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Author Topic: Travel questions
Dr Strangelove
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So I've done a fair bit of traveling in my time, but I'm getting ready to embark on a lengthier journey than I have experience and was wondering if any jatraquero's could offer me any advice.

I'm going to be in London from the beginning of January to the end of April teaching and researching, but I've mostly got that all worked out. But if anyone has any words of wisdom for me on staying in London, definitely let me know.

It's France that I'm not quite as sure about. I have two main concerns. The first is how long I can stay. I've found conflicting reports about whether or not is is possible to circumvent the 90 day tourist visa rule. I would like to spend probably around 4 months in various parts of France and was hoping that I would just be able to take a hop over to England or maybe even Algeria once my 90 days were going to be up and then come back in a couple days and get a new 90 days. Does anyone know for sure if that is possible or not?

Second is that I was awarded a pretty nice research grant, but I'm not quite sure how to get the money. They want to either deposit it in a French bank or wire transfer it to me. I'm going to call Suntrust (my bank) later this afternoon and ask how they handle international transfers, but I thought I would ask here if anyone knew how that worked. I've read something about BIC and IBAN or something like that, but haven't been able to really get a good explanation as to how it all works.
I've also looked in to opening a bank account in France, but that seems quite difficult. The third option would be to find a bank that has a presence in France.
Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance for any advice anyone can give me about staying long term in Europe. I'm quite excited, but also quite nervous.

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kmbboots
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The University where you will be doing research or the folks giving the grant should be able to help you with this.

Edit to add: There is, of course, nothing wrong with getting advice here. I just wanted to be sure that if the university isn't being as helpful as they should be, that you kick their butts.

[ November 14, 2011, 05:20 PM: Message edited by: kmbboots ]

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Bella Bee
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quote:
I would like to spend probably around 4 months in various parts of France and was hoping that I would just be able to take a hop over to England or maybe even Algeria once my 90 days were going to be up and then come back in a couple days and get a new 90 days. Does anyone know for sure if that is possible or not?
That's a negative (legally). You have to be 90 days in and 90 days out. It's the same for Europeans who want to spend more than 90 days in the US, without a special visa arrangement. You can't legally just pop to Canada for a day or two and then come back.

A lot of people do all sorts of things though, to get past the system. Illegal Americans are everywhere here (and often working on the black too). Just know that if you don't have the proper legal status and get caught, you might not be allowed back into Europe for years.

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ElJay
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A wire transfer to you should be no big deal. Make sure you have a secure way to give them your account number, and it will probably cost you $10 to receive the money.
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The Rabbit
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If you are doing research at a University, you probably qualify for a student VISA. I'd contact the French University you are working with and ask if they can assist you in getting a student VISA.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Bella Bee:
quote:
I would like to spend probably around 4 months in various parts of France and was hoping that I would just be able to take a hop over to England or maybe even Algeria once my 90 days were going to be up and then come back in a couple days and get a new 90 days. Does anyone know for sure if that is possible or not?
That's a negative (legally). You have to be 90 days in and 90 days out. It's the same for Europeans who want to spend more than 90 days in the US, without a special visa arrangement. You can't legally just pop to Canada for a day or two and then come back.

A lot of people do all sorts of things though, to get past the system. Illegal Americans are everywhere here (and often working on the black too). Just know that if you don't have the proper legal status and get caught, you might not be allowed back into Europe for years.

I have personally spent a day in jail, in a country I will not disclose, for accidental violation of this rule. You can get caught.

The more likely scenario if you are caught for an overstay is a fine of about 500 Euros, however, it is also quite common that a few words of explanation or a simple apology can bypass any action the authorities may take, depending entirely upon the individual border officer, the circumstances, and chance. They may browse your passport, not look at your entry stamp, and pass you through with no hold up. It does happen.

People do do all sorts of things to bypass the law. They illegally tamper with passports and stamps, damage passports so that they must be replaced at American embassies abroad (thus eliminating evidence of entry dates to casual inspection- though the information does survive in interpol and immigration databases), apply for long-stay visas for "White Marriages," to friends or acquaintances to whom they are not actually committed (this goes for homosexual unions as well), claim residence in places they do not live, and enroll in schools that they do not attend.

All of which is illegal, and all of which you should not do.

However, considering that you will be entering the EU through the UK, and that you will likely be granted a student visa valid for at least six months, but possibly as long as 18 months, and since the UK shares a bilateral agreement with the Schengen Zone, but is not part of Schengen, relevant authorities *could* view your UK visa as sufficient reason to overlook a lack of other proper documentation.

Also, in my experience, multiple entries and exits tend to obscure the picture of your movements in the eyes of border officers, and most of the time, but not all the time, a border officer is satisfied by, at most, an entry stamp no older than 90 days.

It is also possible to obtain a short term extension of a 90 day visa relatively quickly, though there are fees and there is paperwork involved. If you wish to enter Schengen from the UK, you can apply for a longer visa at the French embassy in London. I have no advice as to how easily or quickly such a process would go.

