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  1. Pingback: My worst week in Paris | The American in Paris

  2. Pingback: Lifestyle Design: My own case study | The American in Paris

  3. Pingback: Lifestyle Design: My own case study | The American in Paris

  4. Thanks for sharing Stephen. It is well composed and really hits home. I am very familiar with Tim’s book and his approach to “lifestyle design.” Looks like you have adapted well to the “Nuevo Rich” culture he speaks of.

    I commend you on following your passions, and I as well am pushing for the wonderful lifestyle design myself. Yet, I have to remind myself that designs can take a lot of building time to make into a reality. You have to stick to the dream, heck sometimes I feel like I am still finding the dream for my life. It is a journey that we battle each day and can also enjoy in the moments along the way! Tim didn’t get there by 4 hour weeks, psshhh, he likely put in more like 80. I think there is a unique balance to both contributing toward a healthy lifestyle for you and yours, and freeing yourself to chase after “less stable” passions.

    Overall, I know I have passions, goals, and hope to be uber passionate about something that also generates an income that I can be saving off of / sell for lots of money! Thanks again for sharing!

    May our soccer talks always be blessed with joy and interesting conversations!!!


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  6. Pingback: Long Term Stay Visa, Part 2 | The American in Paris

  7. Pingback: Long Term Stay Visa, Part 2 | The American in Paris

  8. Pingback: Long Term Stay Visa, Part 2 | The American in Paris

  9. Pingback: My 35th. | The American in Paris

  10. Pingback: Why I Watermark My Photos | Cyan Skies

  11. Pingback: Restoration Radio Update 5/26/2014 | The Restoration Radio Network

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  13. very interesting post – and that is a pretty big claim to back up – to be the best city! and you do a great job supporting your claim…
    and love this “Beauty isn’t uniformity or conformity…”

    and also the old and the new – parks, etc.

    whew – and it sure does have an identity – fo sho.

    and your love for Paris is inspiring.

  14. Absolutely love this. My husband and I are trying to move there next year after we finish our year in Thailand. Any tips or suggestions on how to move? What do you do for work? If you have any connections or suggestions I would love to hear them 🙂 Love your site!

  15. Thank you for this! I have an appointment on Tuesday for an au pair visa and I was so paranoid that I would get denied (actually, I’m sure of it since I don’t think my French family got my contract approved and I don’t think my French class correspondence will qualify, etc). It’s such a relief that they let you send your missing documents! Did you only have to pay the application fee once? That was another concern of mine. I don’t want to take multiple trips to Chicago or pay hundreds of dollars because THEIR website isn’t clear and I can’t get a response via email OR phone for WEEKS (I know, I shouldn’t blame them when I’m applying!).

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  17. In fact social networks have revolutionized our lives by incorporating
    all the basic elements of a person’s social life in one place.
    If you like something from other people’s board you
    can “re-pin” it to your own. It’s not always easy, but if the material is for something truly important, it’s the wisest step
    to take.

  18. Hey Stephen! I love your blog! It’s super helpful for someone going through the same process. 🙂 One question: how long did it take to get your passport back after your appointment at the Consulate?

  19. Pingback: The Summer that changed my life, or “Now I get to stay” | The American in Paris

  20. Pingback: The Summer that changed my life, or “Now I get to stay” | The American in Paris

  21. Pingback: The Summer that changed my life, or “Now I get to stay” | The American in Paris

  22. What? You’re from Kansas City?! Moi aussi. So glad everything went well. The two times I’ve had to deal with the Chicago Consulate have been interesting, but in the end just fine.

  23. Such an inspirational post for me personally . . .I also pray for the “window” to open. I am at a crossroad in life and am considering pursuing my dream of teaching overseas. Best wishes, and please post more if you get a chance!

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  25. Pingback: Mailbag #1: Long-term stay visa questions and answers | The American in Paris

  26. Pingback: How to Renew Your French Long-Term Stay Visa | The American in Paris

  27. Pingback: How to Renew Your French Long-Term Stay Visa | The American in Paris

  28. Pingback: How to Renew Your French Long-Term Stay Visa | The American in Paris

    • Thanks so much for this! Your experience really helped me. I would not have known to bring a copy of renters insurance to the meeting. You taking the time to reply to my questions in email was sincerely appreciated. Two issues I had were not bringing copies of my French bank account statements but had my bank email them directly. And my teeth were showing slightly in my photos so had to retake them. But I just left with my Visa extension and so relieved. Thank you again!

  29. Someone commenting at The Thinking Housewife on the Charlie Hebdo murders commented:

    I like Generation Identitaire’s take on “I am Charlie.” They proudly associate themselves with Charlie… Martel.

    How about, “Martel, not Hebdo?”

    I thought you might appreciate the sentiment

    • There is a certain sense, I understand, in “newsjacking” something trendy and Christianizing it. Some time ago a number of people put the “equal” sign as their avatars for some days in response to an American court decision on so-called homosexual marriage. A number of people then put up the mathematically “unequal” sign in “protest.” This turns the conversation, dramatically, but I think it’s a distraction. People aren’t ready for the sort of 90, or 180 degree turn that “Je suis Charlie Martel” is. I daresay a lot of people, not just the French, have no idea who he is, and now you’ve turned the discussion from dealing with “free speech” and Islam in Europe to a military discussion about the Muslim invasions. I don’t quite think it works, and I’m worried that Christians, eager to show their bona fides in a cultural dispute about things that matter, try to strike their own trends, but rather than be original they are simply a poor knock-off of what swirls in the zeitgeist. They can, and should, do better.

  30. Pingback: I forgot my passport | The American in Paris

  31. It happens to the best of us travelers! Ya Live, travel, and learn…(and forget somewhere in the mix). Now you’ve got it over with for the rest of trip 😉

    Enjoy your time here!! And check out my Food Guides/ other wild travel stories from all over Europe 😉

  32. Pingback: No, I'm Not Charlie Martel, Either - Front Porch Republic

  33. That wouldn’t fly (pun intended) here in NY. We citizens are treated like criminals; the illegals are treated with open arms and gov’t assistance.

  34. Pingback: Learn French in France? Not so fast…. | The American in Paris

  35. I agree that the french spoken in France is not easy. I Watch one French TV series from France (Plus Belle la Vie) and it amazes me by its difference with French Canadian, as I am from Montreal. I learned English by reading English books with a dictionary, and by watching English TV (I would not recommend watching too much TV anymore). I did the same with Spanish when I visited Spain and it worked. I learned also my prayers in Latin and it was easy. I know some words of other languages. Of course, Jesus must have known and could have spoken all the languages on earth.

  36. Pingback: The pain of loss | The American in Paris

  37. You are a great man, but that does not change the fact that he is a poor little man.
    You stole to you something you could afford to lose, but this is not always the case. I feel at the same time sad, because there are people like him, and happy because, after all, we can limit the impact they have on the lifes of the honest people.

  38. Funny to read an article about my native language. I did not perceive the fact that we are speaking “bad french” every day – disappearance of “ne” for example. I will speak better now 😉
    I ll do my best in the future

  39. What makes the study of the language even more interesting are the different definitions for a work, based on dialects…Ex. la tourtière…(meat pie) In Ontario but in Québec it’s pâté à la viande…and tourtière is a different platter…! regional expressions…that even among French speaking people are misunderstood!

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  41. Stephen,
    that’s really cool blog. i am trying to do the same, only we are a little different.
    i will be applying from Chinese office for long stay visitor visa of France. the office in China is very very very strict, i tried to research any chinese has done it,but no luck.
    the reason i am going to france is to learn French, since France would not issue student visa for Language only, then i have to look for alternative way which is long stay visitor visa. and my school doesn’t care if i dont have a student visa.
    i really wish my application can go through. and i only have less than a month to apply for it. school test is waiting for me in Paris on the 7th September…
    ps, i want to ask if you know anyone has similar case like me? or do you think i can apply for that visa with my reason?!

  42. Stephan,

    Great information. Thank you so much.

    I have one question regarding the medical insurance. Are there any specific requirements as for deductible, co-pay, and annual limits?



        • FYI, I was told by the Consulate in Chicago (when I was there submitting my visa application and documentation) that my policy needed to include medical evacuation coverage, with no deductible. This was in December 2014. Hope that helps!

          • Thank you for the recent update, Lucy. $0 deductible and include medical evacuation coverage. Anything said about any co-pay?

          • Nothing about co-pays. I also looked at my records and the minimum coverage needs to be $50,000 – I doubt there are any policies that small, but the gentleman at the Consulate wrote it down so I thought I would mention it. 🙂

      • It’s not a non-issue for them based on my experience.

        My policy has a small yearly deductible, $750, and when I went to the consulate in Houston they noticed that, mentioned it, then went back over my bank statements to make sure I had the money to cover it in addition to what they’d be expecting for living expenses.

        Not saying a $0 deductible policy is a better decision overall, since you need to weight that vs premium payments, but just be prepared to show you have enough money to cover the deductible as well as living expenses.

        • Thanks for your feedback – that’s helpful for anyone who goes to Houston for approval, for sure.

          In my Chicago and Paris experience, they really didn’t look that closely at the policy.

      • Thanks for your thoughts, Stephen. Great blog, BTW. Maybe see you around in Paris sometime. Just moved to the 10th and should be here for at least a year.

  43. hi! I found this in my feverous search regarding French Visas. The French consulate says you can’t renew the long term visa in france…. I am assuming by your blog this is not truly the case. So two questions:
    If I get the long term visitor visa in the states, can I renew it for another year in france?

    If I get the long term visitor visa, can I switch to a type of self-employed/artist (i make films) visa once I am there? Or do I have to return for that?

    I want to apply for the Carte Competences et Talents – Artist’s Visa, the issue is I don’t think I know enough about france to get it yet. I think after a year I can. I would like to know if I can come on a long stay visitor visa and apply for this card. I have seen vague evidence on the internet that this is possible, but nothing solid yet…

    • Given that I renewed my long-term stay visa in France last year, yes, it’s possible. Not sure what specific case/length the French Consulate was referring to. So, to answer your first question: “Yes, unless I’m somehow special.” As far as “switching” to the “auto entrepreneur” visa once you get here…not so fast. This isn’t college and changing your major, and France is a couple thousand years old so a basic immigration trick like that isn’t going to work. I’m changing my status to a working one later this year, but that took a lot of planning and tactics. Short answer: “No, you can’t.”

      The artist visa is an interesting one – I can connect you with a friend who might be able to help. Email me at stephen AT aroadtaken.com and I’ll connect you guys.

  44. Stephan,

    I have been reading more and more of your articles. Great stuff. Thank you for sharing. And I apologize in advance if my next question is answered somewhere on your website. But when applying for a long term visitor visa, for the purposes of the visa application, do you not need to sign a one-year lease contract?

    From another one of your articles (I think that you discussed Airbnb), it appears that one does not. (I would also like to have the flexibility of moving within the year.)

    But, is a 6-month contract acceptable to the French authorities even though it is a one-year visa?



    P.S. Can you recommend the cheapest medical insurance carrier/policy, that you are aware of, that is acceptable to the French authorities. You mentioned in another article that you switched from Cigna to a local French provider in your second year.

    Thanks again for your advice.

    • Coleman – it’s a flat market and Cigna costs the same as my provider, except that my provider requires the entire premium in advance, so I think Cigna is a better option for you – especially if your French is not good enough to simply call up my provider (who doesn’t speak English :-).

      As for the original application – I don’t remember having to present a one year lease – I certainly didn’t have one at the time of the application. The French aren’t interested in the details of where – they are more interested in the fact that you have a place – so a QDL or an attestation de hebergement is going to be fine. When I renewed I don’t think I showed them a lease either. That being said, I would encourage you not to move around too much – I’ve maintained the same permanent address in Paris from when I came here through an arrangement with the gardienne of the building. Moving just presents hiccups in paperwork you don’t want.

  45. Thanks for the article. Very helpful. Regarding the questionnaire (filled out in french), do you have to have the document notarized by a french “notaire” or a US one? If US, do you have some contact details in Chicago area? Thanks so much.

    • Sandrine – basic rule – if you are doing something for the US side, English is fine – for example, an American notary and your health insurance policy in English. If you are applying on the French side, they want French-translated health insurance and a French notaire. Your friendly neighborhood Chicago notary should be fine. 🙂

  46. Hi Stephen,

    I am currently in my search for apartments in Paris and have one question with regard to the apartment that I find and renewing the visa one year later.

    My preference would be to get an apartment for a shorter term (say three or six months) and then get a one year lease perhaps in another location, once I am more familiar with the neighborhoods.

    My question: When I go to renew the long stay visa, will I need proof of where I lived during the previous 12 months, similar to having to show 12 months worth of banking statements? Or will I just show my current lease?



    • Coleman

      Firstly I would recommend using ParisExpat.com to help you find an apartment.

      Secondly, the renewal is about the future, so a current lease is fine. They don’t assume life works neatly and that you necessarily decided to stay in the same place all 12 months and hence need to show proof of all the places you lived. Furthermore, they don’t require proof that you have signed another 12 month lease. A simple QDL will do. And proof of insurance on that property.


      • Thanks, Stephan. I just found a perfect place for the location that I need on ParisExpat.com. Hopefully I will get a response to my inquiry tomorrow.

  47. Hello! I’m so glad I found your blog post, I am trying to renew my long stay visitor visa in a few weeks and wanted to know,

    1) Where did you get your birth certificate translated
    2) Do I really need renters insurance?
    I live with my boyfriend (french) in his house, so I have all the proof that he owns the place and that I’m allowed to live there, (worked to get the visa coming here), so just wondering if I’ll still need this, seeing as it’s what held up your process.
    3) Do they process the passport/visa right away? Or will I have to come back? Because poor planning I’m flying out to the UK 2 days after my appointment, and will need my passport back.

    Thank you for your help!!

  48. Hi Stephen,

    Your article was enjoyable to read, and once again, informative. I am now in Paris with my long stay visitor visa, and waiting for the medical exam with OFII. I was not aware that I needed to stay 270 days a year in France. Not a problem. Good to know. Thanks for mentioning it in your article.

    You also mentioned that next year you will be transitioning your visitor visa to one that leads to citizenship. Great job. Congratulations and good luck.

    Can you please share what types of visas can lead to citizenship, or permanent residence? Or lead me towards the best website(s) for the info.

    It is my understanding that after having a visitor visa for 5 years, (renewed each year), one can apply for a 10-year resident visa. Is this accurate? Also, at that point, can a person work on a “10-year resident visa”? I enjoy Paris and don’t have a problem with not working for 5 years, but I’m not sure that I want to be permanently retired either.

    Thanks for any insight,


  49. Coleman – I’m going to be sharing some of those details in a future post. If someone wants a clear path on “how-to” you should contact me privately and I can discuss more with you that way.

  50. Hello Stephen please I’m in a fix, My friend invite me to Paris for a visit, the problem now is, I’m unemployed and don’t have a business here in Nigeria, He will support my stay in Paris but the Visa requirements says otherwise.
    (meaning i will have a job before travelling)
    How can i apply for Visa and won’t be denied?

    Thanks look forward to hearing from you..

      • My story goes this way..
        A friend of mine invites me to Paris for a visit, he is an American citizen.
        He will sponsor my staying in Paris.
        I’m not financial ready..
        Can he send his documentaries to me.
        C i apply for Visa and won’t be denied??

        • Cynthia – when you say he will “sponsor your visit in Paris” I hope you mean he is going to give you a large amount of cash to put in a bank account under your name, as that is the only way that you are going to get a visitor visa. You have to prove that YOU have the money – not that someone else – who is not related to you or married to you – has it. So – short answer – no. You can certainly come on a tourist visa and see how it goes from there. That should cost you close to nothing, depending on what the policy is in Nigeria.

  51. Interesting post. So good to read how happy u r in Paris, that beautiful, inspiring city. I have lived abroad a lot longer, but some things stay the same. And there is so much to be gained from such an experience! Stay safe these difficult days.

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  53. I’ve also had a good experience using xoom.com. It was recently purchased by PayPal, so I don’t know if the fees will go up (currently $4.99/transfer) or if anything will change, but for now I’m a fan.

  54. Hello thanks so much for the info.

    Do we really have to have our birth certificate??
    my appointment is in a few days and i thought i just needed to reshow the documents shown when i got my initial long term visa which did not include a birth certificate…. i am so screwed if that is… since it is deep within a box in a storage unit back in the states..

    I’m thinking to go in without the document even if i have to go back instead of canceling/ losing my appointment.

    Can’t believe this birth certificate thing!

    • Heather – you have a 1/100 chance of getting away with this. Worst case, you have everything else in order and when you come back that’s the only document you need to show. There’s always a chance you might not need it. But it’s very, very slim. I would encourage you to get someone to go in there, get it, and overnight it to you. It’s worth the hassle to avoid the hassle.

