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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

We are an American retired couple coming to live in France this year. We have our Visa application and all required documentation completed but not yet submitted. I am hesitating on the application form that asks for 6-12 months or more than 12 months.

Is it more difficult to obtain a long stay visa for more than 12 months as opposed to one that is only for a 6-12 month duration?

We may decide we want to stay longer than one year and would prefer to not have to return to the States to reapply, but then we don't want to be rejected for a long term visa if it is more difficult to obtain one that is longer than 12 months.

I have searched the consulate page for an answer but can't find anything that addresses this. Thank you in advance for your wisdom and advice.

Colleen
 

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The process and requirements are pretty much less the same. I would just go for the over one year option. It allows you far more flexibility, though it also entails more requirements once you arrive in France, namely registering and then meeting with the OFII. However, if you really intend to stay in France, then that is part of the process you will have to go through at some point anyway.
 
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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks so much for the reply. That makes sense. We don't mind doing more once we are there, we just wanted to be sure there wasn't some impossible threshold for over one year stays. I feel better now :)

We really appreciate this forum and its members and hope we can contribute with answers instead of questions after a little time passes and we learn the ropes.
 

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I am hesitating on the application form that asks for 6-12 months or more than 12 months...
When my wife and I first came here, we accidentally checked the wrong box. We wanted to move here somewhat permanently, but we checked a "12 Months" box instead of "More than 12 Months."

When we realized what had happened we were a bit miffed because it meant we had to go back to the U.S. after a year to get the proper visa. In retrospect, however, that mistake was about the best thing that could have happened.

We live in Paris, and it turns out that getting a Parisian landlord to rent an unfurnished apartment to a foreigner is incredibly difficult. The standard options are to either put up a year's rent in a non-interest bearing "escrow" account, or get a financially solvent French citizen to sign a guarantee for the same amount. (The reasons why are the topic for another thread.)

It turns out also that it's only slightly less difficult to get a French bank account, which is pretty critical.

And then there are were few other odds and ends that were not quite what we were expecting.

If we had arrived with the right visa and been faced with all of that, we would have made some bad decisions about where to live, shipping furniture over, etc.

What that first year did was give us an opportunity to get oriented, develop a support network, and put together a little bit of administrative infrastructure. And so even though it was a pain t return to the U.S. after a year and get the right kind of visa, once we had it we also had a pretty thorough understanding of what all the other issues were we were going to have to deal with, and we were ready.

And to put this in a little bit of context, we had lived overseas twice before, so it wasn't as if we were naive retirees venturing out into this expat life with a comic book knowledge of how it all works. We had done it all before: bought an apartment, shipped furniture, done the residency thing, etc. But we were just not prepared for what someone once called "the delightful ambiguity" of the French.

So...just something to consider. It is no harder to get the visa you'll eventually want than it is to get a shorter one. But there most definitely might be an advantage to holding off until you've been here and had a chance to get yourselves thoroughly attuned to the situation.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It is so helpful to hear of your experience. It has been about 25 years since we lived in France, but you are right there are always surprises and the unexpected. Thanks for sharing what you learned.
 

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Following up on rwjones experience, I might note that it's probably a good idea NOT to jump into buying a property on arrival. It really does take some time to learn the ropes and to get a sense for where you might ultimately want to live - whether you're talking area, town or neighborhood within a town.

The issues of renting and of setting up a bank account are pretty much the same no matter what visa you come over on. (Then again, I've heard similar stories from foreigners looking to settle in some parts of the US. In some areas it can be next to impossible to rent if you don't have a well established credit history in the US.)
 

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To try and sum all of this together, I'd say it is in the best interest of getting your visa to have a solid plan for the first several months, or longer if you can, and, demonstrable means of supporting that plan. I am not saying you need to actually book something in advance, though that would certainly not be a bad thing either. But, at least have a well thought out plan for where you will stay when you arrive, what types of long term housing you want, how you will look for that, etc.

Regardless of what areas in France attract you, there are probably several comments on this forum that may help you with your plans. Also, don't be afraid to ask questions, though it already appears you are not suffering from that malady. And, should you request more advice, be sure to have a thick skin. When you ask others to help, you need to be prepared for whatever they offer, and it won't always be what you want to hear.

Anyway, I am a bit jealous... Sometimes I think the planning for a great adventure is the best part.
 
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My husband and I applied for our long stay 1 year+ visa last October. We kind of did a hybrid-we came to France first and lived in Montpellier for 3 months and did the Schengen shuffle for a few years, moving every 90 days in and out of the Schengen countries. It was really fun but time to create a base. We love Montpellier and in that 3 months we found an apartment for our return. We then went back to the US to apply for the long stay visa. As others have said-if you want to have the option of renewing here in France-check the one year + book.
Which ever way you choose will be perfect.
 
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