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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Bonjour tout le monde! I'm new to this forum thing but it seems a great way to connect with people who may have advice for me about moving to France. I am a 37 year old kiwi-australian (dual citizen) whose partner is French. From the research I have done (mainly on the French Embassy in Australia website) it seems I can not work in France legally (and I would certainly not want to do so illegally). It seems my best option for spending longer than 3 months on a tourist visa is to apply for a long stay visa without work. Does anyone have experience with applying in Australia for said visas for France so my partner and I can live together there? How much money am I likely to need to have saved to apply for, and have a good chance of being successful in obtaining, a one year long stay visa bearing in mind that although I have accommodation and financial assistance I am not able to work? We prefer not to marry at this stage as we suspect that marriage may be viewed a little more suspiciously by French authorities as a union of convenience and the visa application process to marry a French citizen seems more complicated than simply applying to live there for an extended period. Also and finally, does anyone know of any lawyers in Australia (preferably Melbourne) who specialise in providing accurate but not-too-costly advice for Australians moving to France? Any leads for further research or advice would be hugely appreciated!
Health and happiness,
Charlotte
 

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Hi Charlotte and welcome to the forum.

Your best source for specific advice on visas (long-stay or other) is the website of the French consulate in Australia. However, you'll find that the information on long-stay non-working visas is a little sketchy - deliberately so. In essence, the long-stay non-working visas are intended for retirees, preferably those with a comfortable pension.

The French authorities are suspicious of most applications for long-stay non-working visas, because they believe that during a long "tourist" stay you will inevitably be tempted to work under the table to support yourself. They also tend to discount promises by "partners" to support you, given the rate at which these arrangements tend to dissolve over time. I believe they still ask you for a "reason" for your visa request - and unfortunately, saying that you want to live with your partner probably isn't going to cut it. (OTOH, a research project or pilgrimage to all the Catholic shrines in the country on foot might get you a long-stay visa if it sounds plausible enough.)

I would also advise you to save your money on an attorney. I can't prove it, but I strongly suspect that coming through on a first attempt for a long stay visa with an attorney could really put them off. When I had my immigration problems here in France, my attorney was late (as were other attorneys) to the court appearance I had to make and when I saw how the judges treated the other folks who were pleading for more time "until their attorney arrived" I decided to just forget about waiting for mine and not mention I had engaged an attorney. Turned out it was the right move.

Depending on how long you've known your partner, you may have a better chance getting a visa "with a view to marriage with a French national" - though if that's not in your plans, then it's not an option.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Charlotte and welcome to the forum.

Your best source for specific advice on visas (long-stay or other) is the website of the French consulate in Australia. However, you'll find that the information on long-stay non-working visas is a little sketchy - deliberately so. In essence, the long-stay non-working visas are intended for retirees, preferably those with a comfortable pension.

The French authorities are suspicious of most applications for long-stay non-working visas, because they believe that during a long "tourist" stay you will inevitably be tempted to work under the table to support yourself. They also tend to discount promises by "partners" to support you, given the rate at which these arrangements tend to dissolve over time. I believe they still ask you for a "reason" for your visa request - and unfortunately, saying that you want to live with your partner probably isn't going to cut it. (OTOH, a research project or pilgrimage to all the Catholic shrines in the country on foot might get you a long-stay visa if it sounds plausible enough.)

I would also advise you to save your money on an attorney. I can't prove it, but I strongly suspect that coming through on a first attempt for a long stay visa with an attorney could really put them off. When I had my immigration problems here in France, my attorney was late (as were other attorneys) to the court appearance I had to make and when I saw how the judges treated the other folks who were pleading for more time "until their attorney arrived" I decided to just forget about waiting for mine and not mention I had engaged an attorney. Turned out it was the right move.

Depending on how long you've known your partner, you may have a better chance getting a visa "with a view to marriage with a French national" - though if that's not in your plans, then it's not an option.
Cheers,
Bev
Awesome Bev. Thank you very much for so willingly sharing your advice and experiences. You have definitely given me food for thought especially on the lawyer angle and the intent of the long stay without work visa. As I'm sure you are fully aware any little hints that make one a little more savvy about the whole visa process are extremely valuable! Do you mind me asking what is your original nationality? Are the rules pretty much the same for all "western" English speaking countries regarding immigration to France? The French Embassy in Australia website seems much clearer now than it was even a year ago when I started investigating the process but as I have come to understand the French system is not always as clear as ours is in Australia. But I love the French culture and way of doing things so am willing to accept it and do my best with research and perseverance to find a solution that works for us. It will be a challenge and I guess at times frustrating but I am convinced it will be worth it!
Thanks so much again Bev.
Kind regards,
Charlotte.
 

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From other folks I've spoken with, I'd say that the hurdles for Australians are roughly the same as those for Americans these days (yes, I'm originally American).

I actually came to France from Germany in the early days of the Schengen treaty, when the French had yet to work out their procedures, so I got bad advice from the consulate and wound up illegal for 2 years after marrying a French national. This new procedure, however, looks promising if you are interested in getting married. Since you have to apply for the visa before coming to France, they'll have whatever chance they want to hassle you about it before you've paid the airfare and all.

