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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My fiancé and I have been talking about me moving to France.
We plan to do the civil wedding in France and for me to live there permanently.

About me:
*I am a US Citizen by naturalization ( I was born in Dominican Republic).
*I've never been married
*Don't have children
*Don't have a criminal record
*Currently working part-time

About my Fiancé:
*French citizen
*Has a full-time job
*No criminal record
*No children
*Never been married

----

Okay, so!
I've found a lot of information online, all of which is overwhelming, out-dated, and more confusing than helpful.

These are my questions:

How do I proceed!?!?

•Do I need a visa?
-If so, what kind?

Note: I did ask (via email) this question to the local French consulate where I live,
only to get an answer days later, which was not informative.
He said I do not need a visa, and that after the marriage in France, I would have to come back here to the US and apply for a Long Stay visa as the Spouse of a French Citizen.

What do you think of this recommendation? Is it really the best way to go about it?

Why not apply for a long-term visa and presuming I get it, go to France, get married there, and go from there on how to make my stay permanent?
Is it true that if I choose to go this route, that the long-term visa will be changed to a resident card?


•Local Mairie

Alright, aside from the visa issue...
Through my journey I've learned that not all mairies ask for the same documents.
General things they ask for include:

- A valid U.S. passport or a French resident permit
- A birth certificate (less than three months old)
- A certificate of celibacy (less than three months old) which can be done before an American Consular Officer in France
- An affidavit of Law. It is a statement (must be done by an attorney licensed to practice in both France and United States) about U.S. marriage laws, certifying that the American citizen is free to contract marriage in France and will be recognized in the United States
- A medical certificate (less than three months old)
- Proof of domicile (electricity bill, etc.)
- Certificat du notaire (if the parties to the marriage opt for a prenuptial contract)
On the issue of birth certificates:
1. Is my US Naturalization certificate going to be it? or do I need to go to Dominican Republic and pray that they still have my Dominican birth certificate? :/

2. What is meant by a birth certificate that is "not older than 3 months"?
Does it only apply to my fiancée? - I read that French birth certificates contain
information about people's lives such as: previous marriages, children they may have, etc. So would they expect me to have mine (either the US Citizen certificate or the one from my native country) freshly re-issued? Seeing as neither of the two would contain such information.

---

Regarding:

Certificates of celibacy and an affidavit of law...


- Okay so I can get the certificate of celibacy at the US Embassy in Paris (if I understood that correctly).

- The affidavit of law; Would I find said attorney at the US Embassy in Paris?


Medical certificate...

-What is it exactly?

===========

I am unsure what I really need, and also worried that I'll forget something.
The closest French Consulate here is roughly a 4 hour drive (yes that scares me :p )
I wish I could do it all in one trip but at the moment I get the feeling it's going to take a few...

I think I covered all I wanted to talk about... for now anyway.
 

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Actually, yes, what the consulate advised you is an option:
- enter France (you don't need a visa)
- get married within 90 days (since you are only allowed 90 days without a visa)
- go back to the US and apply for a spouse visa (for this you'll need the marriage certificate and Livret de Famille which gets issued when you marry)

With this plan you have to be organised so as to get married within 90 days, having all the papers necessary, ect. But once you're married getting the visa should be a very quick and easy process, which is the upside.

The other option is this:
- enter France on a long stay tourist visa (for this you'll need private health insurance)
- get married and when you apply for your first carte de sejour (residency card) at the end of the year, try and change your status (ie: going from a tourist to a family stay card).
The problem is apparently that some prefectures/mairies aren't aware of all the current rules, but in theory you should be able to do this. A downside with this plan is that you won't be able to work for a year.

Someone else will chime in to clarify, I'm not sure about all the paperwork myself. Yes they ask for a birth certificate that has been issued less than 3 months ago, I'm not sure if they expect this of countries whose birth certificates are never modified.

Just a note about visas and residency permits. Visas allow you initial entry into the country and have a set validity, it is only after one year in France that you must apply for a residency permit (carte de sejour) which gets renewed every year until you are eligible for a 10-year residency card (for people married to French nationals you get this after 4 years of marriage I think).

