Please sign in to post.

Traveling from the US to France in August on Long Stay Visa/Student Visa

Yes, it may sound crazy, but we (a family of 4) are planning to do that. Our children will start school on Sept 1 (hopefully) in the Toulouse area. Our visas are being processed (student visas for the kids, visitor visas for my wife and I).

I have several questions. First of all, we are looking at flights right now. There seem to be very, very few, and to be very expensive. Any thoughts on whether new flights are likely to be added?

Second, one of our flight options goes through Barcelona. On long stay visas, do we have to first land IN France, or can we land in another Schengen country (like Spain)?

Any thoughts on how likely it is that we have to quarantine upon arrival in France? Does anybody know how quarantines (mandatory or voluntary) are being handled? We are willing to do this if necessary, but I'd sure like to know a little about what we are getting into ahead of time. Oh, and, we will have a small dog with us.

Posted by
118 posts

You are asking for definitive answers on visa/quarantine questions, so contact the French Embassy. For flight info contact airlines.

Posted by
1873 posts

Welcome to the forum! If you do have the Visas in order for France, then from my understanding you should be allowed to travel to Toulouse via Barcelona under the new EU directives. See page 7 and 10 (lines, vi, vii, and x):

Where temporary travel restrictions continue to apply to a third country, the following
categories of persons should be exempted from the travel restriction, independent of the
purpose of travel:
(a) Union citizens within the meaning of Article 20(1) TFEU and third-country nationals
who, under agreements between the Union and its Member States, on the one hand,
and those third countries, on the other hand, enjoy rights of free movement
equivalent to those of Union citizens, as well as their respective family members.
(b) third-country nationals who are long-term residents under the Long-term Residence
Directive persons deriving their right to reside from other EU Directives or national
law or who hold national long-term visas, as well as their respective family members.

Annex II
Specific categories of travellers with an essential function or need:
vi. Passengers in transit;
vii. Passengers travelling for imperative family reasons;
viii. Seafarers
ix. Persons in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons
x. Third-country nationals travelling for the purpose of study;
xi. Highly qualified third-country workers if their employment is necessary from an
economic perspective and the work cannot be postponed or performed abroad.

You will find this very helpful: https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-9208-2020-INIT/en/pdf

The current EU directives/lists will be updated every two weeks, so it's best to double check with the relevant government agencies in France a couple of weeks before your departure.

Posted by
6174 posts

Since flights are carrying a very narrow group of approved passengers, I wouldn't expect airlines to add flights unless entry to France becomes more relaxed and they can count on a higher passenger load. It's likely bare-bones now, and low supply means higher fares for those few who have to fly there. Also, you are looking at flight prices less than one month in advance of your trip, which is generally not recommended (it's way late to score a great fare).

Official entry info:
https://fr.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you Carlos. That was one of our uncertainties: Whether we would be regarded as "Long Term Residents" at the beginning of our Visa period. What you shared says "yes".

Our other concern is that we have to get our Visa stamped (and then get it registered with the French authorities. I would think that the entry stamp in Barcelona should be considered equivalent to a French stamp and won't matter. But if anybody has contrary (or supporting) thoughts, that would be helpful.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks Agnes. We are aware that we may have to quarantine. But one of my big questions is what the details of that are. There are none available anywhere on the internet and the embassy is swamped with inquiries and not answering them. Where? What conditions? What cost? At point of entry or final destination? Things like that.

Posted by
8617 posts

Seriously, contact the French consulate with your questions. If someone here gives you an answer that turns out to be wrong, that's not an excuse when you get to the border.

Posted by
5 posts

To clarify, again, I am not asking questions about official French policies and procedures. Those are readily available and understood. And the embassy/consul is virtually unreachable at the moment for these other questions and/or does not know. For example, they know nothing about quarantines. Yes, they know that you might have to quarantine. But they know nothing about how the quarantine actually is managed and implemented. Which is the question I am actually asking.

Posted by
1163 posts

Stephen Heiner is pretty adamant that you want to land in France directly from a NON-Schengen country to start your French visa.

