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Visa requirements for long stays in France

One of the important first steps, and problems with the French bureaucracy, that people encounter when planning to move to France is to apply for the France visa. Find out if you need a visa to stay in France, which one is the best, and how to improve your chances of being well received at the consulate.

If you are an American and planning to visit for 90 days or more for any reason, you need a visa. If you plan to work, even if it is only for a month, you need one. If you are a journalist assigned in France or you have a diplomatic passport, no matter the duration of your visit, you need one. If you are from a member country of the European Union, or a citizen of Andorra, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Holly See or San Marino, you do not need a visa to visit or work. If you plan to visit Monaco or one of the French territories, check with the French Embassy or your local French consulate for more details.

These visas have slightly different rules.

Determine the type of visa you need. These are the basic types of visa:

  • A student visa
  • A long-term visa
  • A work permit visa

Please allow at least two months for the request to be processed. We received ours in a month, but I have heard from others who waited several months. It’s best to apply as soon as you have the required documents, which you should start collecting the moment you even decide to apply.

Make sure you request the correct consulate. It may not be the closest to you. If you are in the US, locate your local office with the map of the French Embassy of the French Consulates in the US.

I recommend AGAINST using a company to submit an application. My husband and I use the Zierer Visa Services, which had been established for many years. We thought it would be helpful to pay someone who knows the ins and outs of the system. A month after the company “applied” for us, we called the consulate to check the status. So we learned that personal appearance is always required for long-term visas, and that our application was not even in the system. If we had taken the exact same documents to the consulate instead of sending them to the company, we probably would have already had our visas.

Instead, we had to start from scratch and reapply.

If they request a document, always try to have more than the minimum requirements. For example, if you need two bank statements to prove your financial position, collect four. French government officials love it when you have too many documents and they are unhappy when you have too few.

As soon as you decide you want to apply, visit your nearest consulate right when you are working. Get the apps and ask any relevant questions you have on the desktop. This can be tremendously helpful. This is also useful because reaching consulates by phone can be almost impossible. Also, pay close attention (in fact, listen) to how consulate employees handle other requests. Are you repeatedly scolding people for forgetting a certain document? Do you often ask for a document that is not on the list?

Avoid getting on the bad side by learning from other people’s mistakes.

The French government is very quiet about the minimum requirements to establish that it can be maintained, but the word on the street is that it must have at least 1,000 euros per month for each adult. Do your best to exceed this threshold and you will improve your chances.

WHATEVER YOU DO, be sure to keep a copy of all necessary visa documents. Those documents (and probably even more) will be required once again when you arrive in France and apply for your carte de sejour or residence card. Leave a copy of all documents with a family member or friend at home and keep another copy. It is very easy to think that the worst is over once you have applied for that visa. In truth, you will go through a nearly identical procedure once you arrive and apply for your green card.

Visit early on the day you apply as there can be a very long line. Some consulates require an appointment, so check first. They can also have unusual hours. For example, the Washington DC consulate is open for walk-ins from morning to afternoon. Then close and accept calls in the afternoon (if you can get through). You cannot enter in the afternoon or contact a person in the morning.

French government workers have a horrible reputation for being nasty. This could not be further from the truth in my experience, both with officials in the United States and in France. What I have found is that they take the required documents very seriously. They are quite thorough. If you simply make the effort to follow the regulations, follow them closely, and actually exceed them, these bureaucrats are infinitely helpful. The worst French civilian workers I have come across are simply strict with the rules.

The best ones have provided extremely helpful advice on getting approvals and spent a lot of time answering endless questions.

Useful information about France

If you are thinking of staying long or working in France, it may help to know something about the customs of the country. Here are some useful articles on France.

  • New Regions of France
  • Main myths about France and the French people
  • What not to do in France
  • Fun facts about France

Below are the standard requirements when applying for a French student visa. Note that different consulates have variations of these rules, so be sure to check first.

