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Top Questions & Misconceptions About Visas for France

Top Questions & Misconceptions about Visas for France

As an expat in France (and I suppose officially a long-term expat now, as weird as that feels to say), I get a lot of questions and hear a lot of misconceptions about visas for France, especially about renewals. Though there are a lot of great resources individually for each of these topics below, based on the posts I see in many expat Facebook groups, the French government doesn’t do a great job of clarifying the rules- and they write it all online in French, with terminology that is not always easy for even a fluent speaker to understand. So based on what I’ve learned from my own trial and error and what I’ve taken away from the answers of those more in-the-know than I am, here is my crash course on the most common questions and misconceptions about visas for France!

Do I need a visa to come to France?

If you’re staying less than 3 months total, nope! However, if you’re planning a more permanent move, this is probably the most major factor you will need to consider. It’s not possible to come to the country and try to find a way to stay longer- that will at best get you a slap on the wrist when you decide to leave and at worst result in a ban from all the Schengen states for an indeterminate amount of time. Finding a job here can be difficult as well; companies have to prove that you and only you can do the job instead of hiring a French or European person, which can prove costly to them in terms of time and paperwork.

If your company doesn’t have offices in France or isn’t willing to transfer you, the two most popular options are to come on a student visa and take classes, be they for French or cooking or art, or a long stay visitor visa. You are allowed to work 60% of full time with the former (964 hours total per year) and are not allowed to work with the latter, but if you work remotely for an employer based outside of France, this could be an ideal situation for you. The acquisition of either of these is mainly contingent on you having enough funds (either already in a bank account or current proof of income, like payslips) to prove you can support yourself for one year (and being enrolled in a school if you are a student). If you do a Master’s degree at a French university, you are allowed to stay for 1 year after you finish your degree on a special visa (an autorisation provisoire de séjour, or APS) that allows you to look for a job, and can subsequently stay (without the company having to pay the sponsorship fees) if you’re hired in your field of study for at least 1.5x the minimum wage. If you like kids, you could also become an au pair like I did!

These who come to France to be with their significant other may find these rules to be frustrating- I get it, you just want to be with the person you love! But my theory here is this: anyone can do anything for a year. If you plan on spending the rest of your life with this person, what’s a year or so in the grand scheme of things, in order to have a stable situation and be able to stay legally in the country and work without issues? During that year, make sure you’re preparing all the paperwork you’ll need to change status if you’re getting married or PACSed- check out my post on getting PACSed here and on getting the VPF carte de séjour here.

Visa vs. titre de séjour vs. carte de séjour vs. carte de résident- what the heck is the difference?!

This is one of the most common mistakes, and honestly it’s because people think that the names are interchangeable, and they’re not (which I’m completely guilty of exploiting for the SEO in my post about getting a carte de séjour vie privee et familiale). A visa is the sticker put into your passport by the French consulate in your home country. Normally long stay visas are categorized as VLS-TS, which stands for visa long séjour valant d’un titre de séjour. This is basically a request to immigrate to France, means that you’re allowed to enter the country and apply for a residence permit with the OFII (see below). This permit is called a titre de séjour, which essentially is a general term for residence permit, no matter how long it’s valid for. The sticker you get from the OFII and the sticker you get from the home consulate make up your residence permit for the first year. If you decide to renew your long stay residence permit (which is normally valid for 1 year), you make an appointment at your prefecture to apply for a carte de séjour, which is a physical card that represents your residence permit, or your legal status allowing you to stay in France. This card acts as your French ID as a non-French legal resident in the country. If you have a carte de sejour that you renew consecutively for 5 years, you’re eligible to apply for a carte de résident, which is valid for 10 years, unless you choose to apply for citizenship (which is a whole ‘nother ball game). Voilà, the differences between the terms!

What do I have to do for the OFII?

The OFII, or the Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration, is the subject of a lot of confusion/frustration for many people upon their arrival in France, but it doesn’t need to be! Basically upon arrival, you have to send the residency form that you filled out when you applied for your visa in your home country to your local OFII office. Paris Unraveled has a great, very thorough post on this with all the links you need! Make sure you ask to send it with an “avis de réception” so you will get send a notification when it was supposed to have arrived. That way, when you follow up with the OFII if you don’t hear from them, you can prove that you actually sent your papers when you were supposed to. You HAVE to have the appointment with the OFII in order to validate your titre de séjour (residence permit). You probably won’t have issues traveling out of the country, despite what you may have been led to believe (they rarely even look at visas when traveling in the Schengen zone), but if you want to renew in the future this will definitely present a problem. Make sure you follow up with the office if you don’t have an appointment within 6 months of arriving! They are notorious for losing people’s paperwork and making things complicated.

Which prefecture should I go to for my visa renewal?

The prefectures de police who deal with immigration are not the prefectures of each arrondissement; they’re the main prefecture of the city or departement that you live in. For example, I live in Paris, so my prefecture is the main prefecture de police at Cité, but for someone who lives in Neuilly-sur-Seine, their prefecture is the one in Nanterre. My departement is Paris, theirs would be Hauts-de-Seine. Most of the prefectures have online sites to make appointments for renewals, but each one is different, so figure out what departement you live in, use their site and don’t rely on what someone in Paris (since many expats live in Paris) says about their experience at the prefecture- each one is different! That being said, also don’t rely on what a person who works at your prefecture says if you go to ask them a question; there’s a chance that when you come back for your appointment, the person in front of you will say something completely different. Some of the more obscure paper requirements are not set in stone and it’s up to the individual person in front of you if they ask for it. Be prepared for them to ask for anything- this is where it helps to ask around for what kind of crazy documents others have had requested of them. Sometimes the most obscure things can make your life so much easier!

