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My fiancée and I are considering our options to marry once her divorce is finalized. We are discussing the possibilities of marrying in France or the USA but our intent is to live in France. I will need to obtain a Carte de Sejour, an approval to work, obtain health insurance and so on. The question is that we live in a smaller sized Ville and generally speaking, there is a few weeks wait to marry. The Livret de Famille is given within a day or two of the wedding (per the Mayor’s Office). This is a good thing as if I must return to the USA for a Spousal Visa / Sejour, the process could be about two weeks before it is issued and I can fully begin my new life here in France.

If we marry in the USA, does the French mayor of the Ville we reside in still issue the Livret de Famille or must it be obtained from another source as this Mayor did not perform the actual wedding? I would hate to make a trip to the USA to marry (and see family) then need to return to the USA again for the interview for the Visa / Sejour and then wait for it to be issued.

As always, thanks very much for your fantastic help!
 

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If you get married in the US, the consulate organises for the marriage to be 'registered' - they communicate with the French officials who will eventually send you a French marriage certificate and your Livret de Famille (the French spouse's civil status will be updated in the Mairie of their birthplace). The disadvantage here is that the Livret de Famille can take between 1 and 6 months to arrive (we waited 3 months for ours, I think it depends how busy the Mairie is).

It also seems that to apply for this registration, people who marry in the US have to get the official marriage certificate apostiled (which apartently is difficult sometimes?). So if you get married in the US, you have to wait for the Livret and still apply for the visa in the US.

Depending on what visa you are on now (if it's a long stay visa I think), you may even be able to change your status if you get married in France (not having to re-apply for a visa). Otherwise you can get through the paperwork of a French marriage and make a trip back to the US, livret de famille in hand, to apply for the visa.
 

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If you don't already have a carte de séjour, I'm betting that you're in France now on a short-stay (or "Schengen") visa. The other option is if you are here on a "visitor" visa for one year and in that case, you can get your status changed after you and your (by then) spouse have lived together for at least six months. (Weird rule, I know, but that's how things stand at the moment.)

If you're on a short-stay visa, your best option might be to marry in France and then take the livret de famille back to the US to apply for your spouse visa. Unless you've done something really awful (and constitute a threat to national security or refuse to learn French) they can't refuse you a spouse visa if your paperwork is all in order and the process of getting the visa should take a couple of days to maybe a week or so. (Getting the appointment at the Consulate may take a bit of time, but normally you can make you appointment online.)

Getting married in the US is going to involve two rounds of delays in the visa process - the first is getting the US marriage license apostilled (basically, certified by the state in which you were married). And then, applying for the livret de famille through the consulate, which takes as long as it takes because the fact of the marriage has to be registered on the birth record of the French spouse, and some mairies are prompter than others in updating their birth records.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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