The path to French citizenship begins, or “Visitor no more”

I saw her place the green and white paper on top of my file.  It was the paper used to print a recipisse (the temporary document one uses for identification while waiting to get a permanent identity card).  Externally I remained stoic.  Internally my jaw dropped and I wanted to shout out.  That enormous dossier that I had handed over 15 minutes earlier had worked.  Not only had I successfully jumped the track from the hamster-wheel of visitorhood to the track to an EU and French citizenship, but this had been the shortest prefecture visit since I moved to France in 2013.  From start to finish it had been thirty minutes.  I had felt supremely confident in my dossier – but this was France, after all.  There could always be something objectionable.

Still dumbstruck, I silently handed over my photos.  As the big printer hummed, she clipped out one of them, handed the rest back to me, then dutifully affixed it to my recipisse.  She then gave it all the stamps and signatures it needed after I had verified all the information and signed it myself.

Today is eight days after I successfully changed to a Profession Liberale visa.  As long as I earn a certain income over the next five years and pay the requisite taxes, I’ll be eligible to apply for French citizenship (note: that does not mean I’ll get it).  I’m officially allowed to work in France, now.  I had to go to URSSAF yesterday to do more paperwork, and I need to come back in 90 days to give the prefecture that paperwork, but that’s literally paper pushing, rather than the complex compilation of a dossier.

Could I have taken this path immediately in 2013 instead of taking the visitor route?  Yes.  Indeed, if there are any of you out there interested in taking this path, I can help consult you through this process as someone who has successfully completed it and has a winning template (and if you live in Paris I’ll throw in a lunch, too).  For more information, email me.

And yet, the answer for me is also No.  I could not have taken this route myself, knowing as little as I did about France in 2013.  I didn’t even know what I didn’t know, and my plans and ideas about my time in France were so inchoate when I landed here.  Yes, eight days ago I took a bulletproof dossier to the Prefecture…but I knew it was bulletproof because of my last two visits there and what I had learned about the French and their expectations in the last three years.

It’s also been marvelous to hear from people I’ve met because of this blog – not just those who needed help regarding the visitor visa but those who have started to meet with me to strategize about what I’ve just successfully done: a transition to the citizenship route.  A few of their testimonials are here.

Thanks for continuing this journey with me.  Last Thursday was the end of the beginning.

The image is the flag of the Bourbon Restoration.  It’s as good a time as any to admit that I’m an unabashed royalist.

22 thoughts on “The path to French citizenship begins, or “Visitor no more”

  1. Please do a post on joining social security in France. I have heard that it is possible to buy into the system if you pay taxes in France and that it is much cheaper than private insurance. Thanks.

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  8. Congrats!
    I do have a questions, you have to wait 5 years with the Profession Liberale visa before even trying to apply to the citizenship?

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  11. Hi Stehen!

    Congrats on getting through this process..

    I am considering going this route…but would like to discuss this more with someone who has gone through it. I have an arts background, but am not interested in the talent visa. I would like to remain free to do various things like broadening the scope of my new podcast and product dev, etc.

    I read you have templates. Might I email you direct to get a sense which you think might be best for an artist working to develop a location indie business? I wasn’t finding the email button here.

    Merci beaucoup!

  12. Hi Stephen, your posts are so helpful, I don’t think I would have managed to get my long-stay visitor visa renewed without them. In relation to the professionale libre visa, I see that you say you have have to earn over a certain income over the next five years. Is this income from French companies? Also, are you able to tell me how much you are required to earn to meet the visa requirements? I can’t find this information anywhere. Many thanks, Lisa

    • Lisa

      The income is from wherever you want. You will have a new French company which will be a repository for your revenues. When you’re obtaining the visa, you’re simply making a projection to them of what you think you will earn, which will need to be a living wage for yourself (at least 24k in euros per year). Obviously you may have a slow start and may not hit that number in the first year, but that’s a question for your renewal, not for obtaining the visa. You’re still thinking in terms of the long-term stay visa, in which you need to prove that you can live without working. This visa precisely is about working, so it’s more about proving how you will earn. No guarantees.

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