If you’re a student in Paris, there is a separate prefecture for you, on Boulevard Ney in the 18th arrondissement by Porte de Clignancourt. All appointments are online and can be made by clicking here, or here if you’re changing your status (for example, from student to VPF like I did).

Can I stay longer in the country after a tourist visa?

I personally get this question a lot, since many people are on the 90-day tourist visa that doesn’t require any applications, here to visit their French partner and wanting to know how they can stay longer with them. Unfortunately there’s essentially no legal way to extend a tourist visa- if you don’t already have a long-stay visa, you need to go back to your home country and request one from your consulate. If you overstay the 90-day tourist visa, you will become a “sans papiers” (person without papers, basically an illegal immigrant) and that comes with its own set of difficulties. There’s really no way around this, and if you overstay you’re likely to risk fines or temporary bans from not only France but all Schengen travel. Not worth the risk!

How far ahead should I make my visa appointment?

For students, you’re not even allowed to make an appointment more than 3 months away from the expiration of your visa. For those renewing their same visa or CDS on the same status, you can make appointments online at your prefecture’s website. If you’re changing status, depending on what it is, you may have to call in and make an appointment. While you won’t get kicked out of the country if you don’t adhere to the time frame given to schedule your renewal, you may be stuck unable to work on an expired visa (see below) for a few months waiting for your appointment, and we can all agree that’s no fun. I had to wait 4 months for my appointment when I switched from student to VPF status, so try to make your appointment as far in advance as you can. However, as long as your appointment is made before your current visa expires, you’ll be fine!

What happens when my visa expires?

Technically? Nothing. No one’s going to come hunt you down and drag you kicking and screaming onto a flight back to your home country if you have an expired visa. If you have a convocation for a renewal appointment already, you’re unofficially cleared to stay in the country. However, it’s possible that you’d run into issues if you tried to travel outside of France, so best to stay in the country until you’re officially legal again. Keep in mind also that you can’t legally work on an expired visa, so keep in mind the above information about appointment-making if you have a job who wouldn’t be willing to wait around for you to renew.

If you’re just renewing on the same status (staying a student, for example) you can get a récépissé, which is essentially a receipt saying that your residence permit is still valid, which will allow you to be able to continue working in between the expiration and appointment dates. However, if you’re switching status, especially if you’re going from being a student to basically anything else, you may not be able to get one (I recently met someone who got one from the student prefecture when she was doing the same status change as I was, so it could be worth a try). It was a boring two months in between the expiration of my student carte de séjour and my appointment, but at least I didn’t have to leave the country. Silver linings, people.

Should I leave the country to “reset” my tourist visa?

The Schengen tourist visa (meaning passport-only visa-free entry) allows citizens of the countries to which it applies to stay in the Schengen area for 90 out of every 180 days. These don’t have to be consecutive days, but the numbers still stand, which is why anyone who says you can leave and go to London for a night and come back and it will be “reset” is full of baloney.

If you’re on a long stay visa or carte de séjour, however, and it expires, you can stay and travel within the Schengen zone for an additional 90 days on the tourist visa. It’s a bit ambiguous whether or not you’re technically supposed to leave the Schengen zone to get a stamp in your passport and “activate” the 90 days- some people don’t do it and have no problems, some people may get questioned, so in the end it’s your call. Just don’t overstay or you might face bigger consequences!

…………………………………….

I hope that answers some of the questions you may have had about dealing with the madness that is the French visa process! Were you confused by some of these misconceptions about visas for France? What kind of nonsense have you had to deal with from French bureaucracy? Sound off in the comments below, and feel free to answer each others’ questions!

 

  • Reply
    Mia
    at

    Awesome write-up! Definitely saving this 🙂

  • Reply
    justin
    at

    thank you for such a thorough and informative post! does anyone have any suggestions for a good english-speaking immigration lawyer? i need help assessing my position (american with good financial resources) and going forward with the best plan for obtaining legal residency in paris.

    • Reply
      Emily
      at

      Hi Justin! Jean Taquet is a bilingual immigration lawyer- you can find him at http://www.jeantaquet.com/. My friend used him when she came over on her first visa and has always spoken highly of him!

      • Reply
        justin
        at

        thank you emily!

  • Reply
    Prysla
    at

    If I have a six months student visa and I get the ofii sticker, will that be valid for six months too or a year automatically?

    • Reply
      Emily
      at

      Hi Prysla, the OFII sticker doesn’t have an expiration date on it. The length of your visa (your valid stay in France) is determined by the date on the visa.

  • Reply
    Tree
    at

    This is so incredibly helpful. Thank you!!!

  • Reply
    k_sam
    at

    Very informative post! Just one comment – I don’t think it’s technically legal to work remotely while on a long-stay visa. I know a lot of people do it, but when you apply for it, you sign a paper saying you have enough funds to support yourself and that you will not work while in France. Plus it seems a bit unfair to those of us who are actually paying taxes in france to see so many expats come over and benefit from the system without paying in to it. Just my two cents though!

    PS. i apologize for the lack of capitals – I’m not sure why, but your text box won’t let me enter any!

    • Reply
      Emily
      at

      Agreed that it’s a bit unfair, but I do think it’s worth noting that they can’t benefit from a lot of government-run benefits, like health care (they have to sign up for private insurance). No worries on the capitals- it came out fine, the text box format is just like that!