There are three types of student visas available, depending on the duration of studies in France as indicated in the enrollment letter:

  • A Schengen visa, multiple entries, for a stay of up to 3 months – the student must use the short stay visa application form.
  • The temporary long-stay visa (from 3 to 6 months), multiple entries, is valid for the entire stay. The student does not need a green card. The student uses the long-term visa application form.
  • One year visa (stay of more than 6 months): the visa is valid 3 months, 1 entry. The student must use the long-term visa application form. Within this delay, and after arrival in France, students must complete the appropriate documentation with the French school or university, they must undergo a medical check-up by a doctor from the International Migration Office. They must then contact the “Police Prefecture” to obtain the student’s residence card (carte de sejour) and present there the visa, the original documents previously required for the visa, a birth certificate and medical results.

Requirements for a student visa

  • Passport signed and valid for a period of three months after the applicant’s last day in France.
  • Visa application forms signed and completed legibly (check with your consulate for the number of copies received and note that you cannot make a copy of your application. Each application received must be completed individually). Please print in black. Please provide your email and phone numbers. Indicate the dates of stay.
  • One passport size photograph pasted on each form. (Always have extra photos on hand just in case.)
  • A proof of US resident status for non-US citizens.
  • Self-addressed envelope if requested by mail. Only express mail, express mail, certified mail (a registered mail) will be accepted, if personal appearance will not be required. Keep in mind that personal appearance is the basic rule. (Assume you’ll need to make a personal appearance!)
  • “Student” visa fee: payment by credit card (Visa, Mastercard) (especially for files sent by post) or money order payable to the “Consulate General of France” or certified checks. Cash is accepted only if requested in person. Don’t assume you can pay by check.

You will need to provide the original and a copy of:

  • A proof of studies in the United States (letter from school or university)
  • An admission letter from the school the applicant plans to attend in France
  • Financial guarantee such as a notarized statement certifying that the applicant will receive a monthly allowance of $ 600.00 for the duration of their stay in France, or proof of personal income along with a letter from the school stating that room, food and Tuition is fully prepaid (+ 1 copy). If the host provides the student with a letter stating that the accommodation will be free and a copy of their photo identification, an allocation of $ 400.00 will be accepted. (Be sure to check these money minimums as they can change)
  • Proof of health insurance. For a stay of up to 6 months, students must present a letter from their insurance company stating that the coverage is valid in France. For a stay of more than 6 months, students under the age of 28 and enrolled in a French school affiliated with the French Social Security must join this social security. Students over the age of 28, or enrolled in a French school that is not affiliated with the French Social Security, cannot enroll and must present proof of insurance valid in France when applying for the residence card.
  • If you will be under 18 years of age on your arrival date or within three months of your arrival in France, you must have a notarized parental authorization, signed by both parents and indicating the name and occupation of the person designated as guardian of the minor during the period of stay

There are special situations with slightly different rules:

  • An intern only needs to present the first four items in the list of requirements, plus an award letter and indicating the amount of the scholarship and the length of stay in France. The applicant will also have to go for a medical check-up to a doctor accredited in this Consulate. The medical check-up is paid by the recipient of the scholarship, but the visa is free. To print the medical certificate form, click here.
  • If you will be under 18 years of age up to three months after your arrival in France, there are a number of different rules. You should check with your local consulate for details.

The general long-stay visa requirements can have a variety of different additional requirements, depending on whether you plan to open a business in France or in other situations. This is a basic guide, and you can be sure that these requirements will be necessary at the very least. Be sure to check with your local consulate for any additional documents you may need.

It is very important to note that applicants must apply for the visa in their country of residence before traveling. The French government does not allow an application within France. If you try, you will only be sent home to apply and wait a minimum of two months. Personal appearance is required for long-term visas.

