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Discussion Starter #1
I am a US citizen would like to move to France for 1 year (without working for a French company).
I can provide proof of financial means during the 1 year period.
I am of "working age" and have a Masters degree.
I would like to move to France with my girlfriend who is NOT French but is an EU citizen and will be seeking work in France.

What are the odds of getting this type of visa? I am thinking we can go (I would be on a 90 day "tourist visa") and she can sign a lease for an appartment and then I could use the lease for the visa application (applying in Spain or UK or similar).
Thanks for any help!
 

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OK, what you want to do isn't entirely impossible, but you probably shouldn't try for it the way you're planning to do so.

The problem is that, if you're over there on a 90 day tourist visa, you can't change visa types without going back to the US. You have to file your visa application for a long-stay visa from the consulate that covers the area in which you are legally resident. After 90 days in France, you won't have residency status in either Spain or the UK (or in any other EU state for that matter). You would need a valid visa in the country from which you are applying - and even then, you'd have to prove your residence there.

To get a long-stay visa without a work permit, you have to convince the French authorities (i.e. the consulate and the department in France that processes the paperwork) that you have some valid reason to be in France without working (researching a book? studying something French? etc.), and of course that you have the means to support yourself without resorting to French public services.

France doesn't usually recognize unmarried or un-PACS'd couples so unless you were thinking of tying the knot, your girlfriend's EU nationality probably won't do you any good.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Re: my girlfriend... I was pretty sure it would not factor into the visa app except for making the whole apartment lease easier and getting it established even before applying for the visa...

I was unaware of the need to apply in your home country. I have applied for visas in other (EU) countries and they simply require you to apply at a foreign consulate. Is this unique to France?

So from what I gather, I still need a good reason to want to be in France. I wouldn't mind enrolling in a 2x per week language course, would that be enough?
 

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Basically, France (and most European countries) don't really want people to stay long term (longer than 90 days) without working or running a business for which they have a permit in France. OK, exceptions are made for millionaires and Arab oil sheiks, but presumptions are people who apply to do what you contemplate are really trying to work illegally or engage in clandestine self-employment. So they make you jump through hoops to demonstrate a legitimate reason to be in France, have medical coverage (as you won't be eligible for French public health service), solid means of support without working (e.g. savings, pensions, investments; working for US employer online will not be allowed), often criminal record clearance and medical certificate showing you are free from drug addiction, mental illness or communicable diseases. And as Bev has said, your application will be processed by some civil servants in France, not by the embassy/consular staff, though you have to apply in the country of nationality or usual residence. It can take months for the visa to come through, and it's by no means certain one will be granted, as they have complete discretion in issuing it or not.
 
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Even if you were married to the non-French EU citizen, it still wouldn't be easy. In such cases the EU citizen has to prove he/she has sufficient means to support you. For a job-seeker that would be very difficult to do.
 

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So from what I gather, I still need a good reason to want to be in France. I wouldn't mind enrolling in a 2x per week language course, would that be enough?
It needs to be full-time study, usually reckoned to be a minimum of 15 hours a week in organised lessons, and you have to show evidence of having paid your initial fees (for the first term or semester, say).
 

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I was unaware of the need to apply in your home country. I have applied for visas in other (EU) countries and they simply require you to apply at a foreign consulate. Is this unique to France?
They have gotten stricter about this in the last couple of years - maybe particularly for France, but AFAIK it's now SOP for most EU countries. I guess they caught on to the old "hop over the border after your 90 days are up" trick.

It may also have to do with Schengen, since border crossings within the Schengen region are kind of a non-event these days.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
I currently have a student visa (EU but not France) that expires soon. As such, it would be difficult to apply in the US.. maybe since I already have a visa I could apply outside the US, not sure.

As for the application itself... it sounds like a 6 month, nonworking visa is easier to obtain(?)... can you "renew" this? As for the "reason of stay" do people often just say "for researching a book" etc? Do you have to prove this somehow?

I presume attempting to form a business or state that you are a independent contract worker / entrepreneur is a huge ordeal, right?
 

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I currently have a student visa (EU but not France) that expires soon. As such, it would be difficult to apply in the US.. maybe since I already have a visa I could apply outside the US, not sure.
I suspect it would depend on your residency status in whatever country you're in (and have the visa for). Students are normally only considered "temporarily" resident and that might not be enough. But you can always ask at the nearest French consulate.

As for the application itself... it sounds like a 6 month, nonworking visa is easier to obtain(?)... can you "renew" this? As for the "reason of stay" do people often just say "for researching a book" etc? Do you have to prove this somehow?
Not sure if the 6 month non-working visa is any "easier" to obtain. It usually comes down to what "reason for coming to France" you give. "Researching a book" does go much more smoothly if you have some publication credits to your name or a book contract or something else that can back up your reason. Just about any reason you give will be subject to some form of documents "proving" your case.