    • Reply
      Biraj
      at

      I have did my first offi in Lyon. And right now I’m in Paris and I am studying french language. So is there any problem for my Visa extension?

      • Reply
        Emily
        at

        Hi Biraj, once you’ve done the OFII validation you don’t need to deal with them again. You can renew your student visa via the student prefecture in Paris (or wherever you live now).

  • Reply
    Heather
    at

    I currently hold a title de seymour that will expire in Feb 2018. I relocated for work, but no longer work for a french company. Does anyone know if I can get an extension to this visa through the prefecture?

  • Reply
    Nick
    at

    Hello, I would like to ask, I am a “passeport talent” visa holder valid for a year. I already go to the OFII (Limoges, france) and gave my documents. However, they have not put a sticker in my passport and when i asked them if they don’t have to put anything in my passport, they just said “It’s okay”. Having gone to the Ofii, can i visit other Schengen area even without the sticker? thanks for your response.

    • Reply
      Emily
      at

      Hi Nick, that sounds strange to me. I would either go back and ask them again or consult with an immigration professional. As I am not an immigration professional I don’t know the answer here. Good luck!

      • Reply
        Mary
        at

        Hello Emily, thank you for this informative write-ups

        Please I would like to clarify me on this if you have any idea about it

        I was given a visa for study that was September 2017, and because of the excitement i could not check my visa properly, when I arrive in France , then our institutions submitted my documents to Offi so as to get appointment, but OFFI replied that my visa is not a student visa, rather it is long séjour temporary, now I was so down because I applied for a student visa in my country Nigeria, I wonder how they could make such mistake to give another visa
        My school has been trying to contact French embassy Abuja but to no avail, and this kind of visa you can not extend it once it expires

        Ok back to 2018, i had my baby who is français, and I’m trying to have my papers through him, i am having difficulties at the prefecture because of my visa , now they asked me to go to their head quarter of my address to know what their decision will be

        I don’t know if you know or heard about this kind of situation

        Thank you and waiting for your reply

    • Reply
      AALOK
      at

      I failed to renew my student visa as I was in china for exchange semester now I am back in my home country…what should I do now..as I Still have to give master dissertation and my course last on February 2020

  • Reply
    Dana
    at

    Hi,
    Your posts are so helpful with the situation I’m in, i just have a question. I’m australian and I’m here on a working holiday visa for 1 year but it says its non-renewable. Am I still able to apply for a carte de sejour vie privee et famille ? or do i have to go back to australia and come back with just a plain visitor visa? My partner is french and we spent the first 2 years together in australia. We’ve been in france for 3 month but just wondering for the future. We’ll probably get PACsd soon 🙂
    Thanks for your time!!
    Sincerely,
    Dana

    • Reply
      Emily
      at

      Hi Dana! This would be a question for your prefecture, so don’t quote me on this (I’m not an immigration professional), but it’s my understanding that just the working holiday status would not be able to be renewed. I don’t think it would hinder you from applying to change to a different status (the VPF in this case). However, though this sounds logical to me, the French prefectures are not known for their logic so I’d ask them or in one of the expat groups on Facebook! Good luck!

    • Reply
      Ben
      at

      What did you end up doing @Dana? I’m in a similar situation. Met my French gf in Aus, eventually came to France on the WHV to experience it, and now would like to stay longer in France (need to learn how to speak more French!). It seems my options are to:
      * apply for a long-term visa for family in France (though she’s not and PACs doesn’t seem enough)
      * apply for a long-term visa of general nature and cross fingers.

      Pretty impossible to get any information out of the French Embassy outside of their website and they never want to talk to anyone on the phone. I wish this situation was documented, it’s probably more common than they realise.

      Thanks in advance!

      • Reply
        Emily
        at

        Hi Ben, a PACS is absolutely enough to change to a vie privée et familiale status if you can prove one year of living together month-by-month- I did it two years ago (read how here: http://www.theglitteringunknown.com/pacs-visa-vie-privee-et-familiale/). If you don’t have that proof yet or don’t feel confident you’ll get it, your best bet may be to change to a long stay visitor or student visa (the latter will allow you to work) while you accumulate enough time for the VPF. Good luck! – Emily

        • Reply
          Ben
          at

          Oh my, that’s amazing! Thanks so much for the response and your blog post. Will definitely be starting this process soon. We knew it would be a good idea to put the bills in both our names!

          Just to be clear, is a PACs a specific requirement? Just wondering if we can get away without doing it? we’ve actually been living together in various places for more like 2.5 years now, though proving it with such detailed documents beyond one year (since we were vanlifing it) might be hard. We don’t have a joint bank account yet.

          It also sounds like I can do it at my closest prefecture? If I can do it in Annecy and not have to go back to Aus like I did last time for the WHV that sounds amazing.

          Thanks again, Ben

          • Emily
            at

            For them to even let you make an appointment to change to the VPF status, you have to be PACSed or married- to get it without either requires being able to prove 5 years of living together. One year of documents is fine (though best to have things in both names if possible) and is the minimum if you’re PACSed. Theoretically yes you can do it at your local prefecture, the issue with WHV are that they’re supposed to be a fixed term thing and they can be harder to change from than other statuses, like if you were a student. But as they say, qui ne tente rien n’a rien !

          • Jolene
            at

            HI @Ben, How did you go with this? I am on a WHV and would like to change to a a vie privée et familiale status. I fulfil all requirements of living together and having enough documentation, however I am unsure whether the WHV allows for this change.

