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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I am leepster and me and my wife currently live in Oklahoma but are planning a move to Amiens, France in the next couple of months and I had some questions about the Visa process, particularly at the Houston Consulate.

So for a little background info on why we are moving. we both graduated with a bachelors degree in history from a local university and my wife has been given the opportunity to finish her french degree in Amiens starting on January 20th of 2014. SHe will be going on a student visa and the university is assisting her in obtaining her visa and helping her obtain her necessary documents. I am going with her to France because I am excited to live outside of the country and Amiens is geographically beneficial for us to plan our next move after she finishes her degree.

So my question is has anyone recently obtained their visa from the Houston Consulate and if so can you give any insight into the exact details they are looking for. I have posted the documents required below with an explanation of what I have found out and what I could definitely use some clarification on.

Original passport or travel document (+ ONE COPY of the identity pages). Your passport must have been issued less than 10 years ago, be valid for at least three months after your return to the US and have at least 2 blank visas pages left. < Already done.

Processing fee < easy enough on the day of the meeting at the consulate

One application form in French OR in English filled out completely and signed by the applicant. NO COPY. < Just have to print out and fill out

One residence form duly filled out (upper part only) < Just have to print out and fill out

One ID picture (white background, full face, no glasses nor hat, closed mouth). < Planning to go to Fedex Kinkos to get passport photos taken

Proof of medical coverage abroad : a letter from your insurance company stating that you are covered abroad or a travel insurance to be purchased from a travel agency (minimum amount of 40,000 US$) for the duration of your stay < My wife has student insurance and I will purchase travelers insurance. Does this document need to be a specific letter from the insurance provider or will proof of coverage through receipt from purchase qualify?

A non criminal record certificate to be obtained at the police’s office of the city of residence < Contacted my local PD today and they said I can obtain this document in 24 hours but that it is just for my resident city. I feel that is what this line is stating the record needs to be for but any clarification is appreciated.

Deed of your house/appartment in France < Biggest question on this one, do I have to have a confirmed lease? will a hotel address work till we find a more permanent residence? and finally I have been using pap.fr but is their an easier way to get a lease on an apartment?

Financial guarantee such as
Letter from your bank stating that you have sufficient means of support to live in France;
Justification of retirement pensions;
A notarized declaration of your sponsor stating that he/she will be responsible for all your expenses and a proof of his/her assets. < The financial support is my other biggest question, on the student they give a required provable amount of $825 a month, but I cannot find anything like this for the long term stay visa. Is there a calculation they use or is it based on each individual applicant? Finally is the letter a verification of funds? and does the letter need to include proof of assets like the sponsor option requires?

A note, dated and signed by the applicant, stating that he/she does not intend to have in France a paid professional activity which requires a work permit. < Does this need to be notarized?

I will not need to work during this time because it will be for January to June and then we will be coming home to start this process all again for graduate school in the UK. I appreciate any responses or assistance that any one is willing to share, and I look forward to being a part of this community. If there is any other information you need me to provide to answer any questions please just let me know.

Thanks!
 

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Welcome to the forum. Can't say that I have ever had dealings with the Houston consulate (actually, I have never managed to have a real visa for France - but that's a long story...) but can make a few suggestions based on those who have passed through the forums in the last few years.

Proof of medical coverage abroad : a letter from your insurance company stating that you are covered abroad or a travel insurance to be purchased from a travel agency (minimum amount of 40,000 US$) for the duration of your stay < My wife has student insurance and I will purchase travelers insurance. Does this document need to be a specific letter from the insurance provider or will proof of coverage through receipt from purchase qualify?
A receipt for a policy with the details of the policy terms should do the trick.

A non criminal record certificate to be obtained at the police’s office of the city of residence < Contacted my local PD today and they said I can obtain this document in 24 hours but that it is just for my resident city. I feel that is what this line is stating the record needs to be for but any clarification is appreciated.
If the list says to get the certificate at your city of residence, then do it that way. The request for the police report seems to vary by consulate, so get them what they are asking for.

