The Do's and Don'ts When Getting a French Long-Stay Visa
Are you looking forward to living in France? Check out the long-stay visa requirements and be prepared for a bureaucratic exercise. The list is long, but if you persevere and provide the documents below, the process will go well, and you will not have any problems. This list is for a 6-12 month visa stay.
The French Consulate outsourced the visa application process to VFS Global. The transition started last year, and it is being rolled out city by city wherever a consulate exists. The change in Atlanta was happening about the time of our application, so it was a little confusing. There was no advanced announcement on the French consulate website nor on the visa website, which is not user-friendly.
Your process will start by getting on the French visa website (https://france-visas.gouv.fr/), and you will create an account. Once it determined that you need a visa, you will fill out an online application. Once done, you will get a "general" checklist of documents required. You will then get on the VFS Global website and make an appointment when all these documents submitted and verified. Once verified, all your documents go to the Visa Processing Center in Washington, DC.
Appointment confirmation letter (from the VFS Global website)
2 Copies of Visa Application which you should have completed online
Copy of your passport (should be valid three months past your stay in France)
2 Extra passport photos (taken in the last six months)
Copy of your driver's license as proof of residency
Pay stubs, pension payments, or social security payment for the previous three months.
Bank statements for the last three months
Investment accounts, if applicable
Letter from your sponsor in France stating that they will be financially responsible for you
Long-stay visa application (VLS-TS). This form applies to stays for 6-12 months. There are instructions to present yourself at a regional office within three months of your arrival to re-validate your visa.
**This is no longer required. We double-checked with the local prefecture and were told we were all set!
A criminal background check from your local jurisdiction
Health insurance coverage up to $36,000
A letter stating that you will not work in any capacity while in France
Letter of financial guarantee for minors or dependents
Address of residence in destination city (hotels, apartments, etc.)
Airline ticket (I did not submit this but if you have it, provide it)
$115 fee for the visa plus $25 UPS fee for delivery of the passport
$29.00 service fee for VFS Global
View of Lyon from the Fourviere
What They Don't Tell You
The first thing to remember is that application is in French.
Have copies of documents as prescribed above. VFS Global will not make copies for you. If there is a FedEx or UPS office in the building, they may give you some time to run and make copies.
Make appointments individually, not as a group or family, even if the website says you can. To ensure that your applications are processed together, find a date when consecutive appointment slots are available.
If applying as a group or family, make sure the documents reference each other with last name and passport numbers.
**For example, all letters of financial support should be signed by all in the party, etc.
The list of documents you will see on the VFS Global website or the French Consulate websites is not complete. I would read blogs to find out the latest.
Get a phone number so you can call to track your application. The tracking website did not work for me. I was able to get a contact number from the Atlanta French Consulate when someone, luckily, picked up the phone!
The final step in the process is biometric facial recognition and fingerprinting.
How Long is a Long Wait?
Officially, they say 3 to 4 weeks. We got ours in six weeks. The wait was nerve-wracking, but we got the visa two weeks from our expected departure date. The visa clock starts ticking ten days from the receipt of the permit.
I am a recent retiree, and have been taking advantage of my newfound freedom to travel the world. So far, travelled to over 55 countries on six continents, and I've set might sights on 30 more countries while I am still able.
This blog is my journal of the wonderful cities, less traveled, that should be on everyone's proverbial bucket list.