      PS As a general rule and as the blog demonstrates, don’t EVER make assumptions of the French. Really bad idea 🙁

  55. hello, sorry to keep asking, and i’m kicking myself constantly as i write this…

    I know i will not be able to get my birth certificate into my submission files. So in this case would you recommend that i still go to the prefecture knowing that they will ask me to come back with the document?

    Or should i cancel and try to book another appointment instead. I fear i may not get an appointment in time though because my visa expires at the end of january 2016…

    When they asked you to come back, did you have to get another appointment?

    thank you so much for your time…

  56. Let me rephrase the above crazy posting.

    I am going to the embassy tomorrow to get my certificate going as you mentioned. My question is more about: Do you need to make another appointment if you had a missing document the first time? How long did that take for you?

    Sorry for the messy communication, it is indication of my frazzled condition….

    many many, thank yous

    ps. can you please let me know the translators you used for this process?

    • hello Stephen, i tried clicking on your name link but it takes me to a hosting service. I also looked around but could not find your email address or link anywhere?

      can you see my email address? i was required to put it in to post to this thread.

  57. A quick question. You had to produce all these documents to extend your visa for one year. What if I only want to extend mine for 3 months? Will I still need to produce all the documentation you list?

    • Rob – you need to provide documentation to extend. So, I suppose instead of showing a one year lease, you can show them a 3-month. But there’s no “shorter list” for shorter stays. That’s not how the French work, as I try to indicate on this blog 🙂

  58. Hello Stephen,
    First of all thank you for your blog, it is a pleasure to read.

    I am also on a long term visitor visa. Actually I have just received my visa so I am not in France yet. There are a few questions I would like to ask, some of them are quite similar to Coleman’s:
    – The 270 day minimum stay in France limit. I have just been googling for the last 30 mins and have not found any information. Please share any links maybe? This would really affect my decision of whether or not I should renew my titre when my visa runs out.
    – The financial requirement to renew the titre. I read in another post of yours that 1.5 – 2k is sufficient. However, I will be staying with family so rent is free. Does that reduce the amount I need? Please share some experience.

    Also I am looking forward to your post on how to change from visitor visa to the path to obtain citizenship.

    Thanks again.

    • The 270 day limit was mentioned to me at the prefecture. It’s not really something enforced (because how would they enforce it in a borderless Europe?) – but keep in mind that since I write a public blog I have to share information I’m given. So I only know from the prefecture, so I have no links to share with you.

      Yes, I think if you have an attestation that you will not be paying any rent at all that your money requirement will be reduced, but not eliminated.

      Finally, I won’t be writing a public blog on how to make the change from visitor to citizen path – the work I did in order to learn how to do it was some of the hardest (and most expensive, in both time and money) work I’ve done so far. For people who are seriously interested I offer some consulting time in blocks of 90 minutes. Some have already met with me for such consulting and it’s been a good experience for both parties.

  59. Stephen this is such great info- you write clearly, thank you for writing this. 2 questions for you-
    I’m considering applying for a 6 month long stay, I’m a US citizen.
    1 Do you have to enter France from the country you apply for the visa from? (for example fly to France from US vs entering from another European country) Do you have to exit the Schengen zone from France?
    2 Can you leave France and travel to other Schengen countries freely during the Visa? (I can’t see why not as there are not border checks in Schengen)

    Hope this finds you well
    thanks Stephen

    • Mark – to your first question – no – they don’t care how you get there, just that you get there on or after the date of your visa. Ideally on. I actually had to get my customs guy to stamp on the sheet instructed by OFII, as the French border control agents are so sloppy and rushed. His sloppiness would have caused more trouble for me so I had to watch him carefully before he put a stamp on the wrong place.

      As to the second, you’ve answered your own question. They have no idea where you are at any given time, and it’s borderless travel pretty much anywhere in the EU – you are definitely going to be passport-checked in Romania, Hungary, Croatia, and Poland, in my personal experience, especially with a US passport, but that doesn’t have any bearing on your visa.

      • One more for you Stephen (and thank you again for sharing this knowledge)
        some context-
        Arriving in Lisbon May 3rd and will make our way to France mid June. Truthfully I want to use the 6 month french long stay to wonder around the schengen including France. My understanding is that the french visa kicks off when I enter France say June 15th, then I can theoretically wander around the Schengen for 6 months after that. (Unless it starts when I land in Portugal?)
        Do I have to then exit the Schengen from France to comply with the visa?
        I’m still working out how I’m going to prove accommodation, I’ll let you and your readers know when I figure that one out.

      • Gosh I would love to hear the answer for Mark’s next question of Dec 29th. Can you use the “normal” 3 month visa to tour Spain or Italy beforehand, and then start the 6 month Visa by entering France? And after that “6 month visitor visa D” is used up, can you leave the Schengen Zone for a few days, then reenter and start a fresh new 3 month Visa? Normally, you have to leave Schengen for 3 months, but can you hop into a 3 month visa after only a few days at the end of a “6 month Visitor Visa D”?

        • Bitsy

          I hear differing things regarding this “leave Schengen for one day” business – I’ve been told of a friend of a friend who does it, and I was also told of two friends of readers of this blogged who received massive fines for doing so.

          Here’s the tip: if you want to be here in France for more than 3 months, get a visitor visa! I have laid out the steps here and it’s neither expensive nor difficult! Then you don’t have to worry about all this (absurd) Jason Bourne stuff.

          • Hello, I had a question that I asked on this site and also asked the french Consulate in Los Angeles. Below, is the question and also the answers I got from the french Consulate:
            I have a question that I hope you can answer. My husband and I are planning to travel to France this Fall, and we are nearing retirement age and want to travel in France for a longer time period than previous trips.
            We will be applying for a “6 month longstay visa” in Los Angeles at the consulate. We plan to travel to France Sept. 1st. Assuming that we will get the “6 month longstay visitor visa D” that starts on Sept. 1st, we are wondering, if we end up being able to, could we leave the USA sooner and enter Italy for a few weeks ahead of the “6 month longstay visitor visa D”? In other words, could we tour Italy on a “regular 3 month Schengen visa”, then leave the Schengen Zone for a week or so (go to Croatia, or UK) and then enter France and start the “6 month longstay visitor visa D”?
            Also: When the “6 month longstay visitor visa D” is over, can we document leaving the Schengen Zone, go to Ireland, and then reenter the Schengen zone again a week later as the beginning of another “regular 3 month Schengen visa”?
            I do know that a regular visa allows us to be in the Schengen Zone for 90 days out of 180 days. However, with the “6 month longstay visitor visa D”, as it ends, can we start into the regular visa without waiting, and having to leave the Schengen Zone for a full 3 months?
            Thank you in advance for your answer.
            The day your long stay visa for France expires you have to leave the Schengen area.

            Visa section
            Consulate General of France in Los Angeles

            Thank you for your reply. When the 6 months are finished, we have to leave the Schengen Zone. Understood. But then in a few days, can we reenter Schengen Zone on a 90 day visa?
            Yes, you can enter the Schengen area again (after a few days) without a visa for maximum 90 days every 6 months.


            Visa section
            Consulate General of France in Los Angeles
            10390 Santa Monica Boulevard, Suite 115
            Los Angeles, CA 90025

            And can we visit Schengen zone on a 90 day visa beforehand, leave, and then come back in to start the “6 months longstay Visa D”?
            No, not prior to your long stay in France. After your long stay in France you can go back to the Schengen area as described.


            Visa section
            Consulate General of France in Los Angeles

  60. Stephen, thanks for your answer. Do you think that I will need to have my bank statements translated into French? That would be very expensive, since each one is many pages long. Also, you mention that there’s no shorter list for shorter stays, but when I present myself to the office is there an occasion for me to indicate that I am only wanting to extend for 3 months, not 1 year? I ask this because I am not able to make the case for 1 year, since I absolutely must return to my home country after those 3 additional months? Thanks so much for your help.

  61. Rob – you simply tell them how long you want to renew for. There is a place for that on the form. Just because you were there for a year doesn’t mean you want to renew for a year. Also – where do you bank? Do you not bank with a French bank? If you’ve been here for a year I suspect that they will want to see your French bank account, but if you’ve been living out of your American bank account, you should be able to show them your American bank account statements, untranslated. But you’re asking me about a scenario I’ve never pondered, as I don’t know how someone would live here for a year as a regular part of society without a French bank account, but I feel they are just as likely to ask you for a French translation as they are not. More likely not because you’re asking for so short – and my follow-up is, why don’t you just leave the country (go to London, so you’re out of Schengen, so you get stamped on the way back in) at the end of your visa and come back the next day on a 90-day tourist visa? Free. No hassle. No nonsense. I would never go through this drama for just 3 months. But that’s just me.

    • Dear Stephen, I promise I will only badger you with this one additional question. I thought about leaving and coming back, as you recommend, but I was under the impression that if I leave and the end of my long stay visa I would need to stay gone for a period of time before returning under a tourist visa. Am I incorrect? I hope I am, because it would save a major hassle.

      • you are actually in major luck, IF you have a 1-year long stay visa (such as the initial France visitor’s visa), are from 1 of the visa-free countries that normally allows 90 days upon entry, and if all you want is another 90 days.

        Save this link, be prepared to show it at airport immigration* if you need to make a case:

        See Article 5b, where it says: “Periods of stay authorised under a residence permit or a long-stay visa shall not be taken into account in the calculation of the duration of stay on the territory of the Member States.”

        I’m no lawyer either, but there’s plenty of discussion out there that says you could still take advantage of the normal 90 days visa-free allowance starting the day after your long-term stay expired– you don’t even need to do the proposed “visa run” to London.

        *By the way, re showing that link and making a case: the risk is far greater when you are *leaving* Schengen then when arriving. This used to be counter-intuitive to me but is very true. Immigration is very strict all over Schengen these days re over-staying, so don’t mess with the rules.

      • Just to follow up, given Ken’s helpful remarks and link below, I received confirmation from the French Consulate in San Francisco that I am indeed able to leave France on the date of the expiration of my long-stay visa, travel to a non-Schengen country, and then return to France under a normal 90-day tourist visa. But they did say that I must make certain that I get a stamp on the way out and on the way in. So Ken, while your interpretation of the law is compelling, it’s probably not a risk I would want to take.

  62. Well – as I said – who is going to be checking that? Do you think they are going to flip through your passport, find your OFII stamp, then do the math and realize your visa just ended and ask why the hell you are in France? Or are they going to see you as a tourist, and flip to the closest page available and stamp and wave you through? My bets are on door #2. This is also where I remind you that I offer advice, but I’m no lawyer or immigration expert. Just someone who’s been through the paces with these people.

  63. I was reading through this thinking, “This guy totally should hear about the Story of Stuff.” Then I got to the end of your post, and there it is!

    I just moved from Missouri to Germany at the end of September. I packed my few boxes in my aunt’s basement and left my books for her and my sisters. I checked two suitcases and had one carry-on. When I got here I was able to get used cookware and what not for free from friends. I’m actually enjoying living with less, and often find myself thinking that I even brought too much!

  64. I am reading Ferriss now too. But strange, I live in Italy and would like to come to the USA! I already uncluttered under the suggestions of Marie Kondo, so ok for the stuff. My problem now is the work, I am a clerk and fear to quit.

    • I would use the Toyota “five whys” method, starting with “What do you fear?” then ask why to whatever your answer is to that, etc. until you get to your core answer. “Fear” is not concrete enough. Be specific.

  65. Hi, I will reiterate Monica’s (unanswered) question: What’s the deal with the apt insurance? I have stayed at long stay vacation rentals and similar, so no utility bills nor insurance, but an informal “lease” from landlord worked to get my titre de sejour. To do (my first) renewal, will apt insurance be a new required thing (like needing a birth certificate even tho it wasnt needed to get original visa)? Or did you only need it because it was somehow entailed in the lease you produced in your paperwork?

    • Bruce
      As I stated, yes, you need to bring insurance for your property. It’s not a “new required thing” because you’re assuming that the renewal process is like the process for the original visa – except it’s different on a number of levels. My “job” on this blog is to get people as prepared as I know possible. So sending you to one of these appointments without insurance (which is both inexpensive and easy to obtain) would be remiss of me. And careless of you. You have to be prepared to produce even the things that are not listed on the sheet they give you at the prefecture. This is how the French work and I try to constantly make that clear on the blog – Bring everything, and even more than everything 🙂

      • hmmm…I’m not sure what renters insurance would even mean for someone like me who has been staying at essentially hotels (i.e. residence hotels) for up to 2 or 3 months at each location…I was hoping you would say that the only reason the French Govt would even care about it was that it was a required part of your particular lease, and hence was considered part of proving that you had a valid one.

  66. Hello Steven,

    My girlfriend and I are planning to stay for 12 months beginning July of 2016. Our purpose of our stat will be to learn the language and explore the culture. That being said I’ve noticed that the visa process is primarily based on individual income. I own my own business and am able to direct deposit the required amount of funds into whichever one of our personal accounts in order to show sufficient income. That being said I would prefer to avoid having to direct deposit our annual living budget (80K-100K) twice into individual accounts if at all possible. If I were to direct deposit a portion of the funds into my own account, the other portion into her account and we transferred both sets of funds into a joint account that is in both of our names would we both be able to use that joint account for verification of income?

    On a side note, do you have any tips on finding a place to stay? We would love a beautiful view in the heart of the city under 2500 euros if possible.

    • John – last question first – give the guys at parisexpat.com a look. They’ve got some good properties and work well with English speakers.

      As for the income issue – I think it might make more sense if you had a joint account – then you can both claim access to it?

  67. Ah – Bruce – I misunderstood – I didn’t realize you meant you had been staying at short-term rentals during this past year – I thought you meant in the past, just as a point of reference about insurance in general.

    So, in that case – I don’t think your problem will be with renter’s insurance. If the French are okay with you moving around every few months, they certainly won’t care about renter’s insurance. I’m not sure why you chose to do that, as it doesn’t show a lot of stability, but I don’t think you’re required to stay in any one place. It just makes your visa application simple if you do. I’ve never heard of anyone applying for a one-year visa after moving around during that one year, so keep us posted on what happens so others can learn. 🙂

    • Hi there,
      I wrote you an email with some queries but had an additional one that’s relevant to the ones here so thought I’ll pop it in here. I’m currently subletting and have no written lease. My intention is to submit an attestation d’hébergement + facture électricité (under the name of my landlord) with his ID. My first visa has a different address and so I intend to state that I’ve only just moved. Question: I have a bank transfer record of the rent I’ve paid in Nov. Should I include that in my dossier or make it out that I’m not paying rent at all (which was the case in my first visa application) ? That way I’m off the hook for any official documents trying to prove where I live.

      I obviously don’t have renter’s insurance and can’t get one.

      • Candice
        I’m not entirely sure what you’re asking. You are providing “official documents” proving where you live in the form of the ADH and the EDF you are going to provide. If you have no written lease you clearly can’t just fabricate one now.

        Remember that although this is a renewal, there is no institutional memory. When they sit down with you, it’s almost a new application – they are going to look through all the documents again. Yes, it’s a renewal, but don’t feel like “because this is how I did it last time this is how I have to do it this time.”

        I also don’t know why you would have to prove you pay rent when you already have an ADH?

  68. I’ve found your blog to be quite interesting and helpful! I hope to move to Paris as you have done later this year and I’m soaking up as much information as I can about living there!

    I get what you’re saying about frozen food, but what about leftovers? How do you (and presumably, Parisians) feel about leftovers?

    Also, what 3 dishes should I learn to cook before moving there?

    • Brooke the nice thing about French cooking is…you don’t need leftovers! You cook and eat *enough.* I never have leftovers here because it’s not a problem. Whereas in the US you have places like the Cheesecake Factory where you might as well order two boxes to go as soon as you order your salad, since it’s enough to feed an entire village, usually.

      Here’s more info for you: http://m.france24.com/en/20160104-france-doggy-bag-law-restaurants-food-waste

      Three dishes you should learn before moving here? Well, you are going to impress/scare the French if you can cook their food before you even get here, but let’s go simple, okay?

      Coq au Vin
      Blanquette de Veau
      and a standard steak/frites

      I’m very old-school in my French culinary tastes so if you’re looking for something a bit more avant-garde, I’m not your guy 🙂

      • Thanks for the recommendations!! I’m gonna try!!

        Actually by leftovers I mean like taking what you made last night to work the next day for lunch or having the same thing for dinner the next night. I made a dish last night to last me most of the week because of my busy schedule.

  69. Brooke – I tend to cook for just me without too much left over, because I like to cook. If I have some leftovers its usually just enough for a snack which I might have at tea as a lunch replacement.