After all was said and done (and we'd accumulated a pile of attestations from friends stating that we had known each other for a few years, etc. etc. and other stuff to "prove" our marriage) it turns out that all my immigration hassles turned on the fact that I had not had my passport stamped on entry to France - because I'd driven in from Germany and there was no longer anyone at the border to stamp the silly thing. They really didn't care how valid our marriage was or wasn't, it was simply a procedural thing I hadn't followed. (But would they simply tell me that? Heck, no.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
From other folks I've spoken with, I'd say that the hurdles for Australians are roughly the same as those for Americans these days (yes, I'm originally American).

I actually came to France from Germany in the early days of the Schengen treaty, when the French had yet to work out their procedures, so I got bad advice from the consulate and wound up illegal for 2 years after marrying a French national. This new procedure, however, looks promising if you are interested in getting married. Since you have to apply for the visa before coming to France, they'll have whatever chance they want to hassle you about it before you've paid the airfare and all.

After all was said and done (and we'd accumulated a pile of attestations from friends stating that we had known each other for a few years, etc. etc. and other stuff to "prove" our marriage) it turns out that all my immigration hassles turned on the fact that I had not had my passport stamped on entry to France - because I'd driven in from Germany and there was no longer anyone at the border to stamp the silly thing. They really didn't care how valid our marriage was or wasn't, it was simply a procedural thing I hadn't followed. (But would they simply tell me that? Heck, no.)
Cheers,
Bev
Hi Bev,

Once again thanks so much for all your contributions to the forum. I have been following the forum and it is certainly a very helpful medium. Let me know when you write that book because I would love a copy!

Since I last wrote here my beautiful French boyfriend has been to visit me in Australia, after which we have decided to make plans to marry in France in the European summer. The consulate website makes it all sound so simple but I am sure it's not as "facile" as it seems. It suggests that I should apply for a "Visa to marry a French citizen in France" with the intent of settling there after the wedding. I can comply easily with all the documentation that is requested but it is the things that aren't requested that I am thinking more about - reading between the lines. My main thoughts are about finances and language. I will return to France with enough money for at least 6 months and my future husband is prepared and has the ability to support me on his salary until I can become more able in French and perhaps find some work (which I estimate is at least a year down the track from when we marry). Are the authorities likely to refuse my visa application on financial or language grounds? Is it really as easy as it seems to settle in France once I become his wife? Do I need to have evidence of a RETURN airline ticket at the application interview even if I am hoping not to return to Australia in at least the short to medium term?

Finally - it doesn't seem so (certainly not financially for me!) but is there any advantage to be gained in the eyes of the authorities by marrying in France while on a <90 day visit then returning to Australia and applying to return on a "Long stay visa for foreign spouse of a French citizen"?


Health and happiness,
Charlotte.
 

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Hi Charlotte,
It's really hard to tell just what level of hassle you'll wind up being subjected to. If you plan for the worst, things may just go strictly according to plan and you'll find yourself with a bunch of excess documents. Turn up bright eyed and bushy tailed, expecting everything to go the way it's described on the website and suddenly you're a matter of national security and will have to get all sorts of supplementary documents.

As far as I can tell (I never did get a visa and wound up fighting my way through from the inside before they had all these new rules), they don't really look that closely at the financial data for your husband-to-be. If you've got a decent educational background that indicates you will eventually be able to find a job and a little bit of savings to keep you off the welfare for the time up until the marriage, you're probably ok for the visa.

It will probably help if you start taking some French lessons now. It shows good faith and you can at least start out your interview with "Bonjour" and a little rehearsed sentence to say that you've only just started learning French so please bear with, or something to that effect. Things normally go much better if you start out in French and let them suggest reverting to English.

I don't think you'll really have any advantage by marrying on a short-term visitor visa and then going back home. The requirements for a foreigner to get married in France are kind of weird, and you may run into problems simply getting the various documents you'll need for the marriage if you're not resident in France. Probably not a bad idea to have your fiancé get the list of requirements for a foreigner before your interview. Have that in your "extra documents not asked for" file so that if it comes up in the conversation, you can show them that you're already working on the list. It's little stuff like that that makes the whole process go more smoothly than expected.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks again for your kind help Bev! The picture is slowly come together. I'm starting early and will make a plan and a timeline for when documents are needed. I'll generally try to be very organised without appearing too bright eyed and bushy tailed. The last think I want to be is a matter of French national security! :)

What do you think about the question of air tickets? Will a one way ticket be ok or should I take an open-ended return ticket so it doesn't look like I'm counting my chickens before they've hatched so to speak!

Charlotte.
 

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What do you think about the question of air tickets? Will a one way ticket be ok or should I take an open-ended return ticket so it doesn't look like I'm counting my chickens before they've hatched so to speak!
If they are asking you to show an air ticket, I'd get a full fare round trip with an open return. That way, at least you can cash in the return part after you get married. I've never heard of them doing it, but legally if you buy a round trip ticket for one of those cheap fares and then just don't use the return leg, the airline can come back at you for the difference between the cheap round-trip fare and the (much more expensive) one-way ticket.

However, on some French consulate websites they plainly state NOT to make any flight reservations until after you have your visa. I think that's an example of "the French contradiction." :rolleyes: In any event, if you bring anything over and above the list of what they asked you to bring, keep it in a separate folder from the stuff on the list and don't offer up anything unless and until they ask for it.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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