"Visas are being processed"? You mean you've completed the applications?

Until those passports are back in your hands with the proper visa stamps in them, they ain't been processed.

And yes, you're on the right track. The published regulations are one thing, actual life and actual experience is another.

I'd recommend contacting Stephen (American in Paris) and/or Jean Taquet (French lawyer).

Posted by
6801 posts

Everyone I know who has returned, French citizens or permanent residents, has quarantined in their apartments for two weeks. Nobody wanted them out and about. The government also has hotels requisitioned. But you should quarantine even if nobody is sealing you into an apartment.

Your proposed situation is different, so if the Consulate doesn't know, you will find out if you can use your residence or a hotel when you get there.

Two family members flew back to Paris from LA on Air France. If you are transporting an animal, you want a direct flight on a carrier that is good with animals, like Air France. If the animal has to go into cargo, it won't be accepted during very hot weather.

Initial resident visas are not being processed at this time, only work, student, and one other kind of visa. I assume your children are getting some sort of exceptional student visa, if you are being processed. However, you may want to hold off buying tickets until the Consulate has interviewed you and mailed you the visas.

Posted by
11431 posts

I would never travel with an animal using a non direct non stop flight . Never .

Posted by
1081 posts

Flights continue between the USA and France albeit on a very reduced schedule. I should not expect schedules to change much until everyone from the USA is allowed into the EU. That might be by the time you leave. It might not.

It will make absolutely no difference how you reach France, via Barcelona is fine. Restrictions on travel within Schengen are recinded and will not be a factor. You enter Schengen (Barcelona in this case) with your passport which will have the VLS/TS sticker which is all you need. Airport Immigration does not really care about your long stay visa when entering as long as your paperwork is otherwise in order. I might have an Attestation de déplacement filled out and ready but your airline will advise you. Immigration will take a look at your passport when you depart Schengen to be sure you have not exceeded the legal time limit of your stay. In Schengen countries, unlike the USA, passports are checked both entering and exiting.

As stated above, traveling with an animal complicates things a bit and will not be easy for your pet. Pets must have their own Pet Passports, which you get from a Vet, and there are formalities which the Vet will help you with. I assume you are taking your dog with you in the cabin. Charges are typically about $100 for on board pets. Theorically, pet paperwork is checked at Schengen entry but authorities rarely do this. Just be ready in case.

Quarantine is voluntary. No one locks you into your accommodations and prevents your leaving. Just keep exposure to others minimal, trips for food and necessities only, and wear your mask when outside.

Overall, differences between travel now and before the virus are not huge other than the obvious restrictions.

Posted by
1163 posts

Again, check with Stephen and/or Jean on where best to get the stamp. Not only that, but where exactly they should put the stamp in the passport.

Posted by
1081 posts

I would think that the entry stamp in Barcelona should be considered equivalent to a French stamp and won't matter.

The OFII, which is the ruling entity for all who enter France as first time long stay visa holders, will note your entry date into the Schengen as stamped on your passport. This is just a normal entry stamp and it does not matter into which Schengen country you enter. Your stay as a long term resident starts when you enter Schengen be it through Spain, directly into France, or via Greece. It does not matter, particularly now that travel restrictions among Schengen countries are rescinded.

What you must have in your passport is the VLS/TS sticker which is placed there by the French consulate/embassy granting your long term status. Within 6 months, the OFII releases you to the Préfecture corresponding to where you live in France. Visa renewals are then handled at this Préfecture (unless you move).

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you to the many replies. I will contact Stephen Heiner.

Just a bit of clarification: The dog is small and will be under the seat in front of us. But yes, we have decided to fly direct to Paris and quarantine there (friends have a place for us to stay in isolation if need be). My only concern was that the authorities might force us into their own quarantine (not inherently a problem with caveats). But that doesn't sound like it will happen. That, from the consulate. Yes, I have consulted them (many times) on the things that they are informed and authoritative on, which are not the questions I've asked here.

