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My wife, who is Russian is just about to be issued a long stay visa with a view to converting this to residency when we retire to France. This was going to be at the end of this month (but bear with me)

The consulate here wanted to see her ticket to France so that they could date the visa properly. The ticket is for the 30th May.

So....now I may have an offer of another job here in Dubai which would keep us here a few months longer.

Two questions:
Can she enter/leave France on the long stay French visa now just for a holiday (and maybe several more times) and then, say in 6 months come in and start the residency process? Or is the long stay visa a one shot entry deal. (I should add that we haven't actually seen the visa yet). So, effectively is a long stay French visa the same as a multi entry 10 year Shengen visa which she has now but we assume will be cancelled on the issue of her French LS visa. How long is a French long stay visa valid for before being converted to residency?

Once the residency process has started, roughly how long does it take and can she leave France during this period?

OK, that was several questions. Sorry!

Would appreciate a prompt input, as if we are going to stay, I have to cancel movers, beg the landlord to let us stay....and so on.
 

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OK, first of all, there isn't really a "process" for residency in France. Normally, you get a long-stay visa and then (given that she is married to an EU national who is "established" in France) simply applies for a residency permit (carte de séjour) as the spouse of an EU national. Technically speaking, she shouldn't even need a long-stay visa to enter France as the spouse of an EU national - a short stay (Schengen) visa will do the trick. However, it appears that some consulates haven't "gotten the memo" on this one. Details here: Citoyen européen ou suisse : installer sa famille proche en France - Service-public.fr

She is supposed to apply for the carte de séjour within her first two months in France. So that should be just fine, no matter what happens. Actually getting the card should take only a couple of weeks at most once you give them all the documents they are asking for (proof of marriage, proof of your statut, proof of health insurance for yourself and her, etc.).

The carte de séjour should be valid for one year the first time out. If she's not around to renew it next year (like, if you've moved to Dubai), then it lapses. When you decide to move back to France, you basically start over again - though I think the consulate in Dubai understands that she only needs a short-stay visa (i.e. a Schengen visa). She applies for a new carte de séjour as the spouse of an EU national "exercising his EU rights" (this time you'll show them evidence of whatever pension you are receiving) and she's back in the country again. (Unless, of course, they have changed the laws in the meantime - or the UK has opted out of the EU or something like that.)
Cheers,
Bev
 
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