  70. Very helpful info! Somewhat off-topic, have you had to convert your American drivers license to a French one or have any experience with that? We are coming up on our 1 year and planning for the visa renewal, but also understand we are meant to have converted our licenses within the year as well. Were you/ have you ever been asked for your French license?

    • Naomi – I’m not a driver here – I drove over a million kilometers when I lived in America and bask in the beauty of public transportation supplemented by taxis and uber. If you don’t convert your license within one year, you won’t be able to, and will be dumped into their arcane system of driver’s education and training. So, if you have any intention of staying here long term AND driving, you better get your license.

      For me, the hassle and trade off of not keeping my American license, when you can use it for so many things there, including domestic travel, I made the conscious decision NOT to get a French license. I may write on this topic at some point.

  71. Hi Stephen,

    My question is that whether I should prove that I pay rent to fulfil the criteria of having a Quittance de Loyer, as that may strengthen my case. The ADH is written by my landlord and the EDF is under his name (as stated in my original reply). Hence, I can get one without a written lease. The purpose of the EDF is to prove that he is connected to the property. Yes, I get your point on forgetting the first time, but the reason why I’m drawing on the previous experience is to explore the options on how I should present my case.

    As far as I know, most sublets do NOT have a formal written lease in Paris that’s legally actionable. And that causes a problem.

    I hope this clarifies?

    • Candice – I think you’re making a huge distinction between ADH and QDL as proofs of residence – except there’s not such a big distinction at the prefecture. And it’s not the part of your application that receives the most attention. All they want to know is that you are staying in France legally in some kind of regular residence. If you were able to obtain your visa with an ADH (which was perfectly acceptable to OFII when I presented one for my 90-day visit after I first arrived) I don’t see why it wouldn’t do in a renewal situation.

      Furthermore, you don’t have to “prove you pay rent” in order to get a QDL. Your landlord issues you one or doesn’t – you don’t have to provide a QDL AND proof you pay rent to the prefecture. The QDL is its own standalone document that says you are in good standing at that place, though a QDL is going to lead to the follow up question of “where’s your renter’s insurance”?

      In my case, I have a lease and renter’s insurance, and have since about the 3rd month I lived in Paris, but even then, when it came to this point in the interview, my inspector glanced at the lease to verify that the address was the same, then put it onto her “done” pile, then looked at my insurance to see that it matched the address, ran her fingers along the policy limits, then flipped it onto the done pile. Probably about 20 seconds altogether.

      Do I think that they may look a bit more closely at an ADH + EDF + someone else’s ID? Sure. But I don’t think it’s a dealbreaker. As long as you can explain your situation, and have documentation to back yourself up, you should be fine. Does that help?

      • Hi Stephen,
        Yes thanks heaps. I’m just overthinking this in true French fashion of pre-empting the possible obstacles they could throw to complicate everything. I keep being settled at what I have and then I’ll go into panic mode and think of other documents that I can add to my dossier! Especially in this case, a QDL was mentioned (as an OR though). Honestly, I am baffled by their acceptance of an attestation in such a manner while being notoriously a stickler for admin. Back in Australia, we call it a statutory declaration and it needs to be witnessed by a Justice of Peace or other notarised persons. Thank goodness no such thing here else it’ll really do my head in! Cheers.

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  73. 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.

  74. Hi Stephen! I’m so glad I found your blog! I have an appointment in May (travel date is end of August). The consulate requires a contract for at least 3 months. In your experience, does an airbnb booked for 3 months suffice? Alternatively, how can I get a 3 month contract (preferably one that can be broken) ahead of time?

    • Melissa

      Where you live is it common to find 3 month contracts that can be broken? That’s what we call “month to month” here, and people rarely do that, given what a premium it is to have an apartment inside the periphique.

      May I suggest you simply get an attestation de hebergement, possibly from your airbnb host, rather than try to find a person willing to give you a 3 month breakable lease? 😉

      • Thanks for your reply! You make a good point. I tried looking up Attestation de hebergement but am still a bit confused… Is there an official form I can find, or is it just a letter signed by the host? I’m assuming it should be notarized as well, yes?

  75. Melissa – not an official form – it just needs to identify the person, identify you, say you’re living there for X amount of time, and to be doubly safe, should come with a photocopy of the person’s ID and EDF. If you can only get a photocopy of the ID that’s fine. Saves a trip to the notary which is expensive and unnecessary.

  76. Is there an online/easy way to get renters insurance (with a French document, because I assume it has to be in French)? Or who is the guy you mentioned? I don’t have a french bank account (no french income) so I’d rather not set foot in one.

    btw – I didn’t have 3 months left on my long stay visitor visa (only 2, which is when the French consulate in Miami told me ON A PRINTED DOCUMENT to go for renewal) so I went to the Paris prefecture anyway. They would not let me in. They said make an appointment (via the online site), and as long as you made the appointment before the visa expires it is ok. We’ll see how it plays out.

    • Brian – did the document tell you to go to the Prefecture for an appointment and neglect to say “make an appointment”? This might be a lost in translation moment – the staff at the consulate might have thought in their French brains, “Surely he won’t go to the Prefecture without an appointment…imagine what would happen if we allowed that”? 🙂

      You’ll be fine as long as you got a date.

      • The document which I received last April from the French consulate in Miami says (in English) something like “to renew your long stay visa go to the prefecture within the last two months before it expires” and “They will give you a list of things you need and you can make an appointment”. Bad information, obviously. But that is what it says.

      • Hello!!

        It Is June and my visa ends on October 16. My passport expired June 2017. Two questions, can I still renew my long stay visa even though it’s past the 6 month mark? And will I need to renew my passport before the appointment since if I get the extension it would be valid beyond June 2017?


        • Val you can’t do a “renewal” on an expired visa. You can apply for a new one. As for your passport, that’s not really relevant – as long as it’s valid at the time you present it (and isn’t expiring within a few months) you’ll be fine – but in general I say don’t wait until your passport is nearly expired to renew.

  77. I just found your blog and it’s wonderful!
    This post in particular is really speaking to me right now. I’m going through just the same, trying to fit 30 years of accumulation into a few large overseas shipping boxes and some suitcases. My husband has already made this sort of move when he first came to the usa from france so he seems to be having no issue with tossing or donating his this….me on the other hand, I feel like it’s a constant fight to move things out of the “keep” pile. My only saving grace is the $ signs that pop up when I start thinking about how much it will cost me to ship more than what we already have!

  78. Hi Stephen, Thanks for writing this. Could you let me know where you had your birth certificate translated? Also, you wrote that we’d need 12 months of bank statements. On the prefecture’s list of requirements, the way I understood it is they want to see a bank statement showing you have money equivalent to 12 months worth of salary (for someone earning minimum wage) at the time of application. So just your recent statement, not one that goes 12 months back? Thanks again.

    • June – if you send me an email I can get you my translator’s information.

      If you are speaking about your original application, yes, you are correct, and to an extent, for the renewal as well. The reason for the 12 months of bank statements is that you are a) demonstrating that you are living here in France and b) are not making income here. I have had readers tell me that they have gone in with bank statements certifying a large amount of capital and that has been satisfactory.

      • HI Stephen, just wondering if have you heard any more about whether these bank statements need to be translated into French? I have an australian bank account and am worried that the cost of translating 12 months would be huge! thanks 🙂

      • Lisa – I think that 12 months of original (in English) Australian bank statements, along with a letter, in French, from your bank, which testifies to your moving daily/monthly balance, should do the trick.

  79. The aduciel website provide above does not function correctly. If anyone has an easy way to get renters insurance in Paris without having a French bank account, please advise. The amount of time I have spent researching and trying to obtain is now at the ridiculous level.

  80. Dude, you were so immensely helpful! Thank you so much for sharing your experience!

    I thought I would go to Chicago and just start filling out forms and leave with my Visa.

    Our situation is completely different as we will be retiring and relocating to France, which means I’m not sure how the proof of income thing works.

    • Heidi

      If you really thought that I think you might examine whether you should really be retiring and relocating to France 🙂

      In all seriousness, though, have you ever spent more than 2 weeks here? If you haven’t, I would just come on a 90 tourist visa (no paperwork) and make sure that you really want to do this. I’m always wary of people declaring they want to retire someplace when they haven’t “pregamed” that place yet. Spend 3 months here. You’ll know for sure by then.

      The proof of income for you is the same as for any visitor – you just have to prove sufficient income. Just show them a retirement account that will provide you with sufficient income. Or your social security payments. Etc.

      • Thank you Stephen, yes, we’ve been there. My whole family is in love with France. However, we do intend to rent for a year, at least, visiting the areas we are interested in possibly settling down.

  81. Hi Stephen, My original insurance provider is unable to provide a policy in French. Can you please give me the information for your agent?

  82. Thanks for all the info. I have 2 questions. Do you need the same things for the 3rd year, etc? In other words, Do you need a new translated birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc. each year? Second, since my husband and I will have two separate appointments – do we EACH need everything original for the long stay visa the first time and each subsequent time? Thank you!

    • Karen

      Once you have an “official” translated document that’s good for life. The translation doesn’t expire.

      I don’t quite understand your second question.

  83. For anyone needing renter’s insurance (which is everybody needing to renew a long stay visitor visa): The US embassy website has a list of resources on various topics, including insurance.

    After I emailed them and filled out a form, they mailed me the certificate/document I need. I haven’t had my visa appointment yet, but I do have a document that (I think) says I have renter’s insurance.

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  87. Thank you for all of your valuable information. I’m trying to make my way back to France long term and this is so helpful. Thank you!

  88. Hi Stephen, this blog post is SO helpful!!! i was just wondering, i cant get my health insurance policy in French (and as you say to get it translated would be expensive). can you please tell me who your insurance provider was?

  89. Hi I’m also an US expat I love the concept of your blog . I’ve been dying to talk to someone like you about one point. Driver’s licence. Would it be ok for you to tel us more about it?

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  94. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and have to say I enjoy this glimpse into “the system.” My husband and I hope to move to France one day. Our situation will be different than yours (retirement or, fingers crossed, the arts visa), but it’s nice to see someone’s look into the reality of dealing with all the bureaucracy.

  95. Hey, can you please help me figure out where I can get a translation of my birth certificate? I have my original and it is in Russian, though I am now an American Citizen, I carry a US passport, but am here studying french. Thank you!

  96. This is so true…that Carte Noire “le baiser” ad is the absolute worst! There was a pretty horrific Audi ad playing for a while as well. Glad I’m not the only one who laughs at these 😀

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  98. Hi Stephen, Just a question on the total amount needed in your bank account. if the minumum wage is around 1,500 to 2000 euros per month so you would require a total of about minimum 20,000 euros in your account to present to them is that correct?

    • James – yes – or an account you have access to, like a 401K or something you are a signatory to. Alternatively, something that shows you will be receiving the necessary monthly income, either a letter from an employer or a bank.

  99. We just got back from a two-week house/pet sitting trip to Palm Springs, CA, then Canada next month. But in October…Italy and France!

  100. Hi Stephen, just got a quick question. Do you have to surrender your old carte de sejour? Would you be able to still travel with just the recipisse? thanks

    • Naomi – yes, traveling with the recipisse is sufficient – but I’ve recently been traveling in Schengen, and as usual, have not even had to show my passport, much less my French ID, but I applaud your thoroughness in bringing it along (I left it at home 🙂 )

  101. I just returned from the prefecture with my recipisse (receipt?) for my carte de sejour. They gave me another appointment 3 months from now to pick up the actual card. Here are my tips for US citizens renewing their long stay visa:

    Prefecture Meeting: I have a fairly large amount of money in my US-based bank/brokerage account. I showed them the most recent one month statement and that was sufficient. (I had a year’s worth of bank activity printed and ready as a back-up). However, the woman said “You need a bank account in France next year”, implying for the next visa renewal I will need to have a French bank account. My bank statement was in English.

    Important NOTE: I was surprised by this: I WAS REQUIRED TO SHOW THEM MY OFII MEDICAL VISIT DOCUMENT. This is a document you receive when you complete your OFII medical visit after your first arrive in Paris. Thankfully I had everything with me in a folder, so I had this document. It has a couple of stamps on it… and unfortunately the woman at the prefecture took the original – I hope I do not need it again for the next renewal. (Of course, the fact that I have the OFII stamp in my passport indicates I passed the medical visit, but they wanted the document today anyway.)

    So the documents they took were:

    – Renter’s Insurance
    – Health Insurance
    – Bank statement
    – OFII medical visit
    – EDF power electricity document (A QDL document from your landlord if you do not have a power bill)
    – Birth certificate (translated into French, cost me 50 euros, can’t recommend my translator, too bad for her)

    So thanks to Stephen for the information. Hopefully this summary is beneficial to someone.

  102. Hi Stephen,

    thank you for this information. One question, how long do you need to renew the long term stay visa before it ends? Because I currently have a 6 month visa and I was hoping to get another 3 months after that under a tourist visa (by simply leaving and re-entering the country after the long stay visa ends) before renewing my long stay visa.

    Thank you!

    • Cheejun

      I’m a bit confused by your question. If you mean, can you stay as a tourist for 90 days after your visa ends by exiting and then returning, the answer is yes. If the question is, can you renew after being under a tourist visa, then the answer is no, as you can’t “renew” something that is expired. You would need to apply for a new visa.

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  105. Hi Stephen,

    Just a quick question, do they absolutely require a French/American bank account or any bank account will do? Because my family lives in Singapore and I was hoping to get my dad to print his bank statement and vouch that he will support me financially should I extend my visa (is that possible too?).

    Thank you for everything!

    • Since I’m writing the American in Paris blog, I will refer to “American” bank accounts but surely a Singaporean would not be using an American account, right? As far as renewal goes, the reason I say a French account is the way to go is because then that part is easier. If you have a letter in French from your father, along with a letter from your bank, in French, noting that you have access to these accounts, and then all the statements of the accounts in English, then I think you could possibly be okay. But giving him a bunch of English-spoken bank accounts with an explanation in English? That’s not going to work.

  106. Hey Stephen!

    Just came across your blog- the info are so helpful!
    I do have a question though- I have a long stay student visa that allow me to start on the 21st August, but i have to go to France earlier on the 13th to take care of the house renting process , do you think I can make it with a reasonable explanation to the customs Officials?

    Thanks so much for your reply in advance!

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  110. Your blog is fabulous and informative! It has helped us so much to be prepared. We are having difficulty finding health insurance. We have an apartment in Grasse and also in New York. We are retired and wish to obtain a long stay visa so we are not subject to the 90 day/6 month rule. Our daughter and her family currently live in Geneva; hence, we would like to spend extended time in EU. Insurance I am finding limits the time one can spend when returning to USA. If we exceed the limit, the policy is canceled. Any suggestion would be appreciated. Thanks.

  111. Hi Stephen, Im trying to get a head start on the process and i was wondering if they need a long copy of the birth certificate or will an abstract work? Does it need to be less than 6months old? Also, is an apostille required? (Im also going through the process for a pacs and they require a long version less than 6months old with apostille so im hoping to only have to order them once!)

    Cheers and thanks for the helpful post!

  112. Stephen,
    Well, I cannot thank you enough for this article. How nerve wrecking it has been, to get some of these things understood, and you have helped tremendously.

    The only concern I have left is the Attestation d’accueil, or accommodation certificate. All I have is a friend whom I am staying with, who did write a letter stating she is housing me, and I have copies of her passport and rental agreement, but I see that she may need to get something more formal authorized at the city hall.

    I leave to Chicago to turn my papers in, in four days. I’m so worried…I do t have anything official for my accommodation. It would be sad, because anyone can docture a hotel email receipt.

    Any advise?

    • Marcus

      I wouldn’t worry. You’ve done the best you can in your circumstances. Remember that I didn’t have all my paperwork ready the first day myself. They will tell you what you need to get and you’ll get it! 😉

      • You’re so great in responding, again, I thank you. You sharing experiences on this blog help as well…what a great move!

        Al the best!
        Aaron Marcus

      • Stephen,
        Wow…took less than three business days to get my visa! Whohooo! You certainly helped, and I thank you for that. There were no issues with my documents, and the accommodation was sufficient with my friend’s copy of rental agreement, utility bill, a copy of her passport, and a signed letter from her stating I would be staying with her. I provided a lot of supporting documents for my income, which I think they are more concerned about. The process too about one hour, including waiting there on a Friday afternoon. Thanks again for your blog, and guidance to all of us!

  113. My current situation.

    1. Working as an IT consultant for LOREAL USA
    2. Will be travelling to France on a business trip and need to stay for more than 90 days.
    3. Purpose of Travel: Meetings with LOREAL IT colleagues in France for training, visiting L’Oréal factories , collaborating team members on IT project for LOREAL .
    4. My first date of travel is 9/2/2016, and will be travelling multiple times in next 1 year.
    5. I will not be paid in France
    6. US Citizen , MS is Engineering , 15 Years IT Experience

    I believe a long stay VISA is required because the total duration of stay in France is more than 90 days.

