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Moving PlannerVisa Information for France

Update (02/2008): It’s been reported to me that the EU is cracking down on those overstaying their three month visa. It was reported that in Frankfurt travelers returning to the US were stopped and detained for lack of a long term visa. A fine was waived but they had to get a long term visa.
If you have any info on this please contact me.

The information below is a bit dated and might not be pertinent anymore, so use at your own risk. Here’s a good blog post from October 2011 that explains how an American got their carte de sejour – long term visa.

If you would like to stay longer than three months in France then you have some work to do. If you are in the states then I would suggest that you get in contact with the French embassy or nearest consulate. Here is the French Embassy web site that lists all consulates in the United States. When dealing with French bureaucracy be patient, you can sometimes get conflicting information when asking two different people. Just before I came to France this last time, I called the consulate in Boston to find out what I needed in the way of a visa. At first I was told that I needed to get a long term visa, this in tales a physical, proof of health insurance and other annoying stuff. Then I called back and was told that I did not need to get a long term visa and that everything would be taken care of at my closest Préfecture or Sous Préfecture, the government office that handles most administrative functions in France. Needless to say I took the easier route and had no problems.
A year after arriving there was a slight problem, when I went to renew my Carte de Sejour the woman at the Préfecture told me that in fact I should have had long term visa before coming to France. She said that my file would need to be 'reviewed' before I could get a ten year Carte de Sejour. She also said that it should not be a problem. It just might mean some more paperwork. So my suggestion is get the long term visa before you come to France.

If you are in France and would like to continue your stay and would like to acquire a Carte de Sejour you are going to have to get in contact with your nearest Préfecture. Again be prepared to not always get a straight answer or receive conflicting information. Just bring all your paper work, birth certificate, passport, etc. Also bring copies of all you documents; often you need leave a photocopy of you passport and birth certificate.

The first time I was in France I was in a similar situation to someone that would just like to live in France and not have the right to work. I arrived with a six-month visa, this was done for me in the states so I do not know what the process was. The six month visa was not necessary as the first day I arrived I was taken to Préfecture, to get the ball rolling on my Carte de Sejour. I had to supply a proof of health insurance, my passport, four passport size photos and letter proving I had enough money to support myself. I then received a temporary Carte de Sejour, that was good for three months. Following this, every three months for a year I had to report back to the Préfecture to extend my Carte de Sejour. I did this for over a year and then I received a Carte de Sejour that was good for a year, after I passed a physical. I never understood why I needed to keep coming back every three months; it got to be a real pain.

For this last time, as I said before it was much easier, first I went to the Préfecture with my French wife and got a list of everything I needed. Then we went back to the Préfecture with all our paperwork and in about 15 minutes I received my Carte de Sejour, good for a year with the right to work in France. The only thing that was a bother was the orientation I was required to take. The orientation consisted of a video about France, meeting with an immigration officer and a physical, in total it took up a morning.

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