I presume attempting to form a business or state that you are a independent contract worker / entrepreneur is a huge ordeal, right?
"Independent contract worker" would require you to actually establish your business presence in France - which makes it a working visa - as would "forming a business" or "entrepreneur." Chances are for the last two you'd need at least a solid business plan to submit as evidence of what you plan to do - with confirmation of your funding.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I presume attempting to form a business or state that you are a independent contract worker / entrepreneur is a huge ordeal, right?
Yes, you will then be subject to regulations for a business person or enterpreneur (effectively ploughing millions into French economy and creating jobs for locals), or work permit (difficult to obtain as they want to preserve jobs for the French, including contract work).
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you for all your replies, this forum is undoubtably a leading resource for Visas, French or otherwise...
@ Joppa.... I wonder if obtaining a visa for Spain is easier? We've basically narrowed our next home down to Southern France or Spain...

I read over the various consulate requirements for a "Visitor Visa" to France... here are the requirements that I see...

1. Passport, Photos, Proof of Residency etc.
- standard material, check

2. Financial guarantee such as (+2 copies):
. a letter from your bank stating that you have sufficient means of support to live in France, plus your last bank statement or your three last bank statements... blah blah,
- I can prove financial stability for a year in France, check

3. Proof of medical insurance with full coverage valid in France. Letter from the insurance company only
- my insurance company loves me since I never use them except for my monthly payments, so... check

4. A non-criminal record certificate to be obtained at the police station in your city of residence
- last time I simply had to sign a letter saying I was clean and not a criminal, either way, no felonies here... check

5. Deed of your house/apartment in France
- can arrange this ahead of time, either by me signing a lease or my girlfriend... check

Perhaps it's in the Visa app but I see no 'reason of stay'... if it is, and if it's important, I can easily say for a piece of literature, exploring business possibilities in France, taking a part time French class, etc, etc...

I'm really not seeing where I would get denied, but you folks have been through this before and know what often gets denied and what gets accepted so any input would be great.
 

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Perhaps it's in the Visa app but I see no 'reason of stay'... if it is, and if it's important, I can easily say for a piece of literature, exploring business possibilities in France, taking a part time French class, etc, etc...
Question 21 on the visa application form here: http://www.consulfrance-boston.org/IMG/pdf/visalong.pdf

I'm really not seeing where I would get denied, but you folks have been through this before and know what often gets denied and what gets accepted so any input would be great.
From the Consular website for Boston:

>>REMARKS: The Consular services have full authority to appreciate and request more documents than those submitted by the applicant. The latter is hereby informed that submitting the aforementioned documents does not ensure automatic issuance of the visa.<<

Cheers,
Bev
 

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One of the difficulties over applying for a long-stay visitor's visa is that issuance is at the discretion of the authorities in France as well as at the embassy/consulate. They don't have to state a reason for turning down your request, and completing an application and submittimng required documents doesn't guarantee that one will be issued. While one person may have little trouble getting such a visa, another with very similar background may get turned down without an explanation. While some visas have to be issued as it's required under European legislation, long-term visitor's visa isn't one and is given out solely at the whim of the relevant authorities.
As for relocating to Spain, the requirements are broadly similar but you must get relevant info from the Spanish embassy site. Since such visas are outside the scope of EU regulations, each country can impose any conditions they think are appropriate.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Ok I have researched this a little more... here are what I perceive to be my options... please let me know which one I am most likely to succeed with:

1. Long Term Visitor's Visa
I can provide finances for the 12 months x $1800, my only concern is question #21, the reason to stay in France. I can think of many, but I'm wondering what is considered acceptable. Some reasons I've thought of:
- Learning the language and culture (seems too general)
- Researching an online or published travel guide (which actually may not be a bad idea)
- Volunteer... not sure about this one yet. Just thought it could be possible.

2. Student Visa
I want to take some french courses although a long-term language course is a very expensive way to get a visa.

3. Competence and Talent Visa
I have a masters degree in business, bachelors in computer science. Could I state that I will be learning the language and culture to pursue a web project? I have something in mind that I'm considering. Do I need to provide specifics? Would I need to have something prepared ahead of time (such as owning a domain name for the project? (which actually you need a French residential address to obtain a .fr web address) or do I just need to say that I want to develop French ecommerce projects and need to learn the language/culture/business contacts? This seems to be a new type of visa and I really don't know much about it.
 
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Ref Compétences et Talents visa. The French consulate in Washington provides more details. Note that you have to provide a detailed outline of your project in writing, "describing the professional project and specifying its interest for France and for the applicant’s country of origin ".
 

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1. It's hard to tell what will fly on question 21 - and honestly it's one of those trick questions where they assess your "sincerity" with all your other answers. Researching a book might fly - if you have some connections and/or knowledge of the publishing industry that you could "prove" in some manner. Volunteering is dodgy, as there isn't the same volunteer environment in France as in the US - you'd need contacts with some agency to be taken seriously.

2. Yes, this is the expensive approach, but reasonably sure once you're admitted to a school or program.

3. What Frogblogger said. It can't just be that you have some background that "might" be of use to La France - you have to have a project you want to pursue (and that project plan, I suspect, has to be written in French). No one is quite sure what they're looking for here.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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