    Pls advise what type of VISA is required and the procedure /steps to get the VISA.

    • before explaining what the law states I would like to describe a couple of scenarios which should illustrates how to handle the situation:
      1 – you will have several “short stays” over a period of 1 year.
      A solution could be for you to have no immigration documentation, each stay is about 2 months, maybe less maybe more but never more than 3 months. You make you sure that you do not stay more than 6 months per calendar year.
      You stay strictly within the Schengen regulation, since you leave before 3 month stay and less than 6 months for the fiscal residency.

      2 – you are not sure that you can limit each stay within 90 days
      A solution would be to ask on your own merit a long stay i.e., immigration visa, called “visiteur” which allows you to stay in France but not work in France. Since you maintain all your tied with the American company and you are working in France.
      This is the lowest level of immigration status and the requirements are:
      Showing that you have accessible about $22,000 in an account including a retirement one,
      Showing that you have secured an address in France which can be a hotel,
      Showing that you have secured a comprehensive health insurance company. Loreal France should be able to help you with that.

      3 – LOREAL France wants you to be able be integrated in the French company even if you are not working.
      Then they need to start an expat (cadre détaché) procedure which has no chances to be done by Sept. 2nd.

      Therefore considering the fact that you only have a week before leaving the safest thing could be the 1st one and see what kind of immigration status do you need if any. If Loreal does not want to help then 2 – visiteur is your only alternative.

  114. My husband and I are moving to Paris from Manhattan/New York permanently. Since we are retired we have problems finding health insurance despite the fact that we are in outstanding health. Can you recommend a health insurance company who insures retirees? After 3 months of permanent stay we will sign with the PUMa. Still, for the long-stay visa we need proof of health insurance for one year. We will cancel it as soon as we have the Carte Vitale.
    I would have emailed you directly, but couldn’t find your email address.
    Thank you so much for your help

  115. Hi Stephen, I am so happy to come across your blog while searching for information on long stay visa application. I know all along it’s not going to be easy. But thanks to your details description at least now I am not entirely clueless. I also LOVE your closing paragraph about living the life on your own terms and I wish I will get to do the same! THANK YOU! ~Allison

  116. Bonjour Stephen! I am thoroughly enjoying your BLOG. Thank you! Good job! I see that you were able to renew your Visitors Visa in France, which is not what I have been told at all. Good news. I have a question. If I come first on a 90 day visa–I am American, can I leave France and go to another Country other than all the way back to America to re-enter for another 90 days. I want to check it out first, I think, but not be illegal at all.

  117. Hi there and thank you!
    I would love help. My long term visitor Visa expires January 14th and I have been trying to book an appointment on line but I cannot get the website to work and I cannot get through on the call.

    I would be going to Montpellier… or I could go to Nime.

    Help! All I want to do is set my appointment 🙂

    Thank you!


    • I went to the Paris prefecture and they would NOT make an appointment for me. They said the only options were online of telephone. Try someone else’s phone or computer/browser.

    • Dear Ms. Strickland,

      Stephen Heiner forwarded your email message.
      I believe that you have the long stay visa and also the OFII stamp which you got once you finished the medical visit.

      Legally speaking the OFII stamp is your immigration ID and its validity is the same as your visa. Therefore the information you need to book the appointment with the prefecture is on this stamp and not the visa. Indeed on the upper left corner there 3 numbers the last of the 3 is “le numéro d’étranger” which is the one used by the prefecture as an ID Nº for your length of your stay. The system generates the confirmation of the appointment called “convocation” which has your ID Nº. It also give you the list of documents to bring at the meeting. Make sure that the file is complete

      This is the most common difficulty when people try to book an appointment through the website.

      Doing it through the phone it used to be very difficult as the line was busy all the time. Today I find a lot easier after navigating through the choices offered. The very first thing again that is asked is the ID Nº. This phone number is not easily found on the site,

      Last comment you are better off taking the very 1st appointment of the day 8:45. Yes you wait at least 30 minutes outside the building as it is better to show before 8AM but you end up being one of the very first ones arriving in that office and you are out of there within just one hour.

      This is for the prefecture in Paris, the other prefectures have pretty much the same procedure.

  118. Hi Stephen,

    I just had my interview with the French Consulate this morning for a long term student visa. They took all my paperworks, asked me no question, fingerprint, paid the fee and took my passport with a prepaid fedex envelope. is this a good sign that i will get approved?

    All the Best,

  119. Hello Stephen , I’m not sure if this would be the right place for my question. I’ve been searching for answers all over the internet but in vain. I’m trying my luck here, if you could help me with this that would be great.
    I’m an Indian working in France now. I came for my masters M2 and have been living in France since August 2015. I would like to bring my spouse to France at the beginning of next year. I found that “long stay visitor visa” type seem to match for this purpose. I would like to know roughly about the contents to be written for the “purpose letter”.

    • Hello Arun

      This is not an area I feel competent advising in (bringing a spouse who was not previously part of your visa application). I have emailed you privately and connected you with a professional who can assist you further.

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  127. Hello Stephen,

    Thanks for this article, I have been searching the internet for more information on this topic and there is very little out there, so this is great!

    I am looking to do the visitor visa application to join my boyfriend (a French guy) in France for about 6 months. I am unsure about the letter of employment however, since I will be leaving my job for this period. I should have sufficient proof of finances to support me during this stay, however I am concerned that they will require me to be employed in the US in order to approve. Do you have any further insight into this?


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  131. I’m surprised by the jump in food costs. I’m currently surviving off of Picard and Marks & Spencer (I refuse to cook in my shoebox in St. Germain) but I figured once I moved to a place with a regular kitchen, my costs would go down. The markets seem to be fairly cheap.

  132. Yet another piece of (possibly useful) information: I now have my plastic “titre de sejour” card. I’ve been through this process once already. So now I am planning ahead and trying to make an appointment early… months prior to my visa expiring… so I don’t have to worry about what I’ll do if they won’t renew it (which they will/should, but I don’t like to worry) next year.

    Guess what? You can NOT make an appointment for a time prior to your visa expiring. Right now I am 5 months prior to visa expiration, and the 1st appointment shown as available is the 1st day AFTER my visa expires. So unless the visa office is closed from now until May 2nd, they aren’t letting me make an appointment until after my visa is officially expired. Unreal.

    • Such a long delay at the Paris prefecture has existed for a long time for some offices. Private life is indeed about that time. Now there is ZERO, truly NO need to ask for an appointment before the card expires. It is even detrimental to you to have an appointment too early as you could lose some months on the validity of the card as they tend to start the new card the day of the appointment in those circumstances. If you past a few weeks and even more a few months, you can always ask for a ‘récépissé’ to bridge until the day of the appointment.

      • never count on that those prefecture appointments are worth close to gold. Exceedingly rare they are cancelled. Also once you have one appointment you cannot get a new one unless you cancel it before and running the risk of losing both as the better deal will surely be gone by the time you can choose it!

  133. Hi Stephen,
    Sooo my passport does not expire until 2019 and i only have exactly 2 blank pages. Will the long-term visa take up one of those pages and is that acceptable or should i think about getting a new visa?
    Thanks so much

  134. I am retired and make the trip to France frequently but hate to leave after only 3 months there. I just left France on December 1 but would have liked to stay during Christmas. At any rate, I have already made air line reservations to stay 3 months (beginning in April) and have written a lease for the same 3 months (while I was in France last month). I plan to make an application to stay 6- 12 months and if and when approved for a Visa would change the air line reservations and lease so that I will arrive earlier and leave later. Also, my appointment with the French Consulate is in late December, more than 3 months before my scheduled arrival time in April, but not when I would prefer to depart which would be February. Can this work? Or do I have to make reservations now that show a stay longer than 3 months? and a departure time within 3 months? Thank you in advance for your help.

    • Dan you have a number of scattered questions. Let me try to get you focused.

      No, you cannot go to a consulate more than 90 days before your departure. It says that specifically on the consulate’s website.

      When you make up your mind about when you want to go, walk back 90 days in the calendar and that’s the soonest you can go to the consulate. If you follow the directions in this post from that point, you will get a visa. 🙂

      • Thank you, Stephen. You are most helpful. So, does that mean I don’t need to show an “e-ticket” for my departure date? I would like to depart on February 15 (within the 90 days of submitting my application), but to be on the safe side, I made air line reservations for the first of April (which I could cancel). Thanks again!

        • Dan – as I said above – my checklist does not include your needing to show them an “e-ticket.” Again, you are obtaining permission to enter their country – a ticket seems to indicate you will get a positive response. Get permission first. I repeat, the French (or any government for that matter) don’t care whether you actually come here during this part of the visa process. You are simply obtaining permission to come. Once you do that, and then you actually do come, there are other steps to complete (which I have outlined). Of course, it is perfectly sensible to, as you have done, buy tickets. But as far as I know, it is not a part of your application.

    • Dan – I stand corrected! Thank you! This is a great piece of info for any of the readers of the blog, though, it surprises me for the reasons I said above – having a ticket presumes a positive response, in a certain way. Nevertheless, follow directions – that’s the key message of this blog 🙂 Bring the e-ticket with the date that matches your request. If other readers have experienced this requirement, please feel free to share with us!

  135. Just a follow up – it looks like the visa appointment lead time right now is SIX MONTHS. It does not appear contingent upon the expiration date of my visa. But it means you must make your appointment SIX MONTHS prior to when you want it. (This is for the prefecture in Paris). Unbelievable…

    (and M. Taquet – there are plenty of reasons to want your visa finalized before it’s expiration date)

    • BT – Were you able to make an appointment six months in advance prior to your expiration? My understanding was that the online system would only accept a person’s request no more two months before expiration. Appreciate your info.

      • Right now I am 6 months prior to expiration. The online site went through the process of taking my titre sejour number, birthdate, etc. then gave me next available appointment times.

        The earliest appointment date that is available is 6 months from now. That is AFTER the expiration of my visa. It looks like I can go ahead and make this appointment reservation, but I won’t be in town at that time. So I have to wait for LATER times to become available. Because of this I did not go ahead and MAKE my reservation/appointment. However it looks like I just make the reservation like I did last time and it will give me the appointment for 6 months from now.

        Maybe what you heard is that you can obtain an appointment date that is at most 2 months prior to your visa expiration date. I do not know if that is the case. For me to have tried to get an appointment date 3 months prior to my visa expiration it looks like I would have had to make an appointment about 3 months ago – which is actually about the time when I picked up my card from the office from LAST YEAR’s renewal process.

        I will update on this blog about 1 month from now when I accept an appointment time for June.

          • You are welcome and keep in mind that the Paris prefecture is currently massive renovation and this disorganises some their work AND has recently set up the text message alert to pick up the new card when ready. It is not properly working either. So people need to be very careful when renewing their immigration status in Paris right now and probably for most of 2017.

      • These 2 months come from OFII and clearly they have not followed the steady increase in the delay to obtain the appointment. These last days, I had clients arguing I was wrong since the French administration stated 2 months. Then when they saw the appointment secured 2 days after the expiration date, the discussion changed.

    • I confirm the blocking of the prefecture if one tries more than 6 months before. I also confirm that the appointments are issued right now about 6 months in advance. It is quite unusual and I do not have an explanation for this.

      I know that they are valid reasons for people to attempt to book an appointment before the expiration date. The risk is that the new card starts at the date of the meeting and not the expiration date of the old card. People decide if this is worth it.

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  139. I totally agree. Home is where you feel at peace. I am not there yet. If i could I would move to Paris in a heart beat. Money and my age at the moment stop me. However I am busy working on it.

  140. Thank you Stephen. My family and I are making the deliberate decision to move to Paris next June. We have experienced the question “Why?” every time we tell someone our plans, the second question is always “Do you have family there?” and our answer is “No.” “Is it for work?” is inevitably the third question, and our answer to that is also a resounding “No.”, as my husband works for a company in Australia (our country of birth), and holds a position of working two weeks, and then having two weeks off, which has allowed us the flexibility and freedom to pursue our dream of living in Paris. Our intention is for our children to attend public school in Paris, learn the language, and hopefully, lay the foundations of our future in France. Only time will tell, but we are going to give it our all.

  141. Hi Stephen,
    Thank you for providing all of the above listed information – much appreciated!
    I am Australian and currently on a 1 year tourist visa in France. I recently went for my appointment to extend and have been asked to return with further documentation. I am however having difficulty in getting information from the Prefecture de Police regarding the requirements of said documents (and yes, I know, I should have confirmed at the appointment – but I did not!). These are for (1) proof of income & (2) health insurance. Is this something you could possibly advise on?
    (1) Proof of Income – They have requested ‘relevés bancaires en francais’. From your experience, does this means a line by line translation of my most recent bank statements (I have two – 1 US & 1 Australian), or does it mean a summary of assets across the two accounts – translated into French and converted into Euros?
    (2) Health Insurance – I currently have World Nomad Health Insurance but this expires this month (hence why I need to come back with another), and I require ‘assurance medicale 1an en Francais’ for my new visa application. From your experience, if I were to move forward with another policy from world nomad (I feel comfortable with them, and like their customer service etc), would I require the full policy to be translated into French, or just the page outlining what I am covered for. Alternatively, is it better to purchase health insurance in France, from a French health care provider such as Generali?
    Apologies for all of the questions. I understand that you do not work for the Prefecture de Police or immigration department. I’m just hoping that you may have come across these questions/requests before.
    Thank you!

    • Hi Bethaney
      The ideal is to have French bank account statements. If you don’t have a French account yes I think having the originals with a French cover page explaining the moving monthly averages with conversion to Euros would be a step in the right direction. You don’t even want to know what a line by line translation would cost.

      As far as the insurance question I highly recommend getting a french policy. It will likely be cheaper and you won’t have any worries about translation. You can send me an email and I can connect you with someone if you would like.

  142. Hi Stephen,
    Thank you for the quick response!
    I do not have a french bank account (as I am unable to work in France and therefore have no income it did not make sense for me to get one), so a summary of my savings across my Australian & US accounts translated into French and converted into Euros seems like the best way to go.
    As for insurance, I agree. As much as I love World Nomad I believe its time to transition to a french policy. Please can you confirm your email address (I can’t seem to locate it on the site), as any recommendations would be much appreciated.
    Thank you!

    • Allow me to respond. You are now a French immigrant and it is now mandatory to have a French bank account if you live in France, just like you must have health insurance valid in France. What you are doing ” so a summary of my savings across my Australian & US accounts translated into French and converted into Euros seems like the best way to go.”

      will only buy time and you will go back 3 months later with the proof of the opening of the French bank account and the last statement.
      So you are much and I mean MUCH better off opening the account NOW!!! You might still have to go back to show your statements but the hardest part will have been done and the problem is fixed sooner than later.

    • Hi Bethaney,
      I am Australian and I think I might face the same problems when I go to renew as well. It is really difficult opening a bank account in France since terrorist attacks without considerable amount of wealth to invest in an International Bank (such as HSBC)
      I have a 2 year travel insurance comprehensive policy with QBE in Australia which has already paid out twice in France! Surely this is enough!

      • Bethaney if you join our Facebook group there are at least a couple Americans who have opened a French bank account with standard opening balances. We can pass on names and contacts to you there.

        • I have the list of the documents needed for just about all the different immigration statuses that exist. I can send the one for you through email.
          Keep in mind that the entire documentation submitted at the prefecture must be in French and therefore a policy 100% in English means a considerable cost for translating those documents. Keep that in mind when you shop for the best deal!!
          Once the logic is understood and the requirements accepted, the renewal of this immigration is simple and quite cheap.
          The cheapest policy that complies with the prefecture is 410€ a year, but I am not sure that the coverage it offers meets your expectation.

          I can be very useful in making this process simple and cheap even when you add my fees!!!!

      • BTW, this is a side issue but it can help considerably. Having a bank account in France is MANDATORY for everyone living in France including you. I know about the difficulties of opening an account for foreigners and YES the French banks state that you are foreigner and therefore you “Must” open a non resident account which asks for exorbitant deposit. Now if you “demand!” to have an account opened as a French immigrant which you are BTW, it changes radically the response coming from the bank. It is does not, then you can report this to the “Banque de France” the French Federal Reserve, suddenly the bank behaves differently!
        This is just food for thoughts

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  144. Hi there, thanks for this really helpful post and questions. Do you know if I could do a side trip to Switzerland as it is technically not part of the EU to gain a 90 day tourist visa? I really only need to renew for another 3 months but to go to London is difficult from the ski fields in France.
    Also to apply for this extension, do you know would I just attend an interview at my local prefecture? presumably I would not need to go to Paris
    Thanks for your help!