  • Reply
    Lhiez
    at

    Hello

    I’am a filipina legally married to french national. I arrived last August 2017 with my 5 years old son. Right now were staying with my mother inlaw in Lyon while my husband already started his work in London. My visa is about to expire this coming March 02. And my Uk visa is not yet arrive for me to join my husband in UK. I would like to know, what will be the problem exiting france with my expire visa(carte de sejour) ?

    Looking forward for your advice.

    Thank you,

    • Reply
      Emily
      at

      Hello Lhiez, I wish I could help you but unfortunately I am not an immigration professional, so I’m not comfortable giving any advice on your situation. I would suggest contacting someone who is an immigration professional or who works in immigration in the UK. Good luck!

  • Reply
    Kazi
    at

    I over stayed on my tourist visa . it is expired long back . can anyone help

  • Reply
    Celeste bergin
    at

    I have a renewal appointment for my carte du sejour which I will not miss. It is also after the expiration date. problem is I will be going to the states for 3 months. Would you know if they would hold my carte until I return? If i miss the appointment would I have to apply all over again beginning with the embassy? This is my 5th renewal. Requested an appointment 2 months before expiration date. Did not think it would be so late but apparently many services are backed up in processing. Thanks!

  • Reply
    MS sevigne
    at

    contact Hayward Wise Advocate, just outside the Paris city line, He will help you…
    he’s very cool and calmed me down, when I had over stayed

    • Reply
      Christine
      at

      Do not contact Haywood Wise. He completely messed up my visa status when I first came to France and we had several other issues in which he gave us. erroneous information.

  • Reply
    George Christopher
    at

    I currently just concluded my masters degree and I’m in the process of a change of status. Before my visa expired, I had a part time job that I was doing and currently I’m still working for the company and they haven’t said anything and I haven’t been contacted by the prefecture. In such situations, what do I do.

  • Reply
    BRYNNE
    at

    GREAT POST! I HAVE A QUESTION — DO YOU KNOW WHETHER OR NOT YOU CAN LEGALLY WORK WITHOUT YOUR OFII STAMP? IF YOU ARE IN THE PROCESS OF RECIEVING ONE?

  • Reply
    Mary
    at

    What are the consequences for an American citizen married to a French citizen staying in France/the Schengen area for four years without getting the carte de sejour/carte de resident?

    • Reply
      Emily
      at

      I’m not sure, but I imagine the authorities won’t be happy. If that’s you, get it sorted out right away! Start by going to the prefecture and explaining your situation. Good luck!

  • Reply
    Ije
    at

    Hi,
    I have a student visa expiring in August, and I automatically qualifIED for an aps to search for a job immediately after. As I would like to learn some french before job hunting, I wANT to RENEW MY STUDENT VISA BY REGISTERING FOR a french school for 6 months and then apply for my APS. I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW, CAN I STILL APPLY FOR AN APS AFTER THE FRENCH COURSE? (BECAUSE I KNOW THAT THE FRENCH COURSE DOES NOT QUALIFY AS A “HIGHER EDUCATION” OR MASTERS DEGREE WHICH IS NEEDED TO GET AN APS)

    • Reply
      Emily
      at

      Unfortunately I don’t think you qualify for an APS if you decide to do this, since the French class is not a higher education course. I did a full year of French studies myself and did not qualify for an APS after I was done.

  • Reply
    Lisa
    at

    Hie l just read your comments they are so helpful,l recently took my appointment to renew my aupair visa but my appoint it in September and my visa is expiring in end of August,so Will I be able to get a récécipissé?since lm not changi my status.thank you

    • Reply
      Emily
      at

      Hi Lisa, since you’re not changing your status you can absolutely get a récépissé! Just go to your prefecture with your convocation for your renewal appointment, passport, justificatif de domicile, and a photo (the little ID ones you can get done in a Photomaton booth). You may have to wait a bit, but it’s a pretty easy process!

  • Reply
    Nance
    at

    Hello! If I have a long term (year to year visa) am I entitled to French health care? And yes, I’ve been to OFII and was cleared with healthy marks : ) If I am entitled, where do I do to get a health card?

  • Reply
    Sandy Wilson
    at

    I found your information well done. I am interested in your section about “should I leave the country to “reset” my tourist visa”. I have a one year long stay visa in France. I would like to know if I leave and go to a non-schengen country for a few weeks, can I come back into a schengen country just as a tourist for another week or two. It sounds like it, but I’d hate to be wrong.

  • Reply
    Alex m
    at

    I have OFII valid till 8/Aug/2018 and I got Resident permit date after 2 weeks . Will it be Ok to stay in france and even work for the same customer

  • Reply
    Vi
    at

    Hi there,

    Thabks for your post.
    If I have a long stay visa, can I stay for more than 3 months out of any 6 months in another Schengen country? Or do I need to change residency?

    Thanks a lot,
    Vi

  • Reply
    mary
    at

    Hello!

    I have a question. My carte de sejour expired on august 13, 2018… i’m leaving for a 2 month trip to America on Sept 1st and I’m wondering if I will have trouble returning back to france with an exipred carte de sejour? MY file has been approved and my residency card is ready. i live in Montpellier and i tried to go to the prefecture in Montpellier but no one would see me and there is no available appointments until 2 months!! I was misinformed and i did not know that you needed to prepare for a renewal 2-3 months ahead?! Could i receive any guidance please. I’m stressing out. THanks!

