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Discussion Starter #1
We are a family of six (four kids all under 12) that would like to relocate and live in France for a year and travel a bit from there to countries in the region. We currently live in Asia although we are Americans (and one Malaysian). The kids would leave school for the year and we'd homeschool them. After the year we would return to Asia and our "regular life".

I've done alot of reading about long stay visas on this forum and others and wanted to ask some questions specific to our situation.

The Long Stay Visa form has a category for Private Stay/Visitor which is what I'd assume our family would fall under.

In terms of the requirements, we think we can meet all or most of them: (a) proof of funds (we have this and have been saving for years for this trip), (b) insurance (we have had a global insurance policy for years although I'm concerned because it is a calendar year policy and we want to get a visa running from March-March, so technically the policy won't cover the last three months although we renew it annually),(c) a letter stating our purpose for the visa (to live and experience France for a year. I'm a self-employed consultant and can leave my work for a year for this), (d) a statement that we won't work there (that is easy enough), etc.

The key one I see as an issue is proof of rental for one year. We intend to move around a bit, so renting one place for a year is not practical. How have others handled this?

Does anyone have experience trying to get a long stay visitor visa in a similar situation. We are going to the Embassy in two weeks to submit papers, but haven't had very much help from them via email or phone and I have no idea what to expect. When we first contacted them and said we wanted to get a visa to live and travel in France for a year, the lady seemed to act like that didn't exist for more than 90 days (the Schengan Visa), but I can clearly see that people get long stay visas for similar purposes on this and other forums.

I have more questions but first wanted to reach out for thoughts.

Thanks
 

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Basically, the long-stay visas are considered "residence" visas, which means that you're coming to live in France for a long stay. They aren't really set up to handle "wanderers" - and it may depend a bit on which consulate you're going through as to how to best resolve this one.

The simplest plan would be to make one area your base camp, and set up a "residence" there for the duration of your stay. Most consulates will allow you to offer proof that you have an initial place to stay (say, a holiday rental) for the first month or so while you look for more permanent lodging in the area.

But what you are running into here is the way France is organized. As a foreigner on a long-stay visa, you are expected to notify the prefecture each time you change residence. And, if you move to another departement (i.e. prefecture), they have to shift your files to your new place of residence. Your residence is supposed to be the place they can reach you - by mail or phone - should the need arise. If possible, you should try to maintain a "base camp" from which you can do your travels, and where you maintain contact just in case someone is trying to reach you.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Bev! Extremely helpful. Understood on the concept of this being a "residence visa" that helps alot. We have lived overseas for 20 years and so have gotten our share of residence visas in various countries (outside of Europe, though), and that helped put it into perspective.

Given that, a few more questions. On another of your other posts, in regards to obtaining a long-term visa, you noted the important of an acceptable rationale for applying for a resident visa and needing to present one's interest in the correct manner.

Our family's specific in interest in applying for a long-term visa is to experience France and it's culture, as a change in cultural experience from Asia where we have lived for many years, to have the kids informally learn some French, and to spend time near friends in France. We do not need or want to work, can support ourselves financially and can demonstrate sufficient financial resources. At the end of the year, we'd return to our regular lives and school in Asia.

As noted, we have friends that have lived in France for many years, and although they are not French citizens they have long term residence visas. Our intention is to base ourselves close to them and spend much of our time in that area. Then for periods we'll travel to other parts of France and occasionally into neighboring countries for short trips.

Would this rationale be acceptable from a visa official's perspective?

Is there anything we should be doing in regards to living close to our friends, such as include their name and address in our application, or even ask for a "letter of invitation" to include with the application? Or is that necessary?

In regards to living arrangements, is it acceptable to provide proof of initial accommodations, such as a Hotel booking, and note that we will be arranging more permanent living accommodations when there. It isn't very practical for a family of six to rent an apartment for a year remotely, or before we know that we have been granted visas to live there. I'm assuming that demonstrating financial resources to rent a place for a year might be sufficient in lieu of actually renting it before we get there, as long as we have hotel booking for several weeks while we look?

Finally, on the issue of insurance, we have family insurance that renews every calendar year. Given it currently runs from Jan 1, 2014 - Dec. 31, 2014 and we will be asking for a visa from March 1, 2014 - March 1, 2015 will that be a problem? I've asked the insurance company about prepaying for 2015, but since premiums go up slightly each year, they don't accept pre-payment a year out. Again, would proof of financial resources to pay the next years premium be sufficient? Or should be buying additional insurance from somewhere else?

Really appreciate any and all thoughts!
 

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It sounds like your rationale for coming to France should fly - however each consulate has its own take on these things. Hard to say for sure if any particular consulate will react in a particular way.

Unless you're planning on staying with your friends, I wouldn't bother with an "invitation" like that. Again, the initial indication of where you're staying (i.e. a hotel or holiday place) should do - but some consulates are more "sticky" about this than others.

The insurance shouldn't be a problem. Show that you have regular coverage that will meet the requirements and that you've had this particular policy for a while and it should fly.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I've come across another issue/question with regards to the Long Stay Visitor visa application and required documents.

The french embassy site here has everything in both Chinese and English. In English, there is a vague reference to "To accompany the minor child: enrollment in France " which I had no idea what it meant. In Chinese, though, it means "proof of enrollment in French school".

I've gone to other French Embassy sites like the Washington DC site and they don't mention this requirement.

We plan to homeschool our four children to some extent for the year we are in France (more in European history, art, etc), but they are also a year young for their grades so our intention regardless was to let them sit out a year, and then upon their return to school in Asia they will be the same age as everyone else. The oldest is in 8th grade now and the youngest in 1st.

Does anyone know if we MUST have them enrolled in school in France in order to get a Long Stay Visa?:usa2:
 

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I haven't heard of it being a requirement for a visa before, however the French laws on schooling tend to be pretty strict, and if you home school, you are supposed to register that intention with the local academy (i.e. school district). Since you're only going to be staying a year, I don't think they'll insist that you stick to the French curriculum, but you should indicate your intention to home school during the time you are in France.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Happy to report we were granted our one year visas...will be leaving for France in a couple weeks with the kids! I have to say that as long as one follows the requirements asked for, the process was pretty straight-forward. Very pleased with the process and obviously the outcome.
 
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