    • Liz

      If your question is whether Switzerland is outside the Schengen zone, as London is, the answer is no. If the requirements of your visa are that you leave Schengen, CH does not qualify.

  145. Hi Stephen, Liz, Jean,
    Thank you all for your feedback! I will endeavour to open a french bank account prior to my appointment, though as I do not want to transfer my savings from my Australian & US accounts into said French account (I charge everything to my credit cards and manage payments online) – I will still have to find a solution to providing those account balances in French.
    I have had no luck to date in confirming with the prefecture de police on what documentation will suffice. But I will update here if and when I do for those that are facing the same issue.
    I was living working in New York when I applied for my initial visa so all of my documentation was written in English. I had assumed (I know, you should never assume!) that documentation for the renewal process would be the same. So the request for everything translated into French has thrown me for a bit of a loop. It may have been easier (and only slightly more expensive) to fly back to the US to renew!
    Stephen if you could please provide your email address I will email you direct. I would love your recommendations on the best french health insurance providers for foreigners living in France.
    Thank you.

  146. Thank you so much for this! I’m renewing my VLS in March and this has put my mind at ease. Any health insurance recommendations are greatly appreciated, as I dislike my Cigna plan and feel it’s time to move on to a different company. Thank you, SR

  147. Hello,

    I am a high school student in Colorado and I am studying the country of France currently. I have read your blog and would like to ask you some questions.

    When you first arrived in France what was the biggest cultural difference you had to face?

    What is your favorite thing about living in France?

    What is your least favorite thing about living in France?

    Would you say you had any false perceptions about Paris before moving there or was everything exactly the way you thought it would be?


    • Cameron

      This sounds suspiciously like a homework assignment. Keep in mind that in a past life I taught high school students…for 15 years, so I can spot them :0

      But in appreciation for said assignments, and a desire to remind the youth that research matters, I am confident that you will find all the answers to these questions, in lengthy form, on this blog. Just scroll down to the list of articles and I’m sure you’ll find article titles that should lead you to your answers.

      If you need clarification on anything after having done that research, email me. That address is on the site too 🙂

  148. Thank you for the depth of detailed information. I have a few questions of my own:

    We are American citizens living with permanent Mexico residence visas in Mexico (for 8 yrs now). Must we be in the USA to begin the long-stay visa process, or could it be done within Mexico? What type of office are we looking for, specifically?

    We are hoping to spend 6 months in France starting later this year 2017. We were intending to buy a return ticket 6 months later (thinking positive), and booking a rental for 6 months. Do you see an issue with our being presumptive with our plans?

    We are not legally married with a certificate, but rather, “common law” and did actually get married, just without the paper formality. We work online and get paid into a US bank acct, have 2 business bank accounts listing both of us as signers on the account. Will they understand marriage with no certificate status? Thoughts?

    Will we be given an extension of our tourist 90-day visa if need be, for the sake of awaiting the processing of this long-stay visa?

    Thanks so much for your help and availability, it is appreciated!

    • Thank you for your message
      1 – We are American citizens living with permanent Mexico residence visas in Mexico (for 8 yrs now).
      This means that you have the right to ask for an immigration visa at the French consulate either in Mexico City or another city depending on where you life in that country. When you fill out the form you add the information about your residency rights. This is easy.

      2 – We are hoping to spend 6 months in France starting later this year 2017. We were intending to buy a return ticket 6 months later (thinking positive), and booking a rental for 6 months. Do you see an issue with our being presumptive with our plans?
      There is here an important question. The legal immigration status is 3 months and then one needs to leave the Schengen area for 3 months in order to come back for another 3 months. So clearly this regulation is not compatible with your project. The fiscal residency starts in your case with a stay at least 183 days and you intent to not stay in France that long. So you are just in between. So this is where you make a choice, either you stay within the 3 months limit in the Schengen area, or you organise your life around the date of the renewal of your immigration title in France. The good news is that some of this can be done through the website, for example booking the appointment for most prefectures now but submitting the file asking for the visa and all the renewal requests you must submit this file. Also you must pick up the immigration ID in person. So it will require some strategy so those dates comply with your schedule in France.

      Now as long as you do not stay in France more than 6 months, you will not subject to declare your worldwide income to France. The “visiteur” immigration status allows you to do this.

      3 – We are not legally married with a certificate, but rather, “common law” and did actually get married, just without the paper formality. We work online and get paid into a US bank acct, have 2 business bank accounts listing both of us as signers on the account. Will they understand marriage with no certificate status? Thoughts?
      Interestingly enough being married or not does not change much the immigration request for these reasons:
      1 – it is an individual file anyway and therefore both partners have to prove everything anyway,

      2 – in both cases, one needs to sign the affidavit of lodging/support if needed if the documents are in one name. If everything is in 2 names then no problem,

      3 – it is personal documents more than the business ones that matters so no need to prove that you 2 can sign for the company.

      4 – Will we be given an extension of our tourist 90-day visa if need be, for the sake of awaiting the processing of this long-stay visa?
      The legal immigration procedure ALWAYS starts with an immigration visa and therefore it is never possible to “extend” the 90 day visa waiver program. You wait in the USA for the visa to be issued. Some of them like the “mention visiteur” is done very quickly, a matter of a few days, maybe a week once it is submitted to the consulate. So you really do not need any extension.

      I hope that this answers your concerns for now.

      Jean Taquet
      A Survival Kit for Paris SARL
      61 rue de Montreuil
      75011 Paris
      phone: (33)(0)
      phone: (33)(0)
      cell: (33) (0)
      E-Mail: qa@jeantaquet.com
      website http://www.jeantaquet.com

  149. Hi Stephen, could you please clarify what requirement 6 (the vaccination card) was? Is this required to be completed before leaving the U.S. and is it specified anywhere? Thanks so much!

    • Mason – just your basic vaccination card – your doctor should have the records. I suppose you could complete it in France, but you need to be prepared to communicate in French with a doctor and explain why you need all these shots (which you probably don’t – so get the records).

  150. Hello! My husband and I are currently in France on student visas which will end in mid-July of this year (we are in extra-intensive french language classes). My husband has been in contact with a company here in France that is interested in using his services as an addictions counselor – not as a hired employee, but as an independent contractor – which would begin in springtime most likely. Is it possible to apply for new visas while here before our student visas expire, and if so, what kind of visa would we select? And do you have a list of requirements we would need to accompany the visa applications? Thank you so much for your help!

    • YOU
      1 – Hello! My husband and I are currently in France on student visas which will end in mid-July of this year (we are in extra-intensive french language classes)
      I hope that you have gone passed the visa status and that you have received the OFII stamp which is the immigration ID that you should currently hold. This document has your foreign ID Nº.

      2 – My husband has been in contact with a company here in France that is interested in using his services as an addictions counselor – not as a hired employee, but as an independent contractor – which would begin in springtime most likely
      2 comments here:
      1 – the portage salarial makes it possible for consultants working independently to have an employee status. This is important to state since the Student Immigration status only allows you to work as an employee. So this would be a way to start working right away without having to change the immigration. At the same time, the cost of this set-up is awful you retain less than 50% of the money paid buy the client between the social charges and the fee charged by the portage corporation.
      2 – If you have been in France for more than 1year and this is your 2nd renewal then it is possible to prepare the file to request the change of status to become self-employed in France. A status that Stephen Heiner has obtained almost the same way.

      It does not fit with the above 2.
      3 – you can also work in France and invoice from the USA. It is the simplest way of all but you need to comply with some rather strict guidelines to avoid some trouble.

      3 – Is it possible to apply for new visas while here before our student visas expire,
      I would like to expand here because this is very important. You went through the process of obtaining a “long stay immigration” words have meanings and you are now with an immigration status and you are an immigrant of France and have the right to change your immigration status without having to leave France. BTW, you will be asking for a carte de séjour, which the name of your future and maybe current immigration ID.
      These are the steps for students
      the immigration visa at the French consulate
      the OFII stamp obtaining once the physical is done
      the carte de séjour is obtained at the 1st renewal which means the 2nd year in France
      this card is renewed every year unless something in the situation changes

      4 – and if so, what kind of visa would we select?
      Very likely, the name of the carte de séjour would be “Profession Libérale”. The file is made of 3 parts and depending of the people/their profile one is bigger from the other.
      Part 1 – the ID of the person
      what you are used to give passport – address – financial such as bank statements – marriage license – …….

      Part 2 – the project – the business
      the cover letter which includes a tiny business plan
      a resume = CV
      past diplomas
      proof of part experience in the field
      letters of interest from people in France
      Proof of ability to finance such project

      Part 3 – “the glitter” = “the media coverage”
      articles written about you
      articles or books written by you
      awards received
      moral references

      Most of the file will be made of documents written in French either translated into French or drafted in French.

      5 – And do you have a list of requirements we would need to accompany the visa applications?
      I gave you just above a list of what needs to be submitted and also needs to be tailored to your exact situation. I hope that with this you already have a really good good idea of what needs to be proved.

      • Bonsoir Jean ! Thank you so much for your answers. We really appreciate you taking the time to be so helpful and informative. So much to think about and consider! One thing we’ve heard differing thoughts on the amount of money the french government wants to see in our bank account for the “Profession Libérale” carte de séjour visa. If you have knowledge of what this is, that would be so helpful, as I trust what you say to be correct.

        Although we arrived in September, it took until today for my husband to receive his OFII medical exam appointment letter…I still have not received mine. Hopefully in the next few days.

        Thank you again!

  151. hi i came upon your blog by accident looking for information on Paris. i think it is really interesting you live there as an american like me. if you don’t mind me asking what kind of businesses do you own. hope your day is well.

    • Hi there – I run 4 different companies, 2 that are US based and 2 that are based here in France. The two that I run here are related to what I applied for in my profession liberale visa – I write English content for French companies and I help English speakers find apartments here in Paris.

  152. Hello Stephen. My wife and I brought everything we thought we would need paperwork-wise when we came to France last summer as students, in hopes that we would extend our visa to a long-stay status after our studies are complete (this summer). We understand we need to have our marriage license translated and we have a certified copy of such, but apparently the prefecture wants a certified original. To make a long story short, we tried to order one from the site in the US that handles this for our state, but they said since we are out of the country, we would need it to be notarized from the US Embassy since it is a US form and not international. Have you ever heard of this? Only Paris and Marseille offer notarial services once per week, but that is very costly to make a trip for from the Lyon area. The Lyon embassy informed us today that they would not be able to notarized for us on their upcoming “Off Site” day in March. Thank you for your insight you can give me as to where I could go to get this notarized and offering such a great site go us all to glean from.


      • Thanks, Stephen – I’ll do that! Was hoping to not have to spend the euros to make a trip by train to Paris or Marseille just to get something notarized. But it’s got to get done!

  153. Hey Stephen,

    Loving your blog!
    I have been to and from France for a few years now and I am applying for the long stay visa this time and have my appointment mid Feb. I have 2 questions for you and would appreciate so much if you could help because although I know the system quite well now I am still unsure of a few things that they are asking for.

    – If I am running a small freelance business with all my clients in my home country, should I declare this as my form of employment? (I have more than enough money in the bank to cover my stay so not sure if I need to bring this up or not?)
    – I will be staying in a colocation but my name will not be on the lease. For the attestation d’hebergement what information needs to specifically be included? Do they need to state how much I am paying? or does my name actually need to go on the lease?
    Sorry, you may not be able to answer these questions. I’m just running out of options and not sure exactly what I need particularly for the accommodation …

    • Hi Annie – remember that being a long-term visitor means that they don’t care whether you are employed or not. They care about whether you have money. You *may* get a question about where that money comes from and you *may* get asked to provide proof – but I would put that in the “not required but smart to bring with me to the appointment” folder. On the ADH they need to say you are staying there for X amount of time, what you’re responsible for, etc. Your name does not need to be on the lease, but they should assume some kind of liability for your renter’s insurance in the ADH or give you a copy of their insurance.

  154. Bonjour Etienne,

    I could kiss you for being so thorough and informative about this stressful process. I am in the preliminary stages of applying for a long-term visa for my family of three. I am at a loss when it comes to paying taxes abroad. My husband will be employed by his US based employer but his HR dept. seems to think because we will reside in France for a year, we should be paying income taxes in France (41%!). Do you have any insight?

    Seriously, you are my hero right now!

    Elizabeth in Los Angeles

      • No, My husband is an art director for his company and is going to ask his boss (he is based in NYC) for permission to work abroad for one year. The HR person also voiced concerns about the company continuing to pay for our medical benefits if we move abroad. We have many hoops to jump through before getting our visas, you see.


  155. Hello Stephen, thank you for all you are doing. I have searched for your email but not seen it . I am a Nigerian. My husband) who is also a Nigerian is a Doctoral student in Paris. He wants myself and son to join him in France in few months. He is on a scientific visa valid for two years. We are aware we(myself and son) can be depends ts on his visa….famille privee . The French consulate in Nigeria isn’t explicit in what type of visa we should apply for. Husband feels it’s long stay visa from here and we report to OFII on arrival in France for the residence permit. I also read somewhere that he has to apply on our behalf from the Prefecture in France and they communicate to us(beneficiaries) via our consulate. I am confused, is there any way you can advise ?

  156. I planning on applying for a long term student visa within the next month. As I understand, if I am granted the visa it will act as my residency permit and last for the 3 years of my bachelors degree. My main concern has to do with my accommodation and opening a bank account. I have found a place close to the school, but they only rent out the place for a maximum of one year. Do I have to find a new place to live every year? I am thinking of staying in a hotel for a while and then finding a place. I have the funds to support myself, but I’m not sure how I would go about opening the bank account, won’t they require some proof of residency on my part? How much cash am I allowed to bring with me? I suppose I could use online banking to pay for my hotel stay, but I still need cash to get around paris. Also I was wondering if you had a list of things to avoid during the interview.


    • Michael – take small steps first. Don’t worry about a 3 year lease – get a place first so that you can figure out what is best for you. As long as you have some kind of lease – at least 6 months – you should be able to use that for getting a bank account. If you are a US citizen, that’s another kettle of fish and something I’ve already discussed here on the blog. The international rules are normal: anything less than 10k in a particular currency doens’t have to be declared.

      I’ve never had a student visa interview so I can’t offer advice on that.

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  159. Thanks for this very instructive post, especially the last paragraphs about not complaining. I’ll keep these things in mind when a return to Paris next month.

  160. Posts like this are why I love reading your blog. Recently, DS spent a wrenching year in Paris as a graduate student, and most of what made it wrenching were the sort of things you wrote about here. So it wasn’t his fault, after all, as he kept telling us. Old city with old buildings… Phew!

  161. Thanks Stephen! Always a positive to any potentially negative situation. I think it’s all part of the experience, can’t wait to be able to tell people about my adventures/misadventures in France! 17 weeks and counting!

  162. Hi Stephen — loved this post and am delighted to find your blog (thanks to the always-helpful Jean Taquet and his monthly newsletter).

    Cheers and look forward to reading more.

  163. Thank you Stephen, et al.

    This is an extremely helpful post and Q&A – much appreciated! In reviewing the required paperwork (the PDF on their website) to renew the long stay visitor visa, it asks for the “dernier avis d’imposition” — are they asking for one’s last tax filing from the home country (in my case the US)? Has anyone been asked to provide this at their appointment?

    Thank you!

  164. I received this message because Mr. Heiner believes that I can address this issue. The issue seems simple but it triggers a rather complex issue, which can be summed up this way? Are you really a French immigrant?

    I am going to scrupulously follow your message and you will see what I mean by that.
    In reviewing the required paperwork (the PDF on their website) to renew the long stay visitor visa
    1 – So you received a immigration long stay visa that allows you to stay in France 365 days a year. So this is why I call it immigration because there is no end to how long you can stay in France on this immigration status.
    2 – You are thinking or renewing it, which means that you have come to France and went through the OFII physical a few months after your arrival in France. At that time you had met both the police and the Dr. and this bone fides 100% your status as an immigrant.

    3 – A small detail which is not a true detail. You are not renewing a “long stay visitor visa” as your visa is not immigration ID right now, the so-called “OFII stamp” you got at the end of your physical is your ID since it has your foreign ID Nº on it and your French address, your domicile, in short your home.

