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long term visa for France

I am interested in getting a long term visa (visa de long sejour). I looked on the French consulate website, and one of the requirements is "Travel document, valid for at least three months after the planned date of return, issued less than 10 years ago and with at least 2 blank visa pages and photocopy of passport pages." What sort of travel document are they referring to? A passport? Do I have to submit (by mail) the original of the travel document? Thanks. Peter Dodd

Posted by
10669 posts

Yes, a passport. We did this when we applied to Italy for an Elective Residence visa. We surrendered our passports to the French Consulate along with our application during our interview. They assured us we would get the visa "in a few days" and we supplied a pre-paid addressed FedEx envelope for them, per instructions on the website. In the event a visa was not granted, their practice was to return the passport "in a few days." I suspect the French process is similar?

An expat forum for Americans living in France might be a good source for "we did this" information.

Posted by
8293 posts

If no one here has an answer, I suggest you contact the French
Embassy in DC, Visa Section. Also there are on line ex-pat American in France websites where you may find guidance.*

Posted by
1030 posts

I can't speak specifically about France, but when I have applied for visas in Asia I have had to mail my passport to the consulate or embassy. They literally paste the visa into your passport. That's why they need the 2 blank pages and the original passport.

Posted by
678 posts

Yeah, we have guys at work that go overseas, I'm forever seeing their passports come back in FEDEX with the visas.

Posted by
9403 posts

As part of the application process, once the initial application has been approved, you have to make an appointment, a separate appointment for each family member, at one of their Visa Application Centers. This is for fingerprints and photos for your biometric visa. This is where you give them your passport. You might have to travel quite a distance and stay overnight as they are only in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, and Los Angeles.

As dual citizens we check and double-check to make sure we have everything ready and try to get as much as possible done each time we make the overnight trip to our consulate here in the States. It's a schlep, but that's the way it is.

Posted by
2361 posts

Does this include your own freelance work that you do on the Internet/computer for clients outside of France?

I shall ultimately defer to information from the French embassy but living in France means your completing French income tax forms requiring you to declare worldwide income.

Since the responses to this question have diverged somewhat from the original question, I thought I would add to the last comment to note that there's a tax treaty between the U.S. and France that, in effect, means that an American expat living in France would owe no income tax to France on total worldwide income as long as it doesn't exceed an agreed-upon value in any particular year. The value increases slightly each year, but if I recall correctly the value is now between $100,000 and $105,000.

If your income exceeds that threshold, then you would owe some tax on income to France in addition to your normal tax liability to the U.S.

But if your income is below that threshold, then you only would owe tax to the U.S. Yes, you would have to report that income to the French authorities, but you would not owe any tax on that income in France.

There are other taxes to consider (beyond the value added tax on purchases); specifically, the habitation tax (including television tax if you have one) and the cotisation for healthcare costs, if you exceed about 9,500 euros per year in taxable income per year. If you do, participation in the French healthcare system would cost you about 8 percent on any income above 9,500 euros per year. If you're under that amount, you pay nothing for the privilege (actually, the obligation) for being involved in the French healthcare system. You still would have some copays and prescription costs (unless you pay for supplemental insurance) but it's a pretty small obligation compared to U.S. healthcare costs.

What's amazing for retirees is that retirement income (pensions, Social Security, IRAs, 401(k) accounts) are considered pensions in France and are not considered income for the purposes of healthcare costs. So, one could have $50,000, $70,000, or $90,000 of "income" from retirement accounts and pensions yet owe nothing for the privilege of participating in the French health care system, other than the co-pays and sundry other costs that can be largely eliminated by buying relatively inexpensive supplemental experience (called a "mutuelle").

It's a pretty good deal for retirees. If one decides to live in the countryside or a small town (but big enough to have a hospital), one could have access to darn good medical care at a negligible cost while also having a low cost of housing due to being outside of Paris, Lyon, Nice, Nantes, or other high-cost locations. And that would make the cost of living in France as a retiree pretty attractive for those willing to take the dive, as long as they have sufficient resources in savings or pension income to demonstrate that they won't become a burden on the French social services system.

Laurel and Norma above suggested engaging with expat forums geared toward this kind of question. I would recommend Expat Forum's French website as a starting point. There are some very knowledgeable people there, along with some considerably sarcastic UK expats, and I suspect most questions along these lines would receive quick, informed responses. .

Posted by
3380 posts

If you are on Facebook there is a group called Americans Living in France. You should be able to get an answer quite quickly there - extremely instructive information from those who have been there / done that. You can even just search it on that page and find an answer.

Posted by
10669 posts

Wow, Matt, the tax situation in France is a lot more attractive than in Italy. Great info. Now I just have to learn French and convince my spouse. 😱

Posted by
2361 posts

an American expat living in France would owe no income tax to France on total worldwide income as long as it doesn't exceed an agreed-upon value in any particular year.

There is a US/French agreement allowing US citizens resident in France a 5 year tax holiday on income. I am not aware of any current agreed-upon annual maximum amount, under which one would owe no French taxes.

While it is true that US sourced retirement or retirement income equivalents are not subject to French taxes, they must still be reported on the French declaration form 2047 and all income must be reported on form 2042.

Anyone resident in France with a no work visa yet having income outside of France may want to consult with a tax/legal specialist in reference to his legal visa status.