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I am an Egyptian citizen working and living in France, and I am applying for a Canadian business visit visa (a temporary visit). I have received notification that my Canadian visa application has reached a decision and that I have to leave my passport at the Visa Application Center, or mail it to them, to get the results. I contacted the Visa Application Center and they said it is not possible to return the passport to me on the same day I give it to them; so I have to spend at least one day without my passport.

The problem is that my passport is my only identification document I have. It is also my first year here so I have no external "carte de sejour;" my French temporary residency visa is affixed to my passport. I also have my Egyptian national ID card but it is in Arabic.

My question is what should I do? Could I walk around for a few days carrying only a photocopy of my passport and my French visa?

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Official advice is that you should carry your titre de séjour with you at all times but it is not a criminal offense not to have it (you cannot be punished for that, not even by a fine). The police does however have the right to keep you for up to 16 hours to ascertain who you are and whether you have the right to be in France (which you have, as you hold a valid long-stay visa, even if you are unable to present it). That would obviously be a major inconvenience and is the main risk in your situation.

Realistically, a check is not particularly likely but possible, and having copies of your passport and some receipt of your visa application should help. While the police could make your life unpleasant for a few hours if they really want to, the only purpose of this procedure is to give them time to obtain a removal decision against people staying illegally. So if you can convince them it's not your case or the préfecture can confirm they have a record of your visa, there is no point in keeping you any longer.

In the unlikely event that it comes that far, note that you have a number of rights while the police is holding you to check your status: You can ask to see a lawyer, a physician, an interpreter (if you do not speak French) and request that a friend or member of your family (only one person, though) and your consulate be informed of your situation (these rules are specific to the 16-hour vérification du droit au séjour but do not apply to the four-hour verification after a regular identity check, which is a distinct procedure, even though the latter can lead to the former). Additionally, you should not be restrained unless you behave dangerously or uncooperatively and you should not be mixed with people who are suspected of a crime (garde à vue). At the end of the investigation, the police officer in charge will write a report (procès-verbal), which you do not have to sign if you don't agree.

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    And if you tell the police that your passport is with the Canadian embassy right now because you have been granted a visa from Canada, they will be able to verify with Canadian embassy that this is indeed the case - and the granted Canadian visa provides a strong case against you being illegally in France. – Alexander Oct 4 '16 at 11:30
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – RoflcoptrException Oct 5 '16 at 15:29
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I scanned my passport & visa, printed out very high quality images of them, put the two images back to back, then laminated them together. It works very well for day-to-day activities here in China. Very rarely does anyone ask to see the real thing.

I have no personal experience with this passport copy in other countries, but the person who told me this trick says they used it to cross from Germany to France and back while their non-EU passport was in an embassy for a visa application. He said he just explained it to the border guard, and was waved through. However, this was about 10 years ago.

While this may not be sufficient these days, just having a high quality image of your passport on your person will help if you do need to prove your identity to the authorities.

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    Having someone vouch for you is sufficient to prove your identity in a police control in France. It's proving you have the right to be here that's a bit harder. – Najib Idrissi Oct 5 '16 at 13:50
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    It must have been quite a bit more than 10 years ago if your acquaintance had any encounter with a border guard while crossing between Germany and France. – Henning Makholm Oct 5 '16 at 14:48
  • Could be; I don't recall the details. – axsvl77 Oct 5 '16 at 14:58

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