    4 – Therefore you are renewing your “VISITEUR” immigration status by applying for a carte de séjour, which is a plastic card. BTW, this “VISITEUR” immigration status does not translate by any means to visitor.

    it asks for the “dernier avis d’imposition”
    As immigrant, you might have stayed long enough that you received the French tax statement called indeed “dernier avis d’imposition”. Since you arrived last year and the declaration is done in May you have not declared yet, and therefore the prefecture does not expect you to show this document at the meeting of the 1st renewal of your “VISITEUR” immigration status.
    I would like to go back to 2 issues that could have been overlooked by you.
    1 – If you have stayed in France more than 183 days in France during the 2016 year, you have become a fiscal and a legal resident in France. You obey all the French laws and regulations, and your fiscal allegiance goes 1st to France. It happens that there is a tax treaty between the 2 countries that decides that the unearned income made in the USA is taxed in the USA. Therefore if you have become a French fiscal resident you should declare to the French tax office this May 17, that is the law and this is what the treaty states. It also means that your #1040 that you must fill out must bear your French address.

    2 – I remind you the 3 basic grounds on which your immigration status is based on:
    a) you prove that you have financial means either saving or earnings outside of France that enables you to stay in France. The minimum to prove is 14,000€ a year.
    b) you prove that you have secured a home i.e., an address in France.
    c) you prove that you are covered by a comprehensive health policy valid in France. The prefecture demands that it is either issued in the French language or that it is translated.

    One of the best way to prove financial means is a tax statement called in France avis d’imposition sur le revenu. Prefecture is also asking for 12 months of bank statements to check you are living in France and you are spending a minium of 14,000€.

    are they asking for one’s last tax filing from the home country (in my case the US)
    NO! They are asking for the French tax document for reasons explained above. Now for the 1st renewal for the reasons explained above you could and maybe should submit your #1040.

    Has anyone been asked to provide this at their appointment?
    I understand because you are asking this question that you do not consider yourself as being a French immigrant, even though you are one. You react as if your allegiance still goes to the USA when it is mainly with France, because the tax treaty creates exceptions and you fall into those exceptions.

    Now comes something that most Americans are totally unaware of, all the Préfectures are very lenient with American citizens, so much that it blurs a lot of issues.
    1st example, the “VISITEUR” immigration status for American citizens allows them to state that they are not French fiscal residents because they are not staying in France long enough every year. The prefecture NEVER checks whether this statement is true or not, and therefore accepts that American renew their “VISITEUR” immigration status without giving a French income tax statement. So some Americans renew with the #1040 form and it is OK. Some of them even produce no tax statement and they get away with this most of the time. This leniency is incredible when one thinks how much scrutiny the prefecture applies to study the files.

    2nd example, French residents are all expected to be covered by the public health coverage administration. There again there is never a problem showing a private policy as long as a) it covers somewhat the same as the public coverage b) if the documents are not in French that there are translated.

    My last comment is that these is a cost for many foreigners to have their income declared in France as it takes a professional to fill out the French and the American declarations saying the same thing. To offset this cost there can be 2 reasons to do it:
    1 – under certain circumstances, it is quite possible that there are no local taxes paid in the USA only the federal one.
    2 – filling 5 times in France pretty much guarantees you to obtain the carte de résident which is valid 10 years and offers all the possible rights one can have in France including all the rights to work in France.

  165. Hi Stephen and others,
    thank you for the helpful information! I have to renew my visa soon too.

    I have just one question, will the Prefecture take your passport for the time period that they need to renew your long-term visa? I mean I have to travel very often in the coming months and I need my passport.

  166. Bon Soir Stephen,

    We are a couple from California currently travelling outside of the US and wanted to apply for a french long term stay visa. We meet most of the requirements at first glance, however I have not been able to find the information anywhere about whether or not we can apply for the long term stay visa while in the EU? We are mainly travelling but our current “home base” for the year is with a college friend in Paris. Do you know if we are able to apply while we are in France for the long term stay visa?

    Thanks for the info,


  167. Hi, I’ve read most all of the comments and maybe I missed the answer to this. I was wondering I f you get a long term visa then return to the United States for a short while, could you apply for another same type visa or does it have to be a renewal to be able to stay long term again?

    • Al

      Of course you could let your visa lapse and apply again in the US. But I don’t know why you would. Renewal is just about 3-4 times easier than the original application, and you get no preference for a second application. You’ll start from scratch.

  168. Hey Stephen,

    I’m gearing up for my visa renewal now. Could you provide me with the name/contact info of the translator you used and the French insurance agent? My googling attempts have not been fruitful 🙂

    Also, how did you handle your apartment lease? I do not want to be presumptuous and renew for another year only to be rejected, but I reckon they want to see that I have a place to stay if I’m accepted (my current, renewable contract ends the day of my visa expiration).

    • Melissa

      Please email me and I’ll give you the information you asked for. As for the lease – I don’t quite understand your question. To reply I would just say you need to show a lease that covers at least part of the next period you are asking for. A lease that expires on the day of your appointment won’t work. And it’s not presumptuous to ask for a year because if your visa is denied and you have to leave by mandate of France your lease is not legally enforceable.

  169. Hey Stephen, how long did it take for you to get the first ‘confirmation’ letter back from the OFII, and then the appointment letter? Thanks!

  170. Its been a while since I chatted with you all. Stephen, you have been a BIG help. We now have our carte de sejours. HORRAY! One thing I should share. We were unable to pay for the impot stamps at the Tabbac. We went to a local government agency to purchase the stamps. They accepted a credit card for no extra charge. We are now already looking to renew in one year. I visited the Perfecture this morning and was informed that renewing shouldn’t be a problem and that I can do it 2 months before. I was also told I would need to submit similar documentation the next time, including residence documentation, insurance varification, etc. I forgot to ask if there is a charge for renewal after one year. Does anyone know? Does each Perfecture have separate regulations?
    Thanks again for all your shares, especially Stephen.

    • For such a large amount to be paid – now 269€ – not all the tabacs are able to provide but I know several where it is still possible.

      What you are describing here is the tax office. So indeed the cashier can receive payments for the “normal taxes” as well as “sell” those stamps that are used mainly to pay fees, fines and non tax amounts owed to the French administration.

      It has been more than a year now that the delay is closer to 5 months solid. Therefore I advise you to get on the prefecture website at least 5 months before the expiration of the card so you can choose the day you want as well as the time that is the best for your schedule.

      Based what we know the 269€ cost is for every year and therefore expect the same cost for the next renewal.
      Now that you have fully proved everything about you and your spouse the following years the file is indeed simpler
      aside from your IDs and your address proved with a utility document you must prove:
      your means and often your 12 months of French bank statements should be enough as long as you receive and therefore spend a minimum of 14.000€ a year

      your health coverage valid in France

  171. I just looked on one of Stephen’s sites and think he answered my questions. It looks like there is a lot to do to renew again… and a costs. Since we will not be doing this in Paris, the requirements may vary somewhat.

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  175. Wow! This post of yours comes at a very strange time… and now I am in complete panic mode. Until now, I thought one receives a recipisse at the time of one’s meeting with the prefecture. This my first time renewing my VLS-TS for a CDS. My appointment with the prefecture is next week, although I requested it before my visa expired. My visa is expired but I left before the expiration date and I am within my three-month visa-free stay now. I don’t have a recipisse and I fear that it’s too late to get one. Will this a problem with my file at the prefecture? Would really appreciate your input as I’m completely panicked now on what to do. Thank you!

    • Lucy

      Let me try to clear up some of the confusion.

      A recipisse is a stand-in for a CDS. In your first year you receive neither a recipisse nor a CDS, but your original visa sticker, plus the additional sticker you get from OFII, is your visa.

      I think the problem is your idea that you can flit back and forth between visa statuses, as in, you can be in LTS, and then when that expires, flip over to the tourist visa, and then flip back to LTS. That’s not how it works. When your passport expires, you are ineligible to get it renewed. You simply have to get a new passport. Similarly, when your visa expires, and you do not get an extension (via a recipisse) until your appointment date, your visa is expired. Now, they may be lenient about this at the prefecture, but I’ve never done something like that, would never risk something like that, and have no idea how it can be remedied. I would refer to Jean Taquet, who I spoke about in this article, to help you with this situation.

  176. You may recall that you referred me to Jean previously and we, in fact, corresponded. I didn’t go to his website them, but I just subscribed to it now. Wow! A font of knowledge and experience! Thanks for the lead.

  177. The first question I have when I land in my rented apartment in any arrondissement is, “Où se trouve le Picard le plus proche?” Are you kidding me? After a day’s worth of flâneur-ing, there’s nothing better than to change into sweats, and heating up a hot Picard meal! This is from somebody who absolutely hates to cook.

  178. Hi Stephen,

    If I’m able to find an employer in Paris to sponsor me (and I think I have), how is the process to obtain a long term visa different? Meaning, would having a job guaranteed expedite the process in any way? And what if I end up changing jobs once I’m here? Is that a big deal? Also, I’m living in NYC now and don’t have health insurance. Will I need to get covered before jumping through the hoops?

    • Jeremey

      If you find an employer in Paris you’ll be obtaining a work visa, which is completely different from the different classes of long-term visa. You can’t “change jobs” here like you would in the United States. You’ll have to find someone else who would be willing to sponsor a non-EU citizen to work here, they will have to then help you obtain a work visa. If you quit or get fired, you lose all residency rights and have to leave France in a certain amount of time.

      The health care question isn’t a concern for the French. They don’t care/control what you do in the United States. They only care what happens when you get to their country. You’ll need to show a policy should you go the long-term visa route, but as I said, if you’re looking to be employed here, you won’t be getting a long-term stay visa.

  179. Hello,

    Thank you for this article, it has been very helpful! You mentioned that with this type of visa (a long stay visitor visa), if you are going to leave and cross an ocean, it must be for three weeks or more. I have not read anything like this yet, so may I ask where you found this information?

    Thank you so much!

    • Emma

      You’re taking me too literally. I’m speaking about the trouble it takes to leave. Not personally worth it to me for less than three weeks. There is no verbiage in official government documents about crossing oceans. Or galaxies for that matter 😉

      • Oh haha. Thank goodness! I thought you meant if I was to return home it would have to be for three weeks or more. Just trying to make sure I know all the requirements for this type of visa! Thanks again!

  180. Hi Stephen,

    This blog is incredibly helpful. I live in Boston, and am looking to apply for the visa de long sejour in January 2018, and move to Bordeaux in February/March. I work for a company now, but when I go to France I will be freelancing (independently). Would my income from that be accepted for the financial requirement along with my savings 401K, etc?

    Also, I will be moving in with a French national. Can I just provide their renter’s insurance, or does my name have to be included in the documents?

    Thanks so much,


    • Katie – let’s do the second question first – if you are moving in with a French National (or a Dutch National, or anyone for that matter) you can simply obtain an “attestation de hébergement from him/her along with an EDF and insurance (renter’s or owner’s). If your name is on the lease, you will need a lease and renter’s insurance.

      As for your first question, yes, the freelancing income will be countable towards your resources for your LTS

      • Thank you!
        How would I “prove” that I will be receiving consistent income for a year from freelancing? I will apply when I have at least 1,500 per month for 12 month plus the freelance income which fluctuates.

        Do you think this is sufficient financially security? Also, the cost of living in Bordeaux is less than Paris. Do they take that into consideration?

        Thanks again,

        • Katie – perhaps a letter from your biggest client or bank statements showing consistent deposits? The cost of living in Bordeaux is not significantly different enough for them to adjust what they consider “self sufficient” in France to my knowledge. Several people have written me from the rural parts of France where they reside and they were asked to provide the same proof of level of income as I did when I was still LTS.

  181. May I also ask, first of all if there is an age minimum for the long stay visitor? And second, since you seem to have a lot of experience with this type of visa, is it is allowed to provide a parent’s proof of income and bank statements for that specific requirement (as I know that there needs to be proof that one can support themselves without working while in France)? Not sure if you know the answer to these questions but I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask.

    • Emma – if you read other articles on this site, you’ll find a lot of questions answered, including about the parent’s proof of income and bank statements (they need to write a letter saying they will stake you) and no, there’s no minimum age beyond 18.

  182. Hello!
    I am wondering if I need to bring my original birth certificate? I have copies with me but my original is in the States with my parents!

  183. Thank you for providing this process. I really appreciate that you shared your experience step by step so that at least I will be over prepared 😉

  184. Hi Stephen, I have a one year long stay visitor’s visa that expires in a few months. The prefecture in which I live handed me a form entitled DEMANDE DE TITRE DE SÉJOUR on which I understand I in the question for “Nature de la Demande” the boxes “le renouvellement” and “d’une carte de séjour temporaire” and ” 1 an” . I have 3 questions: 1) on the form, when they ask for my address, do I provide my address and phone number in my home country, or do I instead provide my address and phone number in France? 2) my prefecture does not seem to require health insurance certificate, or tax declaration or bank statements (they provided me with a Pour obtenir une carte de sejour temporaire”). Might they suddenly ask for it when I deliver my application and documents? 3) is it possible as a visitor to receive a multi year visa? Many thanks, Alina

    • Alina

      I’ll answer your last question first – no it is not possible for a visitor to receive a multi-year visa.

      Secondly, you are now here in France on a LTS, so ostensibly your address is here in France, where you are renewing, not some address in the US where you don’t live 🙂

      Finally – whatever is on the demands from your prefecture, there is no way you can get a LTS renewal here in France without health insurance, bank statements/tax return, etc.

      You’re trying to prove to them that you are actually continuing to live here in France, not using this as a shadow visa so you can travel around Europe.

      • Hi Stephen, Thanks for the quick and thoughtful response. I really do still have a home in the US, and really don’t travel around Europe at all, it’s either France or the US for me. I have bank statements for every month I’ve been here, but I won’t be 12 months at the time of renewal (since one renews prior to the expiration of 12 month Long Stay Visa), would that be a problem? Since I wasn’t in France for 183 days in 2016, I won’t have filed a declaration this month (May 2017), so would must I present my 1040? I do have French health insurance and renter’s insurance. If I am here for more than 183 days, I think I understand that when renewing my visa in 2018 that I must present my “DÉCLARATION DE RETENUE À LA SOURCE ANNÉE” for calendar year 2017 at that time, correct -this is an absolute must? Finally, I believe I have read in your forum that after 5 years of Declarations I should be eligible for French national health insurance (as French citizens have it), or do I have that wrong?

        • No, I don’t think you have to have 12 months, per se, you just need to have them dating from your last renewal. Sometimes you renew before, but sometimes you renew after (I wrote recently that I had to get a 2 month extension on a one year PL because of the scheduling issues here in Paris).

          I’m a bit confused on your residence – the long term stay visa is designed around you spending more than half the year here, but you’re saying you spend less than half the year here. When you say you “really do have a home in the US” then you are really stretching the purposes of this visa. It’s for people who live in France, nearly full time as visitors, not for people who split their time between here and the US – the best situation for that is dual citizenship, since neither country cares what you do when you’re a citizen, but any country cares down to the milimeter what you’re doing when you’re a visitor.

          I don’t know if they need to see your 1040 – it’s not really relevant to them as you’re not a fiscal French resident but you can bring it in the “just in case file.” I think the larger question is going to be “why did you get a 1 year visa when you aren’t even here half the year” when you tell them that you didn’t file your french taxes.

          As far as your revenue – this can be proved out by your bank statements.

          I’m not entirely sure what you mean by the five years of declarations – I don’t see a connection between being a visitor here and being permitted to enter the National health insurance system here. If you’re a visitor, you acquire “assurance etrangers,” as you’re a visitor. If you’re in the national health insurance system, you’ve changed your status such that you contribute into the system – it’s not “free,” and how would a visitor do that?

          My caveat to anything I’ve said above – if Jean Taquet says anything on these matters that contradicts me – he is right 🙂

          • Thanks so, so much again Stephen. I still work, but in the US, and luckily I work freelance, so whether I spend more or less than 183 days per year in France will depend on work – I work onsite in the US when I do work. Hopefully 2017 will see me in France for more than 183 days- that was my intention. I suppose I was confused by some 5 year reference I saw somewhere, and I was thinking also that I would be obligated to pay social security taxes (although I could be wrong about that) once I am a fiscal French resident, so I thought mistakenly though those 2 things together might someday entitled me to participate in National Health Insurance. Not all my revenue can be proven by French bank statements. My financial assets reside and income flows into my US accounts, some of my French expenses are even paid from US accounts or US credit cards since my US bank is very good about wire fees and foreign transactions fees and what not – the last friendly bank in the US. That said, if less than 14.000 EUR does not flow into my French account in a given calendar year (more probably always will), but just in case), should I show they US bank statements, too?

          • No. You can be a fiscal French resident and pay no taxes. That’s what I did my first two years (I have a couple articles on the experience if you want to check it out – just look for “taxes” using the search bar.).

            As regards proving your income from something other than French bank accounts, sure. You can show your assets from any country/bank, as long as it gets to a level they are comfortable with.

