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French Long Stay Visa Application Process

Preparing your visa de long séjour application


If you're American and want to live in France for an extended period of time, you need a visa de long séjour before you go and a carte de séjour once you get there. Having gone through the entire process, I put together this article explaining everything I know about it. Please note that this information applied to an American couple with no children who wanted to spend one year in France without working, and was accurate as of June 2006. I cannot answer questions about your situation. Please confirm everything with your French embassy or consulate.

Here are the requirements for the long stay visa application as listed on the French Embassy website if you apply in Washington D.C. (see Notes):
  1. Passport + 3 photocopies
    Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond last day of stay, with a blank page for the visa
  2. 4 long stay visa application forms
    Filled out in black ink and signed
  3. 5 photographs
    1 glued to each application form + one extra (see Notes)
  4. Financial guarantee + 3 copies
    There is no official amount given, but the general consensus on the internet seems to be that you should have 2,000 euros per person per month. The financial guarantee may be any of the following:
       * Formal letter of reference from the bank showing account numbers and balances
       * Recent bank/brokerage/retirement account statements
       * Proof of income from employer
  5. Medical insurance with coverage valid in France + 3 copies
    The only acceptable proof is a letter from insurance company stating that you will be covered in France for at least $37,000. Your insurance card is *not* sufficient; you have to request an actual letter from the insurance company. This should be no problem if you have international or travel insurance; your insurance company in the US will probably not be able to do this for you (and may not even cover you), but give them a call to be sure.
  6. Police clearance + 3 copies
    Document obtained from your local police station stating that you have no criminal record
  7. Letter certifying that you will not have any paid activity in France
    Handwritten, signed, and dated
  8. Visa fee - 99 euros
    Cash or credit card
The first thing to do when you decide you want to spend an extended period of time in France is figure out when to go. Give yourself at least two weeks (I needed a month) to gather all of the documents. The application process can take up to two months, so you will therefore need to allow yourself at least 2½ months to apply for and obtain the visa. But there's no rush - you have up to a year to actually leave for France once you have the visa in hand.

Go to your local police station and ask about the police clearance, as that can take a couple of weeks. Then apply for your insurance and deal with the financial guarantee documents. You also need to figure out where you'll be staying in France - if it's a hotel, even just at first, make a reservation and ask them to fax you confirmation. If it's with a friend, you'll need a letter and a copy of his/her carte de résident - see Additional notes, below.

Once you have all of your documents in order, make a final photocopy of everything to keep for yourself. This is essential, as you will need it when you arrive in France and have to apply for your carte de séjour.

The Consulate at which you will apply for your visa depends on which state you live in, not necessarily which one is closest to you. Click here to find your Consulate.

Living in France Legally
   Preparing your visa de long séjour application
   Applying for a visa de long séjour
   Applying for a carte de séjour
   Renewing a carte de séjour
   Additional notes and tips
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