
Some other things to consider about this visa:
You can NOT renew it.
You can NOT change your status, if you want to change your visa or status you must go back to Mexico and do it from there.
Not a lot of people is familiar with it.
Although the language is not a requirement I would definitely recommend have at least a basic knowledge.
You are allowed to apply to any kind of job you want, there no restrictions in terms of field.
You can either work part time or full time, as well there is no restriction of hours worked.
You dont need to do anything upon arrival.
You must reside/work in France, but you can travel freely around the Schengen area as a tourist for not more of 90 days.
So this was my experience getting the visa, for me I would say the whole process took not more than a month. What It took me the most was the flights, and comparing different insurances. I hope you find it clear and helpful and please do not hesitate to ask any questions or leave a comment! Also feel free to visit and find the information in Spanish at the french embassy website here.
#SpoilerAlert don’t miss my next post where I will talk about arriving in Paris and starting from zero.