    • Reply
      Emily
      at

      Hi Mary, if your card is ready you should have a récépissé from your local prefecture. This paper will act as your interim residence permit (the same as a carte de séjour would) and will allow you to travel in and out of France normally. If you don’t have this, I’d suggest going to the prefecture tomorrow since you leave Saturday and insisting they give you one. Beyond that, I’m not sure what you can do, but if they tell you anything differently, make sure you get it in writing. Good luck!

      • Reply
        Mary
        at

        Alright. thank you very much!

  • Reply
    Rahul
    at

    Hello, currently our carte de sejour has expired and the renewal is in progress.We are going out of France for 5 months but the prefecture says they can not extend the receipisse beyond 3 months.So we would be able to go out of france but when we will return to france our receipisse would expire.

    Can I apply for a schengen visa from my home country and travel to france and then collect the carte sejour and continue our stay here?

  • Reply
    Hirruy Teffera
    at

    Hi, my issue us that I recently graduated on a bachelor’s degree equivalent in France and i started looking for a job about 4 months prior to the expiration date of my student visa. Apparently I can’t change the status without a job contract or a document that proves that I have a job offer. My visa is now expiring in five days and i may have a contract in the next few weeks. Will i have issues when asking to change my status? Will they tell me that i need a new visa? How’s it going to work? Do I need to have an appointment before the expiration date? I’m really confused and i need some help. Thank you in advance.

  • Reply
    SIMONE REA
    at

    hi Emily great article, just ti clarify.. I have 1year visa which expired oct 1st, prior to expiry I applied for renewal. (I am on the family visa) I was told several times that I only needed to renew my visa before march 2019 as my OFII stamp was done on march 2018. Luckily, I double triple checked and renewed two weeks prior to expiry! Question is, I have just got a job and my appointment for renewal is dec. Am I able to work while I wait for renewal or is this not possible?

    • Reply
      Emily
      at

      Hi Simone, congratulations on the new job! It bothers me so much that people spread this kind of misinformation because it’s what leads to people getting into trouble. If you’re already on the family visa and you’re just renewing, not changing status, you can go to the préfecture (I went to the one in the 14th but I’ve also been told you can go to one of the centres de réception des étrangers) with your passport, your convocation for your renewal appointment, a justificatif de domicile, and one photo, and get a récépissé that will legally give you all the same rights as your visa/carte de séjour while you wait for the appointment. This means you’ll be able to work, travel, etc. Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    Hirruy Teffera
    at

    Hi, my name is Hirruy, and my visa is expiring this monday, so basically I have a student visa, and I’m changing the status to a worker’s visa. But i went to the préfecture they told me that i need to address the issue to la DIRECCTE of nantes. And They told me that I needed a 3 month contract minimum to ask for the renewal. I finally found a job but since my visa is expiring i don’t know how I’m supposed to proceed or what I’m supposed to do, thank you for your help in advance

    • Reply
      Emily
      at

      Hi Hirruy, you need to have your new company’s RH help you with this- they need to send your work contract to the DIRECCTE to be approved so you can change your status. I don’t know much about the process of changing status to salarié but maybe someone else will have better advice. Good luck!

      • Reply
        Hirruy Teffera
        at

        Thank you for your response and advice

        • Reply
          Rachel Beaton
          at

          HI Hirruy,

          I have a similar situation and im changing my status from the student au pair visa to a new job that im starting but I don’t know if I am able to start with my company? How did your process work?

          Thank you!

          • Jane Irungu
            at

            Hi am also in the same process now i have a cdi contract i work in a hotel please tell me how your process went did you successed to change your status thanks

  • Reply
    Amanda
    at

    Hi Emily, your blog has helped me so much through this process and I wanted to thank you!
    I have a question about changing my visa and I don’t know if you can answer this but I thought I’d go for it anyways.
    I currently have a ‘Long Stay Visitor Visa (VLS-TS/ type D )’ and I have been in France for 3 months. I want to change my visa to a ‘vie privée et familiale’.

    I am PACSed with my partner, we have lived together for one year, and I have all the documents for this visa.

    My question is, can I apply for the ‘vie privée et familiale’ before my current visa expires?

    love your posts xx

  • Reply
    sydney rubin
    at

    A question that hasn’t been asked. Which office actually makes the decision o a 1-year Titre de sejour visiteur or a 10-year carte de resident? is it the local prefecture? mine is in Avignon. Or would the request made at the avignon prefecture be sent elsewhere (Marseilles, Paris) for review and decision? I ask because I’m being told at the Prefecture (on two visits to ask) that I will not be required to have some documents that are listed on the required documents for the dossiers. I have the name of the person I spoke with, but am nervous that I’ll be told something different when I return next year to make the actual application. I think my chances of having a consistent decision are improved if the same Prefecture answering my question is the one reviewing and deciding whether to grant the carte de resident. Thanks! (Good post, BTW)

  • Reply
    Walter rosengarten
    at

    I have a long stay visa and will arrive in France Dec. 3, 2018. I plan to leave France for the
    usa for 16 days on Dec. 25. Should I send my Ofii form when I first arrive or wait until I return in Jan? Is it ok to leave and return to france without having the letter or meeting?
    Merci!

  • Reply
    Margaret
    at

    Hello. I’m retiring and planning to apply early next year for un visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour (one-year visa), with the hopes of renewing it yearly thereafter.

    My question is: must I stay in the same prefecture to get my sticker from OFII? I had wanted to move around the country, maybe a new region each month, to get to know the country better, before settling in one place. Thanks!

