Long Stay Visa/France

My husband and I are planning to move to Paris in 2013. I have the list of 14 requirements necessary to obtain a Long Stay Visa. We are US citizens. Since we live in the Seattle, WA area, obtaining this Long Stay Visa requires us to make a personal appearance at the Consulate General of France in San Francisco with the 14 items (plus photo copies.) I have had much conflicting advice on the need to go through this process but admit that the advice has not come from folks who have lived longer than 90 days in France, since the 1st of June 2009(when this long term Visa became available.) Most travelers tell me not to bother getting the Long Stay Visa-they say just go there, find a place to live and leave the country after 90 days if we have to. Advice? One of the 14 requirements for the Long Term Visa is to have proof of accommodation in France (title deeds, lease or rental agreement.) Can we use a hotel address to meet his requirement? We don't know where we want to live until after we get there? Thanks for any help/advice

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2394 posts

No one here should be telling you to just go and hope you don't get caught. Not only does that break the rules here, but it's just plain bad advice. People that overstay can be deported, pay fines and pay for that-day plane tickets, amongst other things such as being banned from re-entering. It does happen. Also, since none of us are immigration experts, our advice will mostly be guesses. Maybe someone that has recently obtained a long-term (non-student) visa can help here, but mostly you are better off talking directly to the French consulate.

Posted by Liz
Malaga, Malaga, Spain
410 posts

While I cannot comment specifically re France we did move from Australia to Spain about 5 yrs ago, obtaining long term visas. There was the same requirement for proof of residence, either rental or otherwise. We went to Spain to sort out various reqs, this included, and just took a Short term rental. I would not advise you to just move.

Posted by JB
Redding, CA, USA
1568 posts

Just curious. Are the two of you retired with a fixed retirement income? Or do you plan to find work once you are there?

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10888 posts

Don't even think of the idea of working. You would need a work permit and that would open a huge can of worms. Without the support of an European company, the probability of a work permit is zero. Part of the reason for all of the paper work Brenda described is to prove that you do not need to work.

Posted by Brenda
Poulsbo, WA, USA
4 posts

My husband and I will be retired by the end of this year, do not plan to work in France and have income sufficient not to work.

Posted by Liz
Malaga, Malaga, Spain
410 posts

The long term visa/residency in Spain specifically precludes working. One of us is retired, the other works outside Spain some of the year. I guess you may be able to do it with an Internet based business, have no idea really as has not been relevant to us. France may be a little better but unemployment in Spain is very very high and wages low. Proof of income, on an ongoing basis, is a requirement to renew the visa. Without knowing any detail I think your accommodation issue is possibly more easily resolved than others. It is certainly not easy for non EU citizens to live legally in the EU.

Posted by Liz
Malaga, Malaga, Spain
410 posts

The long term visa/residency in Spain specifically precludes working. One of us is retired, the other works outside Spain some of the year. I guess you may be able to do it with an Internet based business, have no idea really as has not been relevant to us. France may be a little better but unemployment in Spain is very very high and wages low. Proof of income, on an ongoing basis, is a requirement to renew the visa. Without knowing any detail I think your accommodation issue is possibly more easily resolved than others. It is certainly not easy for non EU citizens to live legally in the EU.

Posted by Liz
Malaga, Malaga, Spain
410 posts

Apologies for duplicate post and to Brenda, as I had not read your post about income.

Posted by Dina
Fontainebleau, France
893 posts

If you want to actually live in France you will need to apply for the long-stay visa. You must dot all your i's and cross all your t's, but it can be done. Temporary accomodations will be acceptable for this process. You can book a hotel, rent a gite, or get a vacation rental. You should expect to need to provide proof of your lodgings. Although they list 14 requirements (and I haven't looked at this list), this does not mean they will ask you for all of them, or that they won't suddenly ask for a 15th (or 16th...) Let it be your first introduction to the confusing world of French beauracracy. Since you are traveling far for your appointment, I suggest you bring anything and everything they may expect from you. Make sure you have official translations where required and the correct form of things like marriage licenses and birth certificates. (For example, my PA birth certificate that I used for a driver's license, SS#, etc. was not acceptable for French immigration and I had to get a different "long form" one.) Bon Courage!

Posted by JB
Redding, CA, USA
1568 posts

Brenda, got for it but do it legal. Hope all goes well....ENJOY!

Posted by BG
Albany, CA, USA
1410 posts

I obtained a French Long term visa from the consulate in San Francisco last year. I had arranged to rent a vacation apartment for 4 months, and used that address as my residence. I didn't have a formal rental agreement, just an email from the owner confirming my rental and receipt of deposits. I assume you could use a hotel address also, though not sure. I produced a lot of financial documents, a notarized letter stating I would not work while here, and proof of medical coverage. Once in France, French immigration contacts you and you have to go to a local office and check in, go through a physical and be further processed. You have to provide some information about your medical history, and have a chest X-ray.
I just went through all of this at the beginning of this year.