Another option would be to enroll in a French language program at a language institute for foreigners for a short period (a month or so). The visa will likely be granted for 6 months, and the school will provide all necessary visa paperwork to you- and this is pretty much the only way you could accomplish everything by mail.

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Dr Strangelove
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Thank you all very much! I'm not actually going to be working with a specific university - the grant is from the Fondation Napoleon, so it doesn't quite have the administrative support that a University would. In fact, my main contact has been a quite highly regarded historian in his own right who I imagine is not all that happy helping me figure out bureaucratic stuff. He has been quite helpful, but I'm trying to both him as little as possible.

Thanks for all the help, and any more advice is definitely equally appreciated.

It's great of you to mention the language school thing Orincoro, because one of the stipulations of the grant is that I use a portion of the money for language classes. So if I can knock out two birds with one stone, I definitely will.

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Teshi
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I live in the UK, just outside of London. I'm no expert, but I am around if you have a specific question.

HSBC is a bank that has branches in both France and the UK. I'm not sure exactly how it works, though or how easy it will be for you to set one up as a tourist-student although I'm sure if you wave a bunch of money at them to put into an account you could make it happen.

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Anna2112
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So, I hardly ever comment, but I do happen to know a bit about this since I'm an American student at university in the UK.

In order to get a student visa, I believe you need to have a UK higher education institute sponsor you, so I don't know if you'd be able to get one in this situation. However, you can get a general visa.

I have a bank account at Lloyds, because they do free international student accounts. They're the only bank that I know of that does free international student accounts, so I'd recommend them pretty highly. Wire transferring is easy-- basically you give all the information to your bank in the US and they charge you an irritating fee and you wait a week and it shows up in your UK bank account. You do need a BIC and an IBAN (or some other information, your bank should tell you what) so that requires you setting up a bank account in the UK before you transfer money over. I brought money over with me in cash and then did a wire transfer when I first came over.

I don't know if that's helpful, but if you have more specific questions let me know. And if you're a student, I highly recommend student universe for flights (I hope I'm not violating any rules by posting that. It's not advertising, I just happened to get a really good fare from them recently. Feel free to delete it).

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Teshi:
I live in the UK, just outside of London. I'm no expert, but I am around if you have a specific question.

HSBC is a bank that has branches in both France and the UK. I'm not sure exactly how it works, though or how easy it will be for you to set one up as a tourist-student although I'm sure if you wave a bunch of money at them to put into an account you could make it happen.

During the time I lived in the UK, Barclays was recommended for Americans who had accounts with BofA, as they were owned by the same entity, and there were no charges for using one or the other interchangeably.
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Brian J. Hill
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In 2006, I lived in France as an exchange student for 5 months. I was enrolled in a French language institute at a small university in Angers (in the west of France,) so the 6-month student visa thing was pretty easy for me. A lot of paperwork and phone calls in French, so make sure your French skills are decent, or you know someone who'll trade translation services for a good crusty baguette and some brie [Smile]

As for the banking issue, in your situation, I'd recommend against getting a French bank account (unless you're like me and want to go through the process of getting one as an "educucational" experience.) I had a simple checking account in France, with le Banque Populaire d'Atlantique, but I'm pretty sure if I wanted to set up an account capable of receiving international funds transfers, the paperwork burden (as well as the financial disclosures) would have been too overwhelming. I definitely second Anna's suggestion to get an account at Lloyd's, if only because that sounds really cool. They also will speak English, and it may be easier to set up an international account. Once you have a European account, make sure to get a debit card, even if they charge a small monthly fee. The convenience is worth it, since European cards have the little microchip in them that must be there to work in ATMs, most restaurants, telephone booths, etc. The 1970s magnetic-strip technology that American banks quaintly insist upon won't work in a lot of locations.

That being said, to manage funds whilst in France, I'd suggest using your Suntrust debit card at French ATMs, which all accept VISA cards (even with only a magnetic strip) with a PIN. At least when I was in France, this was by far the best way to get the best exchange rates. I had a Suntrust account, and at the time, they didn't charge extra fees to do the international transaction, though I'd check on that. Hope this helps.

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dabbler
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man now I have a hankering for crusty baguette and brie.
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BlueWizard
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There are a variety of Visas you can get, among them - Visas for professors and researchers holders of a "convention d’accueil". These are classified as Work Visas not Tourist Visas. There is a whole range of them that can be found on the Conciliate of France website -

http://www.consulfrance-washington.org/spip.php?rubrique98

Best not leave this until the last minute though.

Also, think about health insurance. Usually foreigners are required to buy some type of insurance to be part of the health system in countries such as France or England. I think you have to offer proof that your existing insurance will pay, or buy into the national health system.

Information can be found at the same website link above.

Apparently it can take 4 weeks and up to 2 months to process a Visa application, so don't delay.

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