We'll drive to Toulouse after any necessary quarantine.

Posted by
287 posts

You will find that even after complying with all the rules people will not be particularly welcoming. They won't be agressive or rude, but they will be suspcious of a recently arrived foreigner with an American accent. I know Americans who live here who get treated suspciously if they travel to places too far from their own town.

It's far to early to know what will happen in August as far as reclosing/opening of borders. Already parts of Spain have re-entered lockdown. If too many more have to do so I can see the French/Spanish border being closed again.

Posted by
1163 posts

Let us know when you actually have the visas in hand. Someone told me today that French consulates in the US are not currently issuing visas.

As for how the Parisians will treat you--who cares?!

Posted by
1343 posts

Also state department is moving super slow on apostilles, hopefully OP factored this in, I assume so if visas "are being processed."

Posted by
849 posts

Wow, the above article breaks my heart. I was an English teaching assistant in France after my undergrad in 2008 and it was the most life altering experiences of my life. I hate to think that many people will not have that experience this year.

Posted by
6801 posts

At the end of the article, the government officials say they are confirming that the program is going ahead, and they are confident about it. The assistants just don’t know when to buy tickets. As the title says, limbo. But, what was the point of all the preceding paragraphs quoting participants speaking of angst, lost opportunities, lost jobs, that implied that the teaching assistants are being left high and dry?

Posted by
389 posts

You should contact the US EMBASSY and the airline you are flying on. The Embassy for a written response and the airline to see if their understanding of current situation will allow them to permit you to board. I received a response from the French Embassy within 36 hours and accurate boarding information instantly from the airline I will travel on.

Like one other person posting here commented.....this is not the place to get any hard and fast instructions....we’re all amateurs here no matter how many countries we’ve visited or number of posts made on RS.

In any event, good luck!

Posted by
6 posts

May I ask the OP the ages of your children? We had planned to move to France this summer with an 8 year old child that had been pre-approved for enrollment in the local school but I had assumed that the student visa would not be applicable...

Posted by
1163 posts

"But, what was the point of all the preceding paragraphs quoting participants speaking of angst, lost opportunities, lost jobs, that implied that the teaching assistants are being left high and dry?"

Good question that pertains to most things written on The Local. Not exactly stellar prose, nor quick to get to or stay on the point.

Posted by
1081 posts

Good question that pertains to most things written on The Local.

The Local is nothing other than a handful of articles from the French Press which have been translated and presented in English. One never really knows the source of the information nor the quality of the translations. I would rather see people reference articles directly from their original source or from a recognized English news service.

Posted by
287 posts

I agree with Tochard about The Local - excpt to say that the original French is interpreted rather than translated. It always seems that if they encounter an ambiguity when are translating articles from the French they choose the less accurate option

Posted by
1163 posts

I learned today the distinction between tourist and immigrant.

Those with visas in hand (immigrants) are able to enter France, certainly from the US, anyway.

Posted by
1081 posts

Are those living in France on titres de séjour or cartes de séjour defined as immigrants?

Posted by
36 posts

Grapecraft,
The quarantine is 'voluntary' for people without symptoms. You will be made to go into a compulsory quarantine at a government facility if you have symptoms of COVID19 on arrival. They do check passengers' temperature on arrival but most people don't notice them while they are doing this. It's a person at a computer just before exiting before customs nothing to declare where a camera is registering the temperature of passengers passing by. I saw the operator stop someone so they aren't letting everyone past. I also saw signs showing the way to a COVID19 testing center for arriving passengers at the airport so I imagine that if you have a temperature, you'll be getting tested on arrival.

I hope you get your visas in time, France is lovely and I'm glad to be back home. Was a 180 from the states, you'll be happy to be here.

As to your dog, make sure you bring proof of rabies vaccine and your dog needs the electronic transponder. You also need the proper EU health certificate issued within 10 days of travel.

Posted by
6801 posts

A free, voluntary testing program began this week at some entry airports. The results are available online in 24 hours. This is restricted to only people coming from hot spots, like the US.