  • Reply
    sola
    at

    Hello, I am currently doing my master’s in Paris, and sent in my ofii paperwork last week. unfortunately, I realized as soon as I sent it that I hadn’t made a copy of the paperwork (I also didn’t send it with an “avis de réception” — really mad at myself now that I’m reading more about this..). I arrived in paris on September 2 (which was stamped on a random page), but then went back to the USA and came back again september 18 (which was stamped right across from my visa). I am hoping to take a trip to London the weekend of November 28-december 2—coming back exactly 3 months after my visa was validated. as I will be technically within the 3 months of free travel at the beginning of my visa, do you think I will be risking anything leaving the Schengen area? I’m hoping I receive my paperwork from ofii at least saying that I started the process before the trip, but allowing them only one month to get back to me might be a long shot. thank you in advance for your advice!

  • Reply
    Michael Pinela
    at

    For a better service and follow-up, the visas office in Washington DC answers requests by email only. To ensure a quick answer to your query, please do not send repeated messages and do not call the French Embassy nor the French consulates in the US.

  • Reply
    veeru
    at

    Hi
    My visa is going to expire on feb 2019 and I am planning to start visa extension process next week. I heard that visa extension process takes 2 months to complete. I am planning to go my home country in month for January for 1 week ( return during my visa validation period). my doubt is can i travel after applying the visa extension (before completion of process)?

    • Reply
      Aman
      at

      Hi veeru, can you update what happened next?

  • Reply
    Amy
    at

    My daughter will be studying in Paris Jan 14-may 4 2019. Her visa is valid for six months–december 25 2018-june 25 2019. Can she come home to the united states after her program ends on may 4 and return with us to tour france from may 26-mid-june? Or will she not be allowed to re-enter france for a certain period of time?

  • Reply
    Jack
    at

    Hi , thank you for this post its very helpful – im currently on a working holiday visa in France and would like to stay for a 2 week holiday within the Schengen zone after my year is up and leave from CDG – I can’t find any information about having to leave France to activate my 90day short stay visa and a trip to the uk to do this is expensive. any help here from anyone who has experience would be greatly appreciated.

  • Reply
    Mimi Black
    at

    Hi, and thanks for your efforts to help those of us who have visa questions! We just received our Type D Long Sejour Temporaire visas -just ONE WEEK after applying! Amazingly quick service! Here’s our point of confusion: Along with the return of our passports with the visa stamps, we received separate photocopied inserts saying: The visa you have received is a “long Sejour Temporaire” visa. This type of visa exempts you from registering with the OFII and from applying for a residence card. This is why your OFII form was not returned to you. You have to leave France by the expiration of your visa.” Instead of the 12-month visa we were expecting, our visas are good for 18 months. WHile the extra time is good news, we don’t understand what status we have while in France. Are we still able to apply for a Carte de Sejour even though we didn’t get the OFII form returned? If you can’t answer this question, can you please refer us to a website/person who might be able to clarify this? BTW, we are retirees who will not be working during our stay, and we own a home in France. Many thanks – Mimi B.

    • Reply
      Alisa Owens
      at

      hi Mimi! I am in the exact same position as you — I received my visa a few weeks ago with the same insert, and am also confused about how I can renew it in France and/or apply for a Carte de Sejour. Have you learned anything further? I would love to join forces on figuring this out 🙂 -Alisa

  • Reply
    Balaji
    at

    Hello,
    i am Bala, i have freceived APS visa. My doubt is am i eliogible to travke my home country (india) and schengen area for trip.

  • Reply
    Salem Nassar
    at

    My recipisse expires ON THE 15/01/2019. i applied for the APS ON THE 15/11/208 WHICH IS EXACTLY TWO MONTHS BEFORE MY RECIPISSE. when applying it said it was going to be a month but as at now, it shows between 1 – 3 months on their website. I have a flight to my country on 31/12/2018. When do I need to return and if I return, how long can I stay for because it will be illegal or would it not? If not, what proof do I need to have to show this while I stay or when I am leaving the country finally. Thank you

  • Reply
    Thribhuvan Reddy Sandadi
    at

    HI, CAN I KNOW WHAT TO DO WHEN MY VISA EXPIRES AND I DONT HAVE A OFII
    DO I HAVE A POSSIBILITY OF GETTING AN OFII AFTER MY VISA EXPIRES.
    I SUBMITTED MY OFII DOCUMENTS VERY LONG BACK
    AND RECEIVED AN APPOINTMENT LETTER AND ON THE DATE OF APPOINTMENT I GOT A CANCELATION MAIL FROM THE OFII OFFICE
    I DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO NOW
    CAN YOU PLEASE HELP?

  • Reply
    Elle Trevits
    at

    Hi,
    I’m an American working and living in Germany but want to move to france. I currently hold a employee sponsored visa valid for one year. if offered a job in france, am i able to apply for my visa IN france since I already have a valid schengen visa?

    Thanks!

  • Reply
    Carolina t
    at

    Hello,
    I would like help with i doubt 8’m having. Currently i have a Long Term visitor visa and it will expire in March, i would like to know if after it I can continue in the Schengen area with my 90days visitor vosa.
    Is it possible or i would have problems when leaving?

