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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,
This forum has been very useful. I had a few questions about the long term visa.
First, I am a US citizen and self employed . I am retired-though young in my thrities and mainly now work on my investments -stocks and all sorts of trading .
I was wondering about moving to France. I have travelled around a lot and while I love the US, wan't to experience something different and not just travel and come back.

1) I was thinking of seeking the long term visa. Apparantely they give a 12 month visa. per the consulate website in my area,
"From the 1st of June 2009, long stay visitor visa holders will be allowed to reside in France for up to 12 months according to the validity of their visa and purpose of stay. They will no longer be required to obtain a residence permit ("carte de séjour") from the French local authorities ("Préfecture") as long as their visa is valid.

However, long stay visa holders will have to register to the French Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII) during the first three months of their stay in France. For further information, please check the residence permit page. "

I did look over the visa requirements in the website and seem to be ok-but anything else any of you can add?

2) Is this 12 month visa only once or can it be extended at the end of another 12 months?

3) I do have some assets, but according to the new rules, for expats, we will not be subject to wealth tax outside of France for five years?

4) Also I am of Asian descent and rather dark skinned-would that be an issue-I am thinking more south of France, maybe Nice -the Provence area. I live in a rather liberal area in the US and honestly haven't really met any racism . But have encountered it when I had to stay for a few months in Tennesse. So I think within the country there maybe a difference-how is that area? (I was actually thinking of Spain, but there seems to a bit of a different attitude?)

5) I think I wan't to stay a few years and if I like it , maybe reside long term-would that be a possibility?

Thanks!!!
 

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Hi and welcome to the forum.

1. I think you've kind of mis-read the consulate website here. There isn't really a 12 month visa as such. Anything over 90 days is considered a long-stay visa. Basically, a visa is a document that allows you to enter the country. After you have entered the country, you normally need to apply for a "titre de séjour" (a residence permit). They have recently changed the rules so that certain categories of long-stay residents no longer need to apply for a residence permit during their first year in the country. They do, however, need to have their visas validated at the OFII. After their first year of residence, they apply for a carte de séjour like the old days.

When applying for a visa for France, it's very important how you fill out the question asking you your reason for wanting to live in France. How long you can stay and whether or not your titre de séjour is renewable or not depends on what reason you give and your ability to document your reason. They are particularly concerned about the possibility that you'll be tempted to work "under the table" during your stay in France, thus depriving a French national of a job. It's the main assumption you have to overcome with your application.

2. The renewability of your carte de séjour (or your eligibility for a carte de séjour at the end of your first year in France) depends entirely on your reason for being in France. If you want to change your reason, chances are you'll be expected to return home and re-apply for a new visa.

3. To be subject to wealth tax, you have to have assets worth more than 750,000 euros (or so - the amount changes each year). There is an exemption for new arrivals for the first 5 years, but I'm not sure of the details. During this time, however, you would still be subject to French income tax on your worldwide income.

4. Racism in France is a rather different issue than in the US. If you speak good to excellent French, you shouldn't have any problem. It isn't so much the color of your skin as much as how well "integrated" you appear to be. (If you're female and wear a head scarf or a full veil - burqa or niqab - chances are you'll have problems.)

5. You need to come up with a verifiable reason for wanting to spend a few years in France. The most dependable reason is having a job offer and an employer to sponsor you. As a "young retiree" you may well have problems convincing the consulate that you won't ultimately be tempted to work illegally while you're there unless you have some project or other explanation for what you'll be doing in France.

Normally your titre de séjour is renewable as long as you can continue to show evidence that your original reason for coming to France is still valid. But the first big hurdle is getting the visa to enter France in the first place.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thanks!!

Hmm I guess looking at the consulate, I thought it was a relatively easy process! The reason-well I was lucky enough to work for a then start up way back in its infancy and so got a ton of stock options as I progressed up. I then sold some and bought a ranch before the boom and then sold it, as it became quite urban and surrounded by sub divisons in a few years But made quite a bit on both and so now am comfortably retired. I just have a lot of investments that I enjoy managing. The reason is I am in my thirties and just bored! In this environment, I don't wan't to start a business -as long as I can keep what I have and grow it a bit, I should be fine.