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  186. Hi, I am wondering if anyone can help me with my situation. I would really appreciate any answer.
    – I am a US citizen and I obtained my Visitor Long Stay French Visa in San Francisco. The visa’s validity is from Sep 27, 2017 to Sep 27, 2017.
    – I entered Paris in December 2016.
    – in Jan 2017, I obtained my VLS-VT (Visa Long Sejour-Valent-Titre de Sejour). It is affixed to my passport. It does not have any expiration date on it. On that day, they also gave me a leaflet with a website and a phone number where I could visit or call to obtain an appointment to renew my stay before my visa expires.
    – The leaflet says to make the appointment 4 months before my visa expires, which would be aroun May 27, 2017.
    – Here is the problem: When I visited the renewal appointment website on May 17, and entered my information, the first listed available appointment is in late October 2017, several weeks after my visa would expire.
    – I am concerned if I take the appointment (say for October 24, 2017) and show up at their office on that date, they will tell me that I have violated the terms of my visa by staying in France between Sep 27 (when my visa expired) and Oct 24 (my appointment date). And in fact they would be correct.

    What do I do? Do I need to go back to he US and get another visa? Is there any other way to get an appointment? I know I could also call to get an appointment, but what if the same happens when I call the listed number? Do I need to get a temporary permit (if there is such a thing)?

    Thank you for any input!

  187. Stephen, thank you for the link. I read it and I believe now I understand what needs to be done. Essentially, I just need to get a temporary extension to my visa (récépissé), which would keep me “legal” until the time of my renewal appointment.

    So I did call and made the renewal appointment for October 24, which is about one month after my visa will expire. They told me to go to the office at 19-21 Rue Truffaut and obtain a récépissé, just as you had mentioned in your story.

    They told me to obtain the récépissé not earlier than 2 weeks before my visa expires. So for instance, my visa expires on Sep 27, I am therefore planning to go their office on Sep 14, but not earlier (nor later).

    They also told me to bring the following when applying for the récépissé:
    1 photo,
    Utility statements for past 3 months,
    The renewal convocation,
    Plus a copy of each of the above.

    I just hope that they won’t give me any hard times when I go there, such as why I didn’t request for a renewal appointment earlier.

    Thanks again for the informative link!

  188. Hello,

    I have a question please : any thing special bout the “quittance de loyer” ? a simple paper signed is enough ?


      • Hi,

        Thanks, but I mean nothing special about I can use an exemple from the internet ? they accept a handwritten signed paper ?

        • Well if you use an example from the internet it’s not going to be a handwritten signed paper.

          In general “handwritten signed paper” is not a formula for success with the prefecture. Have something typed up.

  189. Bonjour Stephen !

    My husband and I are here in France on 10-month student visas, which expire this July 14. We are finishing up the gathering of all the documentation we need to apply for renewal. I have a question I’ve not been able to find the answer to ANYWHERE! So I’m hoping you can help me.

    1. We currently rent a flat here in City A
    2. We attend school in City A – our last day is June 29
    3. Our current student visas expire on July 14
    4. We are moving to City B on July 6 and have leased a new flat there
    5. My husband registered for school in City B to begin in September

    Which prefecture do we go to next week to apply for renewal of our student visas? City A or City B? Both cities are walk-in only for students, with no appointments available.

    Thank you so much for your help. Love your blog!

  190. This is such helpful information. (and my gosh — what a lovely person you are to provide this information!) But I am still obsessing over the health insurance requirement. My husband and I have in-person appts at the Boston French Consulate in about 2 weeks, for our trip, with tickets already, leaving August 28th, returning end of May 2018. we are over 65, retired, in good health, have a place to stay with Parisian friends who have written a letter for us, a good amount of money in savings, regular deposits of social security, and we have worldwide emergency room care reimbursement coverage from our Medicare Advantage plan plus the required evacuation and repatriation coverage. But, I am worried we may need more health insurance? Does having money in the bank matter–or should we still get a policy somehow that will cover less-than-emergency problems? Will we be eligible after 3 months to apply for French medical insurance? Thank you so much. Susan

    • Susan – I must admit I am not familiar as to whether standard Medicare coverage is considered sufficient by the French authorities. I would wait until your appointment in Boston. If they tell you it is insufficient at the appointment, they will simply delay processing your application until you can obtain some, instead of outright rejecting you.

      You can buy “assurance etrangers” while here in France, and you don’t need to wait any amount of time to do so. If you’re asking whether you can be part of the French National Health Insurance system, the answer is no. You can only be part of it if you are working (or have worked) in France legally. It is not available to those on an LTS visa.

      • Thank you! Every new bit of info helps. And again, thanks for this wonderful forum.

    • Around this time last year.

      I don’t have a practice of having “invalid” articles. People are telling me stories about their journey all the time and occasionally something may get updated but there are no “outdated” pieces here. The blog only started in 2013. 😉

  191. It seems like it’d be necessary to submit some kind of application form for the visa renewal (almost like a cover page where I give my contact information and check the box for which kind of visa I’m renewing), but I don’t see anything about that online. Are my eyes tricking me about this?

    Thank you for your very informative article! This demystification has taken a lot of the stress out of the preparation process.

  192. I’m just seeing these comments about the need for all bank statements to be in French… given that my appointment to renew (1st time) is next week I am starting to panic! I do have a French bank account, but I just transfer petty amounts of cash there. My income is deposited directly into my US account. I was going to present statements from both accounts. I’m not really sure if there’s something I should (or can) do at this point aside from bring what I have and hope for the best… (after pouring myself an American sized glass of wine) Any advice?

    Also, I have not gotten a tax form in France yet, which I find odd. If taxes are declared in May, and I arrived end of last August, I should have gotten something in the mail. Did you file them your first year? Or did you just present your US tax returns?

    BTW, Stephen, I went with the translation service and insurance you recommended and it was a breeze! Thank you!

    • Melissa – glad to hear it! This is a renewal so they don’t care about your US account. Just bring your French bank statements, and keep the US statements in the backup folder. Be ready to explain (if they ask) where the deposits are from.

      You are not going to get a tax form from the French. Immigration and Finance are not connected in that way. You need to file on your own. I can recommend someone if you write me. She’s handled my “non revenue” returns when I was a visitor and just helped me file my first personal return with French income (I hired a different firm to file my French business returns).

  193. I never saw anywhere that you need french bank statements, all I have are my US bank statements. Is that going to be a problem? Should I open an account even though it won’t be enough time to get any statements from it ?

    • I think if you can at least prove that you have the account, it will help you. I had an appointment two weeks ago and they would not give me a visa without the account, even though I gave them an attestation that my application was in process at LCL. They gave me a récépissé and told me to come back in October when the account was approved.

    • Melissa – my husband and I had our renewal appointments about 7 weeks ago in Lyon and we brought copies of our US and our French bank accounts. They said they did not want anything about our US account and only took the copies of the French account, which is necessary for them to see you are settled in France.

  194. Can anyone please straight up name a health insurance plan that includes disability coverage? I have found literally nothing, yet it is specifically listed as one of the health insurance “risks” that must be covered.

  195. Hello,

    I have a long term visitor stay visa in France starting next week. As a visitor I know you’re not eligible to work. I’ve had a skype call from a nannying agency in Paris saying I would need a work visa or a titre de sejour (residency card). Would I be eligible for this position if I acquire a residency card as a long term visitor stay?


    • No. You cannot legally work in France for something like nannying on a visitor visa. You signed an attestation in applying for your visa in which you specifically said you would not.

  196. Super helpful post, thank you! I just returned from the police station and it was dead — maybe a lucky byproduct of it being August in Paris? I got in quickly and nabbed a recipisse, it all took place as you described. Now for my question: my appointment for renewal isn’t until December 29! I was hoping to go back to the U.S. for the holidays, but that appointment date is killing my plans. Do I have any options for getting in sooner? Could I go to the office and camp out and see what happens, or is that crazy talk?

  197. Thank you so much for this write up! So as long as you work for only non-French companies and clients, you can have the long stay visa and continue that work? I freelance in America for mostly US/UK clients, and I’m looking to live in France but continue that work.

  198. Hello Stephen!

    I just want to firstly say that you have a wonderful thing going on here – thank you. The sharing of experiences is often underestimated, especially concerning these types of topics which can seem overwhelming to those who have never gone through the steps. So again, thank you for taking the time to share with us.
    I wanted to ask you a question for my parents regarding an initial long term stay visa application. We did a test run of a month or so in Normandy, and they loved it. They have decided to apply for the long term visa when they get back to the United States in a few weeks. Our question is regarding the translation of documents. Would you be able to tell us what exactly should be translated for the first application? Our main concern is bank statements. My parents’ statements are lengthy – very lengthy – and all in English. They plan to open the French bank account, but as this is the first application and not a renewal, the United States accounts will be used. I am hoping that these will not need to be translated, as it would be incredibly expensive. Can you shine some light on this topic for me?

    Again, I thank you for your time and effort. We are all from the United States. I am currently a university student studying in England. I’m trying to doing everything that I can to help this transition for my parents. It’s all very exciting!

    Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.

    Best regards,

    – Armani Trotman

      • Hello Stephen,

        Thank you for the quick reply! I am very happy to hear this, and have already told them. We will be regrouping later before they return to the United States. Hopefully that solves all the questions that they could have, but if there are more, I hope you don’t mind if I ask you more about your experience.

        I know you aren’t running a business here in the comment section and are probably very busy, so I want to say thank you again for taking the time to respond.

        All the best,

        – Armani Trotman

  199. Incroyable! As an American with an 8-5 job and two weeks of vacation that goes so quickly, and health insurance costs for my family that eat up a good chunk of my paycheck, I go a little weak in the knees contemplating this smorgasbord of benefits. OTOH, I understand the reality that the benefits so many American progressives see as “rights” have to be paid for by someone else. I really enjoyed this thoughtful and nuanced post about an issue I think about often.

    I found your blog via the Art of Charm blog, and look forward to exploring more.

    • Brigette – it’s precisely because I’ve been doing a lot of work for AoC that my own little labor of love blog has had so few updates, but that should be changing soon as I’ve made some adjustments to do more “leisure” writing 🙂

      • I neglect my blog, too, mainly because of work (you know, the place I DON’T get 6 weeks of vacation and a 13th month of pay to cover taxes) and my 4 kids. You’re neglecting yours for a much cooler reason. AoC is a great site. Can’t believe the podcast has been around more than 10 years and I only discovered it this month. Ridiculous. Shows you how much great content is out there…which is a little discouraging as I contemplate strategies for being heard above the din.

  200. Hey all!
    A few questions about my French long-stay visa, but I’ll start with the most important one:

    My Visa finishes the 20th of February. On the 21st of February, can I still be in Europe under a traditional 90 day tourist visa (I’m American). If so, do I need to get this stamped/leave the country/leave the EU entirely?

    • Christian

      This is a mistake people make a lot; they think they can just “roll over” to the tourist visa. This is not legally possible and can result in a fine if you’re caught. Your visa ends on the 20th of February, which means that’s the end of your legal stay in the EU/Schengen. Easiest fix for this is to head to London (that leaves Schengen) and come back the next day and your entry stamp will start the new 90 day stay. You can’t just “hop” over to another visa the day your old visa ends. That’s not how visas work.

      • Thank you. I’ll probably have to apply to renew my visa anyway, since it seems I’ll be staying more than a few months after February. Thank you for this page, it’s a gem for people in this position.

  201. Hey, Stephen, your story has inspired me to not give up just yet! Congratulations and thank you for posting this.

    I do have a question regarding this Profession Liberale: when applying for a French visa from my country (South Africa) it seems there are no visa options to apply for to have your own business in France (i.e. Professional Liberale does not feature at all in the drop down list of visas to select from to apply for). This is a problem I’ve seen writers from other countries write about, too. So my question is, is it only possible to apply for this visa once in France already?

    • Karma – here’s the thing – there’s not even really info on how to apply for Prof Lib when here! The French government is simply not helpful on this front. Might I suggest calling your embassy and asking whether you can apply for it from SA?

      I maintain the advice that I gave – if I had the savvy and know how I would have skipped my two years as a visitor and jumped straight in to Prof Lib. But I was clueless, so I couldn’t 😉

      • That’s it – you’ve hit the nail on the head! There is just NO info available on these various types of business visas (bar the blogs such as yours I’ve come across). I have spoken with my embassy who keep referring me to a 3rd party company called Capago who handle all Italian and French visas, however, Capago have never even heard of “Profession Liberale” or Carte de Commerçent… It seems useless to even try this route :/

        I’m with you on that, I’d rather have the necessary visa before making the move back over – moving overseas ain’t for the faint-hearted, it’s emotionally (and financially) very taxing!

        May I ask where, then, did you find the info you needed to obtain your visa?

        P.S: I have emailed you about a consultaion.

  202. When I was visiting Paris with my 30-something son ten years ago I mistakenly bought two carnets of youth tickets, rather than regular tickets, at a Metro vending machine. Of course we were apprehended by the RATP flying squad (I still didn’t understand the problem) and fined €100 on the spot. The inspector seemed apologetic, but we still had to pay. He gave us a pass that allowed us to ride the Metro for the rest of the evening. I use a Navigo Carte now.

  203. Hello All,
    I have a question to renew my French long-stay visa,
    My visa is going to expire on 31th of October 2017, I have just finished my Ph.D. in April 2017, Now I want to renew my card but i don’t have any inscription right now for the whole year 2017/2018, I will be enrolled in next semester from January to April 2018 for French language course diploma. So my question is one-semester inscription is enough to renew the card and there will be an issue that I have one-semester inscription and has nothing to do in these months? I m really worried about the renewal of card and I have very less time in expiration of visa.

  204. Hi there,

    Question for you — I am considering moving to France temporarily on a long stay visitor visa (for six months to a year), while still doing some consulting work for an American company. Would you be able to explain what you know about French taxes in this situation?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Lauren – you fall under the circumstance I mentioned in this article. On a long-term stay visa of more than 6 months you are required to file a tax return even if that tax return indicates no income earned in France.

          • Thanks for replying even if this already a 2 year old thread. I am in the process of applying for a long stay visitor visa and has just been pacsed. I read somewhere it will help my dossier if I have some form of income coming from outside france like a remote job. Is it true or even legal? As long as it is not a french based firm

          • Rosel it doesn’t matter whether the income is from a job or from savings or from a trusth fund. When you say “help your dossier” all that matters is that you can prove to the French you have money to stay and not compete in their job market. Whether that’s from a remote job or otherwise is of no concern to the French.

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  207. Hi,

    I have a few questions to ask you about your OFII revisit appointment. When you went to the prefecture to change your status to Profession Liberale, how did the Prefecture inform you that you will need to revisit OFII? Did they tell you verbally, were you given anything in writing or they gave you an OFII appointment letter?

    If you were told verbally or given a letter that you need to revisit OFII, did you contact OFII to make an appointment or were you sent an appointment letter at home without you ever contacting OFII?

    Finally, after you completed the OFII classes, did you have to give your OFII certificates to the Prefecture in order to renew your recipisse or CDS?

    • Tom you get a letter, and that letter has an appointment for you. I have the certificates of completion on file but OFII has not asked me for them. They are notified of the completion of my classes by my attendance that day. The certificates are just nice formalities.

  208. Hello, you are a gem for hosting this space loaded with information. Thanks for this.

    We are currently in France with a long-stay visa. It expires in Feb, we are leaving back to our home country (USA) to then return to France in May. My question is around renewal. Can I renew a visa with a date gap from the date of expire, or is this irrelevant? Second question: if we renew for another year (ie: beginning of May) but then must travel out of France to USA (say, a month) for other reasons, will this jeopardize the existing visa? Don’t know the extent of which we can travel out of France.

    Thank much,

    • Mike

      You can’t renew a visa with a date gap. It’s called a “renewal.” 🙂 What you’re proposing is a new visa. You’ll have to repeat the entire process in order to get a visa to return in May. My question is, why not just renew in February and don’t tell the French you are heading out of town for a couple months? Technically speaking the French want you to stay in France for the majority of the year when you are on a long-stay visa, but they have absolutely no way of knowing where you are if you are inside Schengen. You could be in Berlin for the whole year without them really knowing, for example. I’m not recommending this – I’m just pointing out you should renew in February and realize the French are not entitled to know your travel plans for the whole year. Or ever, really.

      • Yes, yes. I figured as much. I will proceed with the renewal for starting end of February then. Lord knows I have no desire to start at the beginning again, ouch. I assume since my passport is set to expire next May, I will need to get that sorted via Paris before I even think about renewing? Meanwhile, I am still awaiting a response from OFII for my initial appointment for the prized sticker.

        • No – the French don’t care about when your passport is going to expire, as long as it’s not within 30 days of your appointment. But sure, if you want to renew early, there’s nothing wrong with that, but given your plans, I would wait until you’re stateside, otherwise you’ll be constrained in your travel while it’s out of your possession here.