Deed of your house/appartment in France < Biggest question on this one, do I have to have a confirmed lease? will a hotel address work till we find a more permanent residence? and finally I have been using pap.fr but is their an easier way to get a lease on an apartment?
Perhaps someone has recent experience with the Houston consulate, but in general it is NOT a good idea to try to nail down a lease until you are on site. A confirmed hotel or other temporary accommodation should be sufficient.

Financial guarantee such as
Letter from your bank stating that you have sufficient means of support to live in France;
Justification of retirement pensions;
A notarized declaration of your sponsor stating that he/she will be responsible for all your expenses and a proof of his/her assets. < The financial support is my other biggest question, on the student they give a required provable amount of $825 a month, but I cannot find anything like this for the long term stay visa. Is there a calculation they use or is it based on each individual applicant? Finally is the letter a verification of funds? and does the letter need to include proof of assets like the sponsor option requires?
Generally, the consulates won't give out a figure for "adequate" financial backing - but figure you'll need roughly the same amount to cover your own expenses as to cover those of your student spouse. You may want to show that your combined financial resources will cover your intended accommodation (i.e. that you will have 3 times the rent) so you should continue to peruse the apartment ads in pap or leboncoin or something similar.

A note, dated and signed by the applicant, stating that he/she does not intend to have in France a paid professional activity which requires a work permit. < Does this need to be notarized?
If they don't ask for notarized, don't bother.

I will not need to work during this time because it will be for January to June and then we will be coming home to start this process all again for graduate school in the UK. I appreciate any responses or assistance that any one is willing to share, and I look forward to being a part of this community. If there is any other information you need me to provide to answer any questions please just let me know.

Thanks!
Just one comment - finding accommodation for six months (or less) may be tricky. You may want to check with the school to see if they have any resources to help you in this. (Example: There is an association called Science Accueil that helps students in the scientific field find a place to live and other resources during their stay. Ask if there is something similar for the field your wife is studying.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Bev!

We will contact the university she will be attending about potential living arrangements. After typing this I also thought about looking for either a long stay hotel that we can make arrangements with or finding someone who rents out their apartment or home for vacations and seeing if we cannot negotiate a deal for our five month stay. I figured this could also be easier since we are arriving in a slower tourist season in a relatively less traveled town. Also one last question I had in regards to the finance information. I can have a letter drafted by my bank to verify funds within my account, but will they also accept offers of purchase for my car (This will be from Carmax garauntees the offer for 7 days), as well as award letters for student loans and scholarships my wife has received since we will be living in the same residence? Thanks again for all the help and I look forward to being able to help out people in the same situation I am in once I arrive in France!
 

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For renting, I found this - don't know if it's of interest, but it's available as at 01 Jan. & 20 mins from the Fac. You'll undoubtedly find it terribly small compared to what you're used to ....

Charmant studio à louer. Amiens - 80000 - Location Meublée Amiens - 80000 avec Vivastreet

NB - try to get the rent from 02 Jan (or later) - that way you'll avoid any liability for Taxe d'Habitation.

Have a look here too:
http://www.avendrealouer.fr/annonces-immobilieres/location/appartement/amiens+10000074/avec-meuble

h
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
hils, thanks for sharing these helpful link! This gives me more websites to look for property on. We fully expect to be downsizing in apartment size, so that will not be coming as much of a surprise. A good point you brought up that I have not looked into is the taxes on things like liability for Taxe d'Habitation. If neither of us are still working will we still be liable to pay things like this tax? I understand paying sales tax or taxes on bus and train tickets, but I had not thought of things like what you have mentioned.
 

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I don't think they'll want to see offer letters for your car, though the scholarship awards letters should serve as "proof" of financial resources. Anything from your bank should be on bank letterhead - and if you can get your bank to print off your bank statements on their "official" bank paper, that would be better than just printing off your bank balances from the online statements yourself. If you can get the bank to "validate" (if only with a stamp and signature) your own printouts from your online access, that would be better than a simple printout.