    Thank you very much

  • Reply
    Kimberly Cathcart
    at

    Im applying for a longstay visa,i will be living in my boyfriends home ,he has written an invitation letter stating this. My question is how much money do i need to show i can support myself without working? For 1 year

  • Reply
    Ruth Partridge
    at

    I have lived in France for 8 years (8 months there and four in Australia). My Titre de séjour expired on 8 April 2019 and I’m considering staying in Australia so won’t be able to renew it. I have tried and tried to get my permanent carte de séjour but let’s not get into the French bureaucracy! I have had to renew it every year and it’s painful! I’m wondering if there is a specified time I have to stay out of France until I can return for just the 3 months under the Schengen treaty?
    I would appreciate any wisdom on this subject as I’m due to leave Australia on 6 March and want to cancel my flight. I have to be back in France on 7 March – one month before the actual expiry date

  • Reply
    Joshua
    at

    Hey,
    So i just read your post, very helpful information. Wish i would have read it before i came to Paris.

    I want to share with you my situation and maybe you can give me some advice on what to do?

    On Oct. 7th 2018, during my wedding ceremony, someone had broken into my car and stolen all my belongings from apple laptop, to cloths and my passport with the attached visa…..

    I was able to get a new passport from the U.s. embassy in Paris so thats good.
    However, For the last 3 months i’ve been trying to figure out, how do i receive another one of those visa’s stamps into my new passport?? So i can continue to process my carte de sejour

    The prefecture and the OFii havent been helpful and my hometown french embassy says i need to return to Florida to receive another….is their another solution that does not require me to quit my job and fly back to florida only for a stamp?

    Thanks,
    Josh

  • Reply
    Rencie
    at

    Thank you so much for your very informative blog about your visa experience. I’d like to add regarding getting an extension to stay as a holder of tourist visa as a spouse of French national. 2 weeks after my wedding in june 2018, my husband and I went to prefecture to inquire about carte de sejour. The lady at the desk told us to wait for 6 months so it means I have to stay that long and over stay my visa. I wasn’t really happy to do that but the prefecture said it’s inhumane to ask me to live now I’m married to a French national since I automatically have the right to stay. So we waited for 6 months, then got an appointment to lodge all our papers. The prefecture issued me a recepisse of my application. 2 months after we received a letter to go to OFFI and asked us to prepare €360 for visa regularisation. After 15mins the guy stamped my passport and just told us to expect a sms in a month for my carte de sejour.

  • Reply
    Rachel Beaton
    at

    HI!

    I am currently an Au pair in France and I am ending my contract in a month and I had a company offer me a CDD. I am working on getting an ATP but I am not sure if this is the right step and what is needed to do a full transfer. It seems like the company is not quite sure either. Am I legally allowed to change status after my au pair contract to work as a Salarié?

    Thank you,

    Rachel

  • Reply
    Jenifer
    at

    Hi, I have read your blog and it’s very interesting. I would like yo know if maybe you have answers gir my specific situation or you know to who I can talk about it?
    I came last year (Nov 18) as an aupair but my Visa on my passport says student Visa permit to work,I got my title sejour on Feb and just now that my situation changed, notice that this paper says something else : stagiere. I left the host family after researching that I could work with my Visa in something else with out problem if I applied the rules.
    France changed the Visa for aupair this year after I got mine, so the regulations are different and that’s why my votre sejour says something different that doesn’t match my Visa.
    Legally I can work with my Visa but the other paper not.
    Should i be scared about this, i want to change my Visa (found an sponsor) to working Visa but i do t know what to do.

    I appreciate your help

  • Reply
    Jeff
    at

    Hello, thank you for this helpful post. I am in France on a one-year visitor’s visa, and I need to stay a couple of weeks after it expires (but definitely no more). In your post you mention an additional 90 days after a long term visa expires – – this is the first I’ve heard about this on the many websites I’ve been scouring to find information (almost everything is about extending the 90 day tourist stay, and there are very few mentions of this particular situation). this would be a big relief if it’s the case – – on the other hand, i wanted to travel to the uk and back to Paris (Eurostar) after the expiration, and it sounds like this is ambiguous. do you have any updated information/clarifications on that? if the extra 90 days applies, i wouldn’t be doing this in order to renew, but just because i need to go there. but of course I don’t want trouble going through the passport check in either direction… (I’m also wondering how thorough and computerized that process is with the eurostar, if they’ll know my exact status with a simple swipe, etc.). Any insights would be appreciated – – Thanks again!

    • Reply
      aNON
      at

      WITH A SCHeNGHeN VISA, YOU CAN ONLY STAY 90 DAYS OUT OF eVerY 180 DAYS. So, you can’t leave after 90 days and come back to reactivate your visa. You would have to wait 90 days in the uk, THeN COMe BACK. iN OTHer WOrDS, 3 MONTHS OUT OF eVerY 6 MONTHS. aND WHATeVer YOU DO, DON’T TrAVeL TO Switzerland Or gerMANY. tHeY LITerArILY COUNT THe DAYS, WHILe IN frANCe AND Italy, IT’S MOre reLAXeD; THeY WILL OVerLOOK A DAY Or TWO. oVerSTAYING IS A SerIOUS LeGAL INFrACTION, DON’T TAKe IT LIGHTLY. Make sure you plan everything in advance.

  • Reply
    Norma Appollos
    at

    hello, this post is great but I am very worried.

    I am from Canada and I had no idea I had to do anything once I arrived in France. No documents were given to me when I received my visa, so I was ill-informed but also aloof.

    I’ve been here for four months and I have not gone to the prefecture, what happens next? Can I still go and will I be okay?