The other option is to get married in the US, once married you apply to have the marriage transcribed at the consulate and wait to receive your Livret de famille and French marriage certificate. Once that's done your marriage is fully recognised in France. The downside here is that the process of updating the French national's birth certificate and getting the livret de famille can take anywhere between 1 and 6 months.
 

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On the issue of birth certificates:
1. Is my US Naturalization certificate going to be it? or do I need to go to Dominican Republic and pray that they still have my Dominican birth certificate? :/
No. They don't care about your your naturalization certificate. They want your birth certificate from your country of birth.
2. What is meant by a birth certificate that is "not older than 3 months"?
Does it only apply to my fiancée? - I read that French birth certificates contain
information about people's lives such as: previous marriages, children they may have, etc. So would they expect me to have mine (either the US Citizen certificate or the one from my native country) freshly re-issued? Seeing as neither of the two would contain such information.
Yes, you need a "freshly issued" BC from the DR.
 

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The visa is the trickiest of the issues. France doesn't have a real "fiancé" visa, but what several consulates recommend is that you apply for a long-stay visitor visa for one-year. This will require that you have the resources to stay for a year without working (or your fiancé can offer to cover you, and he'll have to supply his financial references), and have insurance coverage for a year (with repatriation in the case of serious accident or illness).

You get married once you're over here - and then you apply for a change in status (i.e. from "visitor" to "spouse") when you go to renew your carte de séjour. The key thing seems to be that you need to prove that you've been legally living with your (by now) spouse for at least six months before you apply to renew your carte de séjour. You need to make sure your name is on the lease, or you have joint bank accounts and that you are receiving an invoice or two in your own name at your common residence.

Otherwise, you will have to return to the US with your livret de famille to apply for a proper spouse visa. The good news with this approach is that they can't refuse you a spouse visa (except for very serious offenses - like fraud or refusing to learn French) and the process should take only a week or two.

1. Is my US Naturalization certificate going to be it? or do I need to go to Dominican Republic and pray that they still have my Dominican birth certificate? :/
Actually, you're going to need both. The US naturalization certificate means that you are now covered by the US law and not Dominican law. And the original birth certificate is proof of who you are (and is used to validate that you are the person who is covered by the US naturalization certificate).

2. What is meant by a birth certificate that is "not older than 3 months"?
As you indicated, French birth records are updated for marriages, divorces and the death of the person. French law assumes that every other country functions more or less like France does. So you need an official copy of your birth certificate, which should be stamped by the local authority and the date on the stamp has to be within the last 3 months.

Certificates of celibacy and an affidavit of law...

- Okay so I can get the certificate of celibacy at the US Embassy in Paris (if I understood that correctly).

- The affidavit of law; Would I find said attorney at the US Embassy in Paris?
I think you can get both the certificate of celebacy and the affidavit at the US Consulate in Paris these days. Check their website to be sure - or if not, they will have a list of the dual qualified lawyers in Paris who can draw up the affidavit.

Medical certificate...

-What is it exactly?
If this is still required, it's simply a letter from a French doctor stating that you have been examined "with a view to marriage." Usually, it's nothing more than a superficial check-up with, perhaps, a round of blood tests for venereal diseases and HIV. I thought they had done away with this requirement, but you need to get the current list of requirements for marriage (with a foreigner) from the mairie where you are going to be married (i.e. where your fiancé is resident).
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Actually, you're going to need both. The US naturalization certificate means that you are now covered by the US law and not Dominican law. And the original birth certificate is proof of who you are (and is used to validate that you are the person who is covered by the US naturalization certificate).
Is this new? I've never heard them asking for a naturalization certificate. :confused:
 

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Is this new? I've never heard them asking for a naturalization certificate. :confused:
Not sure if it's absolutely required - but it won't be accepted in lieu of a birth certificate, plus it avoids any potential difficulties arising from the difference between place of birth (and nationality at birth) and the US passport.

Basically, it never hurts to have a document or two in excess of the minimum required. Particularly when dealing with the French administration.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you all for responding! I appreciate and value your feedback.

The thing I am not entirely clear on is if my US Naturalization certificate also has to be
re-issued for that purpose. Regardless, I still have to get a new one (the original got caught in
a house fire).
I've taken into consideration everything you said. While doing some research, I am now leaning on the idea the Visa Officer mentioned: Get married in France, come back to the US and apply for spouse visa. Sarah, that's exactly what you pointed out :)

My partner and I are still going to keep discussing this but so far, I like said approach.