I travelled a lot and France and Spain intrigued me. First of all, I don't know the language at all, so would have to learn the whole language, which might take a few years and I really liked the culture. Quite different from the US. I appear stuck ina rut right now, so thought this might be a new challenge and experience. Hmm not sure if I can put that in the reason?

Yes the wealth tax would be a major issue for me. That is why I looked at Spain , as they abolished it. But keep hearing it might be a bit more difficult for me especially in this economy. But apparantely, in France for expats, for the first five years, you don't have to pay wealth tax on assets outside of France? Income tax and the rest is fine, I pay here anyways.

On the racism, I am male and not a Muslim . I am as westernised as they come. I have lived all my life in the liberal areas of the east coast and west coast and so never really even thought of the colour of my skin. But I had to work in TN for a few months and work was fine, but when I was walking in the streets, I got yelled at a few times to go back to where I came from. Which was just odd for me as I thought we are past that-I mean I am from the US, where am I going to go to? That sort of thing is what I was worried about -it certainly doesn't make you feel very good and I just heard that Spain does have a few issues with that right now?

I really won't need to work, I don't work right now either so will that help?


Thanks though!
 

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On the racism, I am male and not a Muslim . I am as westernised as they come. I have lived all my life in the liberal areas of the east coast and west coast and so never really even thought of the colour of my skin. But I had to work in TN for a few months and work was fine, but when I was walking in the streets, I got yelled at a few times to go back to where I came from. Which was just odd for me as I thought we are past that-I mean I am from the US, where am I going to go to? That sort of thing is what I was worried about -it certainly doesn't make you feel very good and I just heard that Spain does have a few issues with that right now?
Generally, your likely experience in France is more akin to the liberal areas of US than deep in Tennessee. In all parts of France, muticulturism is a norm, people are used to seeing people from different ethnic backgrounds and shouldn't cause any problems for you. Provided you avoid certain social housing areas, often on the outskirts of a city, where there's latent resentment against foreigners taking away jobs and imposing alien culture (e.g. the Muslim headscarf issue) - this isn't hard as there is no reason for you to go there. Provided you speak some French, and conduct yourself with politeness (the French are still a lot more formal than Americans, such as in greetings, modes of address and shaking hands), then I can't see you having any troubles. This goes for most parts of Europe as well. As for Spain, your background is even less of an issue, unlike what you may have heard. European cities are really cosmopolitan, with a large number of long-term resident and visiting foreigners.
 

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In some ways, not having to work for a living may count against you in the visa application process. They are seriously suspicious of working age people who are living off investments. It may have something to do with the French attitude toward money, which is completely different from the attitude in the US.

The sorts of reasons they seem to be looking for are things like - doing research for a book or an investment project, a professor on sabbatical who wants to soak up the culture of France (and can support himself and his family on his sabbatical salary), and lately, if you can cook up a project for this skills and talent visa (basically a project that would benefit France in some way) you' d probably be a shoo-in. For retired people, they' re looking for a source of reliable income in the form of a pension or annuity, so the US concept of IRAs and 401Ks can sometimes throw them off.

The advantage of having a project of some sort is that it defines the period of time you are planning on staying and they (theoretically) don' t have to worry about your sticking around to become a burden on French society should the investment market tank again.

Your chances for a visa improve markedly if you speak passable French at least. Being able to conduct your consulate interview all in French counts big time in your favor.

Sounds like what you ran into in Tennessee is some of the general resentment against immigrants in the US. There' s a little bit of that in France (and in most of Europe these days) but people aren' t nearly as overt about it if that' s the way they feel. In many ways, the French are far more courteous - in a formal sense - than the Americans.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
As for Spain, your background is even less of an issue, unlike what you may have heard. European cities are really cosmopolitan, with a large number of long-term resident and visiting foreigners.
Interesting, that is what I felt when I visited Barcelona a couple of times. I loved it. But I have visited a lot of places from Burma to Venezuela, so I know visiting is different from livng there. But my friend who used to work with me retired there with his family and he keeps telling me of skinheads and all kinds of problems. Hmm he never has a good word to say of Spain-he put a lot of his money in real estate and lost a chunk so could be just frustration talking. Never thought of that!

Thanks for the replies all!
 

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While it may not meet your long term desires, you could look into studying French in France for a year and get a student visa. (Although I'm not certain of the age requirements.) I do know this has been a way for some people to get more than 90 days there.
 
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