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  210. Thanks for this site, it’s a lot of work (and repetition, and we need it!). My 1st year long stay visitor’s visa is about to expire (end November). I did go into the Prefecture (Perigueux) middle of August to get information, and she said return end of September only (no appointment necessary).

    I arranged all the documents, and called the Prefecture to verify that I could just show up, and the person handling foreigners said to just come two weeks before my visa expires, that no appointment is necessary and I shouldn’t come too early. This worried me, and I called back two times since, always get this same man on the line and am always told the same thing (emphatically).

    This differs from everything I am reading online. What are your thoughts?

    • Hi Sarah! Perigueux is also my prefecture, so I’m curious how it went for you. Do you have a French bank account? Did you have to provide proof of insurance? I went to the prefecture a few weeks ago with what I thought was a complete list of documents, and they turned me away without much additional information. Gave me a list, made some additions to it by hand, and chastised me for not speaking French (which I recognize is terrible). Would you mind detailing what you brought and whether it worked? Email is fine too if you’d prefer! Thanks, and I hope it went well for you!!

  211. 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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  213. Hi there,

    I missed my appointment because I was in hospital and am trying to figure out how to book another one online. Unfortunately the working holiday visa I’m on has just recently expired. How do I book another appointment online so I can rectify the situation?


  214. For renewal of carte de sejour, do they want birth certificate issued from within 3 months? (Or only the translated copy needs to be dated from within 3 months?)

    • I’ve heard tell of this “three month” guideline before but I’ve used the same translation each time it was needed and it was more than a year old the last time I did.

      • Can I ask which prefecture you went to? Cuz I understand things can vary between the different prefectures.

        • I always go to the Paris prefecture. That’s the only one I can speak definitively on. But this idea of “retranslating” documents seems crazy to me, especially since they don’t seem to examine the official translation stamp anyway, but are concerned as to whether it’s a French version of the original document.

          • For French people they usually have to give birth certificate issued from within 3 months when birth certificate is needed, reason is the French birth certificate contains information about any marriages or divorces in their lifetime (and not just info about their birth, even though it’s called a “birth” certificate or acte de “naissance “), so they want a recent copy for any up to date information.
            However for us foreigners our birth certificates will never change from time we’re born till the say we die, so I can’t understand why here they often ask for birth certificate issued from within 3 months (or sometimes it’s 6 months for foreigners) even for foreigners.
            I’ve to renew my titre de sejour (or 1st carte de sejour) next year and I’m hoping I can just use the birth certificates I brought with me this year haha

  215. Did you receive an “attestation ” (just a paper that you can use at the Drs / pharmacies) while waiting for the actual carte vitale ?

  216. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    I am st the precipice of this decision after a recent trip to Paris and other issues. I do have the ability to come for a graduate degree ( I’m a scientific researcher) so that may make immigration a little easier in this regard.

    What I’m wondering is how long you wrestled wiyh this decision before finalizing it?

  217. Hi!! I have a question. I understand that you need a letter of employment. Do they contact your place of employment after submission of this letter. I’m planning to leave my job for this trip and would like to know if there is a way to prove income. I’ll have savings for this trip with bank statement

    • April – you don’t need a letter of employment. You need proof of income. However, the French government do not have the resources to verify these things. If you give them a bank statement that says you have lots of money in the bank, they aren’t going to call your bank. If you provide them with a letter of employment, they aren’t going to call your company. They simply don’t have the manpower to do this. You’re attesting that everything you are saying is true and as long as the paperwork holds up, the paper pusher is happy 🙂

  218. I see that the first year you do not pay taxe d’habitation, but only did when switching to a working visa. I just began my second year and after reporting my revenus, received a letter stating that I owe taxe d’habitation. It seems like just living here continuously means I have to pay this, even though I have a visitor visa. Does this mean that they made a mistake and I can contest it?

    • Melissa – I think it was more likely that my landlady paid my first year’s taxe d’habitation to avoid declaring my rental income. I wasn’t going to tell her I needed to pay it 🙂

      I did pay it when I was a still a visitor – after I changed apartments to one from an absentee landlord to one that was owned by a lady who does everything by the letter of the French law.

      You owe the taxe d’habitation unless you have worked out something with your landlady/landlord otherwise. I just got my love note from the Finance department today myself.

      There’s nothing to contest since it’s not a mistake to receive this tax. There’s no exemption for being a foreign national.

      • Thanks for clearing that up. It was quite the surprise… even stranger, my roommate (another American who came here at the same time I did) hasn’t received anything regarding taxes. Lucky me 🙂

  219. Hello Stephen,
    Basically, for many reasons Auto-Entrepreneur is not a good choice if you’re sure to make more than 32 K€.
    Choosing the right Legal Status is the first step (EI, EIRL, SA, SARL, Liberal). Then, depends on your goals, your adviser should help you to take the good decision to get the balance sheet (bilan comptable) you need.
    I like your blog. It also helps me to improve my (bad) English.
    Good luck with your citizenship applying. It will be great when You’ll be a “compatriote” 😉

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  228. Congratulations!! This is a very happy intermediate ending!! I too am astonished at all the innovations they’ve been implementing. What next? A humane treatment in all the administration offices?!

  229. (Belated) felicitations and thanks for sharing your experience so that we all may learn! I’m on the same path as you, on my second year as visiteur and hoping to get my first CDS as profession liberale next year. I’m in the research phase, and this is invaluable. I had the pleasure of the SMS from the prefecture and electronic timbres when I last renewed – who knows what crazy innovations will be in place by the time I go for my (fingers crossed) four-year card! Thanks again 🙂

  230. Has anyone been able to get a carte vitale with a long-term visitor visa? My understanding is that the law says we’re eligible but we’ve been hitting administrative roadblocks.

    • What kind of longterm visitor visa?
      I’ve received my CV (4 months after the application was sent off, and just 5 months after my arrival in France, I think it’s considered fast here already…)
      Did you check the ameli website for the documents required for application for CV for people with your situation (the kind of longterm visa you’re on)?

        • I thought for this kind of visa you have to get your own health insurance and provide proof of this when you apply for the visa?
          Check out PUMA, it’s something kind of new here but supposed to mean healthcare coverage for everyone, you just need to have stayed here legally for more than 3 months to apply, but then I’m not sure if it applies to the kind of longterm visitor visa you’re on though.

    • I believe that I need to rectify a couple of things as I answer your question.

      Has anyone been able to get a carte vitale with a long-term visitor visa? My understanding is that the law says we’re eligible but we’ve been hitting administrative roadblocks.
      If I answered your question literally I would have to answer NO, it is impossible. I believe that you are referring to an immigration status called “VISITEUR” and not the visa. Therefore once you hold the OFII stamp which the initial immigration status, then YES, you are eligible to sign onto the public health coverage scheme, ASSURANCE MALADIE, and you get it through your local CPAM.
      There are 2 conditions the CPAM is very strict with:
      1 – prove that you live here and you are indeed an immigrant and not an extended tourist.
      2 – the birth certificate issue.

      So if you could be more specific regarding what kind of issues are you faced with, I could help.
      Also for about a year (most of 2016) CPAM had a very strict interpretation of what is an immigrant, residing in France, and holding a carte de séjour ‘visiteur’ was not a sufficient immigration status. Now this ruling has been reversed.

      • Do you have a reference to the ruling that was reversed? It sounds relevant to our situation.

        My wife has been here since 2014. We’ve been renting a house here for 2 years. She has been in France this entire time except for two week-long trips to London. She has a carte de séjour visiteur. We’ve been told by OFII and the CPAM English language helpline (in the latter case at least a dozen times) that we are eligible with the CDS visiteur, and that the only requirement is that we have been residing legally in France for 91 days. We were told that the type visa was irrelevant (I’m a software engineer and can work remotely, so I work for a US company, get paid in US dollars from which US federal and state taxes are deducted, and what is left gets deposited in a US bank. Thus the CDS visiteur). When I went to OFII for my titre de séjour, they actually handed me the CPAM application forms. We made an application to the préfecture (in our case in Vannes), had all the documents translated (quittance, utility bills, Orange bills, birth certificates, proof of income, etc), submitted them, and waited. When we checked on the status after two months, we were told that they couldn’t issue it to a CDSV. We went to the office of our local deputé, and his assistant called CPAM in Vannes, and from what I was able to understand, he was told that they literally couldn’t enter the application into the computer because CDSV wasn’t an option in the software. Also that French law is very complicated, and that this was a decree rather than a law, and that we should probably take this to a jurist. We’ve never actually been denied a carte vitale, either, it’s just been in limbo.

        • Charles,
          If you want me to help you with this situation, you must much more precise describing the situation. I believe that there are a lot of errors made, and I tried to identify some of them but I am not sure I got all of them.
          PUMa & Carte de séjour -VISITEUR-
          This is quoting the PUMa regulation. There is a lot more to this especially when you add the carte de séjour mention visiteur in it. Keep in mind one thing, the foreigner MUST prove that payment of premiums towards the health coverage.

          CPAM & carte de séjour -visiteur-
          CPAM reversed indeed a ruling that was in forced during the year 2016. “VISITEUR” was excluded of the then CMU/PUMa coverage. Today it goes through without problem on that end.

          Préfecture & PUMa & CPAM software does not discriminate between the cartes de séjour
          This makes absolute no sense at all. I am guessing of a different reason. As stated above the applicant to the carte de séjour must prove paying for the health coverage and this is not mentioned in the description. I assume that there is also an error here, it must be CPAM and not prefecture here where the file was submitted.
          This is not true anymore and also the software is not set up this way, it does not discriminate between the cartes de séjour that I know off.

          The 3 most common problems
          I believe that I can help as I have done quite often. These people are not using the right wording to explain the situation.
          These are the issues that currently exist and for some of them there is just a need to push with a higher hierarchy.
          1 – old regulation the “visiteur” is refused, then appeal the decision or resubmit
          2 – insufficient proof of a lawful stay in France – the carte de séjour and the French income tax is not enough, sometime 3 proof per month for 6 months is barely enough to prove the physical stay in France while holding the CDS visiteur.
          3 – mysterious calculation by Orléans URSSAF regarding the PUMa premium such that Americans with retirement payments from the USA do not count and therefore do not pay premiums which excludes them from holding a CDS visiteur.

  231. Hello Stephan,

    Quick question. I need to get a recipisse because I am in the same boat as you describe above. What do I else would I need to take (in addition to the passport) to this 19-21 Rue Truffaut address?

    Thank you!


  232. Hello Stephen,
    Thank you for your informative blog. I have some questions specific to my situation and hope that you may have the answers for me, who’s in the process of applying for a Long term visa as a non-EU national married to a French citizen. We’re moving to France after several years abroad and this is my first time going to stay in France beyond the 90-day tourist visa period.

    May I know what are the vaccinations that are required? I have a vaccination card, a yellow booklet issued to me when I lived in Germany for a year in 2012, but it only contained the vaccinations I did within that year. Before that and since then, I’ve had more vaccinations that I collected on multiple different cards, having lived in different places. I was thinking I could compile a comprehensive list by myself and show that, but it won’t be “official” so I’m guessing it won’t work… Would bringing my list to a French GP doctor and asking him to “officialize” it do (assuming he/she would)?

    Regarding the X-ray, do you know if there is a way to be exempted from it? i.e. If I show medical proof like a blood test result or a previous vaccination record that I don’t have whichever maladies they are scanning for? I am currently preggers and that is the last thing I want to do, even if plenty of people say “it’s alright”. (My doctor did say “better not” :p )

    I am currently in France (already went to the prefecture and got thrown out >_<) and in a few weeks, I will be going back to my home country to cobble together all the necessary documents and get all the admin stuff sorted out, so if you've any tips on anything I can do now in France it'll help save me another round-trip ticket O_O. In any case, your blog is really a great help. Thanks in advance and cheers!

  233. You will get an immigration visa, which I believe lasts for 3 months so you can start the prefecture procedure to obtain the carte de séjour. In the middle of this complete immigration procedure there is the physical done by OFII.

    In French the mandatory vaccinations
    le vaccin anti-diphtérique,
    le vaccin anti-tétanique,
    le vaccin anti-poliomyélitique,
    I am guessing here but if you lived in Germany, you must have them. So even though I hear your concerns, I do not share them in this case as you should not need any new ones and furthermore, OFII does not demand them as such. So you can go through the procedure without having to prove them on the spot.

    I cannot answer about being pregnant. I dealt with a few cases where the people had such major medical conditions that the physical routine had to be changed for them according to what they were able to handle.
    So if I draw the same comparison, it should not be a problem regarding your condition.

    Here we are dealing with a strategy issue.
    (1)The prefecture is going to give you the official legal answer, which is going back to your country to ask for a visa at the French consulate because it is a big deal for them that non EU citizens enter legally in France when they wish to immigration.
    (2) I tell you that the article 313-11-4º allows you to ask for a carte de séjour WITHOUT THE VISA. This means that you accept to be an undocumented alien asking for a special favour as defined in the law. You would lose all rights to stay in France legally if you stop living together within 3 years.

    So you have a choice and I believe that (2) sounds better than (1). I have attached the copy of the law to prove my case.

  234. Thank you for your blog posts! They are very helpful in figuring out this process. My question concerns the long stay visa. Do you know if the Long Stay Visa permits multiple exits/entries out of France and the Schengen zone? My family and I want to live for a year in France but I would need to commute back to the United States usually once but possibly twice a month during that time for a total of 10-14 days away while my family would stay in France. Also, though we would live in France, I would probably sometimes fly out of Geneva because of the close proximity of the airport there. Would flying out of Switzerland back to the US cause any problems with the visa?


    • Once you have the visa you can come and go as you please. Though, I don’t know why you would choose to fly out of Geneva – you have to take a 3 hour train to get there and CH is notorious for its expensive flights in and out.

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  238. My long term visa expires on the 20th April 2018 however my contractual obligations with a school in Lyon ends in May. What can I do to extend my stay?

  239. I’m a US citizen and will apply for a long term visitor visa, I’m retired (67). I’m concerned about the financial means required. My late husband died of cancer a few years ago and I had to use our retirement IRA to pay for hospital costs and treatments. It wiped out our IRA. I have managed to save about $70,000 in savings, also have my social security which is $2300 per month. I will co-own a home in France with my sister who will also retire there. We’ll love together. Will my savings and income be enough for the visas? I’ll be applying through San Francisco Consulate.

      • Stephen, thank you. For a year I haven’t applied for fear I would be rejected.
        Haha, I meant in the previous message my sister and I will live together…
        I’ll update to let you know how it goes.
        We decided to buy in the north east, close to a prefecture, hopefully in the same city.

        Thank you,

      • Stephen, I have another question. Today I went to my tax preparer and because I have no earned income and only Social Security, the Federal government will not accept my tax return. Evidently with only Social Security, there’s no way to e-file or send a paper tax return in. The San Francisco Consulate requires a recent tax return and perhaps more. I sent an email to them and asked what would be acceptable, I received the usual form letter from them with no advice regarding my predicament. Any suggestions?

        Thank you,

          • Stephen, I’ll post what I find out as to how the San Francisco Consulate responds and if they will accept previous returns without the most recent.

            Thank you,

          • Stephen, after sending an email to the San Francisco Consulate, I received the standard reply a day ago.
            This morning I had a personal reply from the consulate.
            My contact wrote that my social security statement of earnings will be fine.
            I also found out after digging and calling, one can submit a tax return like mine, via..snail mail.
            Thank you for a wonderful blog, it’s not often one can ask questions and receive information (correct and through experience).
            I’ll keep everyone updated.

            Best regards,


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  242. Hi Stephen,

    Thanks for your great blog site! Its so helpful.

    I have a few questions –

    1) Can you send me your health insurance agent’s info?
    2) Where can I get my USA birth certificate translated into French?
    3) Q – I plan to move to Paris for a two year (part time masters program beginning in Setember 12, 2018). I don’t want to wait that long to move to Paris so I will go to Paris on a tourist visa May, June and part of July. Then, I plan to fly back to the USA for my consulate meeting in LA (to get my student visa), wait for it to be processed and then when approved, fly back to Paris as soon as I can. Does this sound like a reasonable plan? I just want to be sure I don’t have to be out of Paris for a certain amount of time in between the tourist visa expires + student visa begins? I have heard in Austria you have to make sure you are out of the country for at least 3 months so want to be sure this isnt the case in France. Thanks so much. I hope to hear back soon. Regards, Annie

    • Hi Annie – I’ve emailed you regarding questions 1 and 2. As for 3 – your plan sounds solid. Just make sure you have your appointment made and that you give yourself enough leeway to get an appointment in LA and your student visa before flying back. If you are back in LA in July and don’t come back to Paris until September I think that’s plenty of time for you to get your visa approved.