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How do I Get a Residence Visa for France?

If you are from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA), and you plan to spend several months in France, it is likely that you will need a residence permit to allow you to stay legally. However, there are several types of residence permit, hence it is important to know which is suitable for your needs. In this article, we will outline the different types of residence permit in France, and how you can apply as a non-EEA national.

What is a French Residence Permit?

French residence permit is a document providing permission to reside in France for longer than three months. EEA, EU, and Swiss nationals do not need to apply for a residence permit. Non-EEA nationals planning to stay in France for less than three months only need to apply for a short-stay visa.

What are the Different Types of French Residence Permit?

There are two broad categories of French residence permit; temporary and permanent. The temporary residence permit is called a Carte de séjour temporaire, whereas a permanent residence permit is referred to as a Carte de resident.

Carte de séjours are available for different purposes including:

  • Employment (salarié)
  • Private or family purposes (vie privée et familiale)
  • Scientific (scientifique)
  • Student (étudiant):
  • Self-employed (travailleur independent)
  • Trader (commerçant)
  • Visitor (visiteur)

In addition, there is a provisional residence permit (autorisation provisoire de séjour), for those who need to stay provisionally for other reasons (e.g. medical or humanitarian).

How do I Apply for a Carte de séjour in France?

If you have a Visa de Long Séjour – Titre de Séjour (VLS-TS) (a visa and permit combined), you will not need to apply to your local Préfecture, but you will need to have your VLS-TS validated within three months of arrival. To do this, visit, administration etrangers en france interieur gouv fr/particuliers you will need to enter your visa details, your date of entry into France, your residence address in France, and your payment information.

If you have an entry and long-stay visa (VLS) marked with “carte de séjour à solliciter à l’arrivée en France”, this confirms that your residence permit must be applied for upon arrival in France. The French Ministry of Interior website states, “if you have a VLS, you must apply for a residence permit within two months of entering France. Please see ‘Where to go’ to find out about the reception arrangements practiced by the competent prefecture or sub-prefecture in relation to your home. A residence permit will be issued to you

  • after having provided the supporting documents relating to the requested category;
  • after having, if applicable, signed the Republican Integration Contract (CIR).”

This confirms you will have two months to apply for your Carte de séjour once you have entered France, and this will need to be completed at the immigration office in your local regional Préfecture. If you are unsure where to go, the French Ministry of Interior provides a website listing all of the regional offices (see ‘where to go’). The process for applying varies between region, and you will be given the forms you need when you enquire. You will also be advised of which documents you need to provide to support your permit application. The documents needed will vary depending on the type of permit you are applying for. You may be asked to provide the following:

  • Your current passport containing your French long-stay visa
  • Your birth certificate from your home country
  • Three photographs which meet the required standards
  • Proof of residence; this may be in the form of an electricity bill, statement of domicile, or rent receipt etc.
  • Proof of income; if you are employed, this may include your employment contract and latest payment slips; if you are retired or unemployed, you will need to provide evidence that you have the financial means to live in France. And if you are self-employed, you may need to provide copies of your accounts, social security details, and/or a copy of your registration with the Chambre de Commerce
  • Details of your Medical Insurance
  • Your marriage certificate
  • Birth certificates of your children
  • Translations of all documents not written in French

If I am a British Citizen Living in France, will I Need to Apply for a Residence Permit in 2021?

Yes, British nationals living in France will need to apply for a residence permit to remain from July 2021 following the decision of the UK to leave the EU. According to the latest guidance from the French Ministry of the Interior:

"All British nationals staying in France must apply for a residence permit.

British nationals and members of their family present in France before 31st December, 2020 must complete their online process before 1st July, 2021. They will be issued with a residence permit marked "Agreement to withdraw the United Kingdom from the Union European".

British nationals arriving in France after 31st December, 2020 will have to apply for a residence permit under ordinary law at the prefecture. As an exception, Britons who are family members of British citizens already settled in France before 31st December, 2020 will benefit from a free visa and access to a residence permit once they arrive in France as the agreement provides.

British nationals, regardless of their date of arrival in France, must hold a residence permit from 1st July, 2021".

This makes it clear that British nationals living in France before the end of 2020 will need to apply for a Carte de Séjour before 1st July 2021. The application process for British nationals exercising their treaty rights in France before the end of 2020 is carried out online, however, as at the time of writing this article, the application website is not yet available.

Wrapping Up

The process you need to follow to apply for a residence permit in France will depend on the region in which you live. You have two months to apply for a residence permit after you arrive on a VLS, giving you plenty of time to collate the documents you need. And if you are currently living in France as a British national, and you plan to remain, you have until July 2021 to apply for a Carte de Séjour. If you are unsure of the process to apply for a residence permit, speak to the regional immigration office in your Préfecture or to an immigration lawyer who will be able to advise you.

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