To apply, make sure you have the following:

  • Passport signed and valid 3 months after the last day of stay.
  • Four long-stay visa application forms per applicant signed and completed legibly. Print in black. Please provide your email and phone numbers.
  • At least five recent passport-size photographs (4 pasted on the forms).
  • A proof of resident status in the country where you are applying.
  • A proof of employment in the country where you are applying
  • Financial guarantee such as:
    • Letter from your bank showing that you have sufficient means of support to live in France.
    • Justification of retirement pensions or regular income.
    • A notarized statement from your sponsor stating that he / she will be responsible for all your expenses and proof of your financial means. (+ 3 copies).
  • Proof of medical insurance with valid coverage in France (+ 3 copies). Letter from insurance company only.
  • A criminal record certificate to be obtained from the police office of the city of residence (+ 3 copies). I would recommend getting this record as soon as possible as some police stations take a few weeks to issue the record.
  • A note, dated and signed by the applicant, stating that they do not intend to have a paid professional activity in France that requires a work permit.
  • For the spouse of a French citizen, the “livret de famille” or a copy of the French marriage license, or the official French transcript of the marriage license when the marriage took place outside France. The French citizen must prove his nationality. Please note that a US citizen spouse of a French citizen who wishes to live in France does not need a visa. He or she must directly apply for a residence card once in France (with the “livret de famille”).
  • Processing fee: payment by credit card (Visa, Mastercard) (especially for files sent by mail) or money order made payable to the “Consulate General of France” or certified checks. Cash is accepted only if requested in person. There are no personal checks.

Probably the most difficult visa to obtain, these are the requirements for a work permit:

Please note that citizens of the European Union, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco are exempt from this procedure, as are foreign government employees and international civil servants who are assigned to a diplomatic mission or an international organization, and their employees , merchants, scientists, artists, sailors working on a ship parked in a port in France or members of the crew from the United States. That does NOT mean that you are exempt from visa requirements. Another procedure applies.

The foreign worker must obtain a draft contract from a French or foreign company in France. The employer in France submits an application to the relevant administration for approval, then a French consulate can issue a visa.

Computer Engineers: They must present the necessary documents for a short stay visa, even in the case of a long stay visa.

For a short-term work visa (up to three months), the employer in France must provide the prospective employee with a contract that has been endorsed by the DDTEFP (Direction d√©partementale du travail, de l’emploi et de la formation professionnelle). Then the prospective employee must apply for a short stay visa (Schengen visa) if necessary. This visa is valid for up to 3 months, and a green card is not required. The applicant must provide:

  • A passport valid for a period of three months beyond the last day of the applicant’s stay in the Schengen states. Make sure your passport has a blank page to place the visa.
  • Two complete and legible short stay visa application forms. Print in black. Please also provide your email and phone numbers.
  • Passport size photos attached to each form.
  • If you are an immigrant, a copy of the proof of residency status in the country where you are applying.
  • contract endorsed by the DDTEFP (+ 1 copy)
  • A proof of health / travel accident insurance with worldwide coverage (+ 1 copy).
  • Self-addressed envelope if requested by mail. Only express mail, express mail, certified mail (registered mail) will be accepted, if personal appearance will not be required. Keep in mind that personal appearance is the basic rule.
  • Processing fee: payment by credit card (Visa, Mastercard) (especially for files sent by mail) or money order made payable to the “Consulate General of France” or certified checks. Cash is accepted only if requested in person. Checks are rarely accepted at consulates.

For the long-stay visa, to obtain a work permit for your future employee, the employer must contact the OFII or the French Office for Immigration and Integration (this version of the website is in English).

To avoid complications, the names of the accompanying spouse and children under the age of 18 should be included in the worker’s file.

When the application is accepted, OFII sends the file to the French Consulate depending on the residence of the foreign worker and an email to the latter. The worker must submit an application in person at the corresponding consulate.

Documents to provide when applying

  • A passport valid for a period of three months beyond the last day of the applicant’s stay in the Schengen states. Make sure your passport has a blank page to place the visa.
  • Two complete and legible long-stay visa application forms. Please print in black. Please also provide your email and phone numbers.
  • Passport-size photographs glued to the forms.
  • Proof of resident status in the country where you are applying, if you are an immigrant
  • The visa fee: payment by credit card (Visa, Mastercard) (especially for files sent by mail) or money order payable to the “Consulate General of France” or certified checks. Cash is accepted only if requested in person. There are no personal checks.

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