Bev, Sarah, Mia; thank you for input ♥
I'll more than likely have more questions as the process continues. Whatever they may be, I hope they've already been answered somewhere in the forum.

-K
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I've been thinking recently....

Would it be relatively easier for him and I to marry in the US and then transfer our marriage license over to France?

Would that be better? The same? Harder?
 

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I've been thinking recently....

Would it be relatively easier for him and I to marry in the US and then transfer our marriage license over to France?

Would that be better? The same? Harder?
Depends on your own particular situation and goals.

If you marry in the US, it can take some time (like "a few" months) to get the livret de famille through the French consulate. Once you have that, the visa process is fairly straightforward and should take no more than maybe a couple of weeks. (It could take more time than that to get an appointment with the consulate to submit your application - but after that it's pretty much done.)

If you marry in France, you have two options:

One, you go the "visitor's" visa route. This involves getting a one-year visitor's visa (you have to show proof of support and health insurance for the year). Once you get to France, you get married, and then apply to change your status. Some prefectures, apparently, will not let you change your status until you can document that you have been living together for at least 6 months. Others simply want you to wait until your visitor's visa is due to expire and you're ready to renew it (or rather to get a carte de séjour). The big disadvantage here is that you can't work until your change in status has been processed.

The other alternative is to go to France and get married on the Schengen tourist visa stamped in your passport. You get the livret de famille from the mairie that married you. Then you return to the US and put in your paperwork for your spouse visa. It's a shorter process (because you already have the livret de famille) but there is the need to return to the US and then go back to France.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Depends on your own particular situation and goals.

If you marry in the US, it can take some time (like "a few" months) to get the livret de famille through the French consulate. Once you have that, the visa process is fairly straightforward and should take no more than maybe a couple of weeks. (It could take more time than that to get an appointment with the consulate to submit your application - but after that it's pretty much done.)

If you marry in France, you have two options:

One, you go the "visitor's" visa route. This involves getting a one-year visitor's visa (you have to show proof of support and health insurance for the year). Once you get to France, you get married, and then apply to change your status. Some prefectures, apparently, will not let you change your status until you can document that you have been living together for at least 6 months. Others simply want you to wait until your visitor's visa is due to expire and you're ready to renew it (or rather to get a carte de séjour). The big disadvantage here is that you can't work until your change in status has been processed.

The other alternative is to go to France and get married on the Schengen tourist visa stamped in your passport. You get the livret de famille from the mairie that married you. Then you return to the US and put in your paperwork for your spouse visa. It's a shorter process (because you already have the livret de famille) but there is the need to return to the US and then go back to France.
Cheers,
Bev

Thank you sooo much Bev.

So far for marriage in the US, there seems to be less paperwork.
I say this because I called my state's County Clerk's office and told them
the situation. The lady I spoke to said that all we would need is our ID's.
For me a driver's license, and for him (a French national), a passport.

I also did email the visa officer at the French Consulate and he told me that
the next steps would be to obtain a transcription:
Transcription d'un acte de mariage célébré en Floride - Consulat Général de France à Miami

And then apply for a long stay visa as the spouse of a French national.

The other thing is...I've been to three different websites for French Consulates in the US: Miami (the one I need to go to), New York, and Washington DC.
For this kind of visa, it seems like each has different requirements.

Why is that?

It makes me apprehensive because the Miami consulate doesn't ask for as much paperwork as the other two I mentioned.
 

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The other thing is...I've been to three different websites for French Consulates in the US: Miami (the one I need to go to), New York, and Washington DC.
For this kind of visa, it seems like each has different requirements.

Why is that?

It makes me apprehensive because the Miami consulate doesn't ask for as much paperwork as the other two I mentioned.
Because you're dealing with the French administration. Get used to it if you're going to be living in France after you get married. The "fonctionnaires" (civil servants) are given a certain amount of discretion in how they carry out their duties. This results in different procedures and different requirements from one office to the next.

Just wait until you have to deal with the préfectures here in France!
Cheers,
Bev
 
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