If you're headed to an area with seasonal rentals, that would actually be ideal for your 5 month stay. Just make sure any place you rent has the necessary facilities for the off season, particularly heat, even if you're in the south. The last couple of winters have been brutal in the south of France.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Taxe d'Habitation is levied upon the person/people in residence in any property as at 01 January of any given year. The bill is calculated in September/October-ish based on the tax declaration of June-ish for the previous year's worldwide income.

However, since you're moving around, and maybe won't be doing a tax declaration, it would simplify things immensely if you don't take up residence formally until after the 1st Jan. The downside of that, of course, is that landlords really really want someone in their property as at 01.01. otherwise they are liable for the TdH, personally. So you might have a bit of trouble; maybe if you could go into an hotel or something until the beginning Feb., it might be easier - not a guarantee, just a suggestion.

All of that said, it depends upon how the landlord is declaring the property - if it really is normally a seasonal let, then the landlord is and will be liable for TdH. We ran foul of this when my daughter rented furnished a personal property which wasn't normally let, and ended up with the liability for TdH, even tho' she was there only for the month of January (but the landlord was a complete toe-rag!).

Just beware is all I'm saying, and throw the question into any renting agreement.

h
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you both! Again this is invaluable information. From this information I have sent an e-mail to the consulate in Houston to verify everything, but they have yet to respond. I will probably call if I do not hear anything by early next week. Bev, I totally know what you mean about the winters being brutal! We went to Paris for a few weeks for our honeymoon earlier this year in April and there were days that the highs only hit 39 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, I will make sure everything is printed on bank letterhead, I have a really great relationship with my branch manager so this shouldn't be an issue. Another document I thought about providing was available credit lines on credit cards. I am sure the government does't want you to fund everything on a CC, but they might like to see if I had to use it its there. Any thoughts are appreciated. Also do you foresee any issue with using her student loan and award letters for myself since we are married and will be living in the same residence?
Hils, I will for sure ask about this when talking to any property owner. I did a very brief search for vacation property and that looked like it could be a good opportunity. Thanks for all of the help everyone! We are really excited about our move, but I am just nervous about getting the long stay visa for myself.
 

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Don't bother with the credit lines. The whole issue of credit works rather differently in France and basically your credit is limited to what you can pay back based on your current income level. Since you won't be able to work on a dependent visa, it seems only logical that you would be covered by her student loan and awards.

The French consulates aren't known for responding to e-mail queries. Probably best to try to call (though there, too, they have a tendency to tell you to "read the website").
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks once again Bev, you are a wealth of information and I really appreciate you sharing it. Well It sounds like I am getting the correct paperwork in a row. I am going to try and call the consulate on Monday morning. I am hoping to get some answers, even if I just get one question answered I will continue to call them for a few days till I get as much "exact" details that I can.
 

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Just an additional tiny word of caution to what you're planning, and adding to Bev's comments:

be wary of what you hear on the phone; it's rarely gospel - consider it "best guidance" - and in the end it will boil down to the fonctionnaire's interpretations and whims on the day .....
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Just an additional tiny word of caution to what you're planning, and adding to Bev's comments:

be wary of what you hear on the phone; it's rarely gospel - consider it "best guidance" - and in the end it will boil down to the fonctionnaire's interpretations and whims on the day .....
Understood, I figured the phone call was to verify what I understood as acceptable documents, of course this can always change it sounds that the french consulates are allowed to have plenty of room to change things. My goal is to go to my interview with all of the necessary documents listed on the website with as close to perfect representation that it states on the website and hope that it goes well. We have contacted the school she will be studying at and they have partnerships with local apartments to rent to students so we will have a lease setup and I will have medical insurance and everything already covered. Worse case scenario is I don't get the visa and I just go for 90 days, but it seems like the information you guys have given me and reading older posts that have gone through the process I should be fine. After all I am only trying to get one for 151 days.

Thanks again for everyones help. If I get any more questions I will be sure to ask, and once I have gone down to the consulate I will keep everyone posted on how the process went and if I got the Visa. After that I look forward to helping the next person to go through the process!
 
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