International Living’s Guide to Visas and Residency in France
For visits of less than 90 days, North American citizens need a passport but not an entry visa. Staying longer, though, means applying for a visa de séjour temporaire (a residency visa) from your nearest French consulate in the U.S. or Canada. This isn’t something you can apply for while you’re vacationing in France. The authorities do not allow you to change your status from tourist to resident without jumping through the right hoops.
Generally, it isn’t difficult for North American retirees to gain long-term residency in France, but you should check out your particular situation before making plans.
Plenty of documentation will be needed. Current requirements are as follows:
• A passport, signed and valid for three months after the last day of stay. Original plus a photocopy
• Eight separate application forms (three for each child), signed and legibly filled out. You are asked to print in black ink
• Eight passport-size photos per individual (three for each child) glued to the forms
• Non-U.S./Canadian citizens will also need evidence of current legal residency status
• One long-term application annex, which must be completed, dated, signed, and notarized
• Financial guarantees, such as a letter from your bank manager stating that you have sufficient income or means to live in France, or proof of a retirement pension
• Proof of medical insurance that covers you for any necessary treatment you might need in France. The proof should take the form of two copies of a letter from your insurance company
• Proof of lodging in France, such as lease, promise of a lease, or the title to a property in France. Or a letter from a legal resident of France stating that he will provide for your accommodation
• For the spouse of a French citizen, a livret de famille or a copy of the French marriage license, or the official French transcript of the marriage license if the marriage took place outside France. The French citizen must prove his nationality
• A written statement from you, signed and dated, that you will neither seek nor accept any work during your stay
• Visa fee: The current fee for an extended-stay visa per application is $135, but it can vary. The exact fee will depend on the prevailing currency exchange rate on the date that the visa is issued
Once you have gathered together all the necessary documents, you can apply in person, by mail, or by courier to the French consulate general covering your area. (Some application procedures require you to apply in person.) It will take one to two months to process your application. If you hope to work in France or are intending to establish a business, other permits are required.
For help or further details, contact: Embassy of France, 4101 Reservoir Road N.W., Washington, D.C., 20007; tel.(202)944-6195; fax (202)944-6148; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.info-france-usa.org.
Being issued with a residency visa is only the start of the bureaucratic fun. Once in France, you then must apply for a residency card from the administrative offices of your local préfecture, the département’s main town. Depending on status, two types are issued to foreigners: the carte de séjour and the carte de résident. Most foreigners (unless married to a French citizen or the parent of a French-born child) are issued a carte de séjour.
For the first three years in France, you will be required to renew your carte de séjour temporaire. After three years, you can request the 10-year carte de résident, which is automatically renewable. This allows holders to work as salaried employees in France. Note, though, that a 10-year card isn’t granted as a right. As with a residency visa, a great deal of documentation is needed before your carte is issued:
• Valid passport with the long-stay visa plus photocopy of passport title page and French visa page
• Three recent passport photos
• Proof of financial resources
• Proof of medical insurance or a medical certificate issued by a doctor approved by the French Consulate. (Full translation of details of foreign medical insurance is required, also.)
• Proof of domicile in France
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