Posted by Kathy
Germany, Germany
800 posts

I suggest you go to Paris for a long weekend now to narrow down your options of where you want to live. While there you can meet with some real estate rental agencies and establish a relationship with them. They should be able to help you find what you are looking for, possibly even knock out a long term contract and put down a deposit on some place. Then when it comes time to provide documentation of a residence, you have that requirement sorted. Even if you don't find someplace the weekend you visit, the rental company can keep looking and you can work on that while working on your other necessary paperwork.

Posted by rosabella
chico
1 posts

First, it is difficult to rent a place for residency...before you have official permissin to live in France. It's because of the rental laws. It's almost impossible to evict one fram a rental. If you are there for holidays, it's easy to rent for a maximum of 90 days, you're not an official resident. owners have no problem with holiday renters. No, you can't use a hotel as a place for residency. This part should be on the France site for embassy/consulate website. Do you have friends who live there, and might be able help? I had a friend who ran into the same roadblocks as you. She made a few trips over and stayed at the same place each time, she asked the owners if they would consider renting to her for a couple years. They agreed. It takes work. I would also suggest if you bank here in the states, is it a bank that has an oversea branch in France? if so, consider opening an account there, again it may be difficult w/o residency, but it can be done. whoever you rent from and utilities will require a bank account, everything is paid by auto-withdrawl. Everything. You might look into hotels that are resident hotels, there used to be many of them. Buy France Living magazines, there are pages of places for sale and to rent. Good Luck.
My sister and I are retiring to France next year. I've done research for years, and have made many trips , also, have made many contacts and friends. I found when I explored area outside of Paris and tourists spots, it was easier, more relaxed, and many places to rent.Leanr the language, at least a few phrases, it's much appreciated, even when you screw up. I have nevr met a rude frendh person, never.

Posted by Dina
Fontainebleau, France
893 posts

Rosabella - I suggest you do a bit more research. Yes, it isn't straightforward to get an unfurnished apartment/house rental. But it is certainly doable. A typical lease for an unfurnished place is 3 years. (Typical for a furnished is 1 year.) And you really can't get a lease without a French bank account. And a bank usually won't give you an account unless you're a resident with an address. A way that it is commonly done is to get a short term vacation rental or hotel. (I know people who have shown resident-type hotel reservations to get visas approved.) Upon arrival, you will need to set up a bank account. You need a "justificatif de domicile" which is usually a gas or electric bill in your name with an address. But - if you don't have one and explain to the bank that you're new and don't have a bill - you can get some banks to send a registered letter to you at your temporary address. If it's successfully delivered to you, you bring it in as proof that you are living where you claim you're living. Then they'll let you open a bank account with that and your visa/residency card. You'll be able to transfer a bunch of money in from the US (for a fee) and voila! You have a French bank account, an address, and can now apply for long-term rentals. The thing that makes this all much easier is being able to speak the language. The more you can learn before you arrive, the better.

Posted by Brenda
Poulsbo, WA, USA
4 posts

Thank you for all the advice we received re the long term Visa requirements for living in Paris in 2013. My husband and I flew to San Francisco for our scheduled (on line appt only) at the French Consulate in the second week of November. We had our list of 14 required items with photo copies in a nice big packet. We did our best to provide all items exactly as they were listed on the Consulate web site. One big question that never got answered before we flew from Seattle was, "Can we use a hotel address as proof of residency?" The answer was yes! The other question that our travel agent could not get answered was, "Can we book a round trip flight (much less expensive than a one way flight) with a 6 month (you cannot book a return trip flight for a longer time than that) return and still obtain the 1 year visa? Again the answer was yes. The interviewer understood immediately that we intended to extend the 6 month return flight but had booked it only to get the lower air fair. The entire interview took only about 15 minutes. The very friendly and helpful Frenchman who reviewed our application was considerate, kind and even let us practice rudimentary French. Our visas were mailed back to us in the self addressed stamped manila envelope that we provided, within a week of our appointment. We fly to Paris on 1/28/13 and hope to find a great apartment right away.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8760 posts

Brenda, All my best wishes for a quick result to your apartment search, and I hope everything works out well. Now you can be one of our expat contributors answering the questions of others... I'm glad everything worked out so well...

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8760 posts

Brenda, that date would be 28/1/2013 in French.

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1970 posts

Brenda, Felicitations!
That was very considerate and informative of you to send a follow-up post. It will certainly help others in the future.