  • Reply
    Stefan
    at

    Hi Emily, thanks so much on this amazing follow-up with information
    I was one of the people who’d go like, okay this looks similar so I’d put it in the same basket :’)

    I am on my student visa, coming from Serbia btw,
    due to expire on 27th August so, I was trying to set up an appointment with my prefecture – Haute-Garonne and couldn’t because they need a number of my titre du sejour, online
    Now, i went to OFII as soon as I had all the papers and instead of giving me a sticker, they printed a paper which served instead of it and sent me off – since then I was traveling to Lisbon without any problems but I don’t see any number that could be the one of titre du sejour..
    I tried calling them and couldn’t get through -.-” so I’ll try Monday.

    I have some questions based on the prolongation –
    you said if we prolong on the same status we can get the recepisse – so this recepisse serves as something temporary while we find some job and could apply for change of the status, right?
    Would it work with entering some language courses, and which ones?

    Also, I am waiting on the job from speaking-agency – baby-sitting and teaching, so, for now, from the moment they find me a family they can give me an ‘attestation’ for my contract but contract itself, only when I start working – from beginning of September, which is after my visa expires..
    Do you think this with working for family would work for the prolongation and changing of status?

    I hope I can get a meeting at embassy and I felt relieved when I read that even though my visa expires I could stay and wait for it, as all the possible appointments are in middle of September o.0″

    I am also a dancer, been here for my dance formation so, having this in mind – which status would you apply me for when changing from etudiant?

    Keep on doing the amazing work!

    With hope,

    Stefan

  • Reply
    Meenakshi Sundaram
    at

    hi Emily,

    Great post! and informative comments! I’m a student from Paris and i just got my recepisse as my student visa expires in september 2019. my recepisse is valid till march 2020 however i have my graduation ceremony in april 2020. during this time,
    can i travel in and out(to my home country) of schengen area ?
    can i apply for a tourist visa to france from my home country if i decide to come to paris for my my graduation ceremony in april 2020?

    could someone provide more information on the recepisse “demande de carte de sejour”?

    thanks,
    meena

  • Reply
    Dipthi Mishra
    at

    Hiiii!my student visa expires in September and I have an appointment for renewal in December. Is this normal?Like can I still stay in France

  • Reply
    Stephen
    at

    I have same question as Jeff below:

    Jeff says
    June 20, 2019 at 10:49

    Hello, thank you for this helpful post. I am in France on a one-year visitor’s visa, and I need to stay a couple of weeks after it expires (but definitely no more). In your post you mention an additional 90 days after a long term visa expires – – this is the first I’ve heard about this on the many websites I’ve been scouring to find information (almost everything is about extending the 90 day tourist stay, and there are very few mentions of this particular situation). this would be a big relief if it’s the case – – it sounds like this is ambiguous. do you have any updated information/clarifications on that? if the extra 90 days applies?

    • Reply
      Carlos
      at

      Me too.
      Emily, thanks for the great post. Would you be so kind as to indicate some source of information to confirm this 90 day extra period after the expiration of a VLS?
      Thank you.

  • Reply
    Laura
    at

    Hello, thank you very much for such an informative article.
    I have a question… what happens if you miss or cannot make it on the date that they tell you to collect the renewed Titre de Sejour?
    Thank you

  • Reply
    Richard
    at

    hello,
    My APs is goning to expired in december. Can i get 3months extensions or something to clear all my country leaving process?

  • Reply
    Lucy edmont
    at

    Awesome write up! I was wondering if you might have some advice for me – I’m a British citizen but am only self-employed in Australia (though this will be my first paid contract). I want to undertake a 2.5 month contract in France as a self-employed dancer. I won’t have much money saved but everything is paid for in France by the contracter. Is there any kind of visa I might be entitled to?

  • Reply
    Chanique
    at

    Good day. I CURRENTLY HAVE A LONG STAY VISA THAT EXPIRED. I WANTED TO CHANGE IT TO CONJOINT DE FRANÇAIS BUT THE EARLIEST APPOINTMENT WAS IN 3 MONTHS. THE PREFECTURE TOLD ME IT IS FINE TO STAY IN FRANCE WITH AN RENDEZ VOUS. IS THIS CORRECT?

  • Reply
    fuddi
    at

    under what case 6 months long stay visa becomes void?

  • Reply
    Momodu Oshiomogie
    at

    Bonjour,

    Please how many month can I stay out of French with Carte de Sejour?

    If some one has a carte de sejour and stay out of France for 10month. Can he be allowed to enter France with the carte de sejour or you need to apply for tourist visa?
    Regards,

  • Reply
    C K
    at

    Thanks for this write-up, very helpful! I have a question for you – my long stay visa (non renewable) is expiring Feb 5. I’m traveling and re-entering Paris on Feb 2. May I enter as a tourist (I’m Canadian and don’t require a Schengen)? Alternatively, is one allowed to stay the 90 days past the expiration date iF the visa is non-renewable? Any help and guidance is much appreciated – and if you can point me to any site that has this information, that would be even better! thanks soooo much.

  • Reply
    Margaret
    at

    Please I completed my studies in 2018 and my visa expired in june 2018 but I went for a recipisée for 6 months. I have a CDI now and I want to change my status. I have all the necessary documents but my boss at work is supposed to fill a form for me to submit to the prefecture but she says she would have to pay hence she cannot help me. I have been without recipisée for a month now and I am very worried. What should I do

  • Reply
    Marc
    at

    Great article. My question is this:

    If you have a French Titre de Sejour, how long can you be outside the country before it is invalidated? i.e. go home to your home country and visit family…3 months…6 months? Merci!

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