Friday, October 19, 2007

French Immigration

We flew to Paris Thursday for government medicals, a requirement for our cartes de sejour, which is essentially a Visa allowing us to live and work in France. Apparently, we’re not the only ones wanting to live here. They processed about 15 people during the hour we were there, and the waiting room was full when we left.

I had expectations for what tests were to be performed. I suspected we would have blood work and a chest x-ray done, and possibly have to answer a few questions. I figured the only medical circumstance that would keep someone from entering the country would be a contagious and uncommon-to-France disease, or perhaps a pending and expensive medical situation. Turns out, I was wrong.

The whole process was quite interesting. We were lead from station to station like herded cattle. The first three stations were with a nurse, the last with a physician.

First up: height and weight. The French are proud of being a country with low obesity rates, and obviously wish to keep it that way. I wonder if an overweight person would really have been rejected? Unfortunately, everyone in our group had a healthy BMI, so I did not get the chance to see anyone get rejected right from the start. Even Gilles and I, with a couple of extra cheese and Nutella pounds, progressed to the next station.

Second: an elementary eye exam. This one made me laugh. We had to stand across the room from an eye chart, and call out two or three letters for each eye to a nurse. All that that would have ruled out is the blind, which apparently are not welcome in France.

Third: a chest x-ray. I suspected this; no country wants to deal with TB.

Fourth and last: a meeting with a physician. He took my blood pressure, looked at my tonsils (and for once did not comment on how freakishly large they are), asked what I did for exercise, and if I smoke. Oh, and all this required me to enter the room without a shirt on. Lovely. I was concerned that the smoking question was a trick. In a country where it appears as though >50% of the population smoke, what was the right answer? Did he want to see how well I would fit in, in which case I should say yes? I figured it was best not to lie and I said no. Fortunately, this did not give me a failing grade. He also asked about my vaccinations. I now think this question was futile, as Gilles does not have a single up-to-date vaccination, and the physician who interviewed him did not care.

So, if you are considering a move to France, you will have no problems as long as you are not obese, blind, or have TB. Smoking and updated vaccinations are merely suggestions. Good luck!

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