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I am an American citizen, and I came to France with my long-term girlfriend (also an American citizen) who has a position as a lectrice at a French university. I am unemployed and living off of savings. I'm in a bit of a pickle visa-wise, because I have over-stayed my 90-day tourist visa by a couple months. I arrived in Brussels in September and received the tourist stamp, and was not stamped when I crossed the border into France. I have been to Belgium several times since, and have never been checked or stamped going in or out.

I traveled to the UK for about a week from February 12-20, and encountered some trouble at the UK immigration checkpoint as I was attempting to board the Eurostar to leave France (no trouble from the French immigration checkpoint, even after the UK worker talked to them and told them I had over-stayed). I was told that I was in France illegally and might not be allowed re-entry from the UK. Eventually, I was allowed into the UK and was told I should apply for a "residence permit" at the local city hall as soon as I returned. I was allowed back into France with no problems, and now have a stamp stating I entered France from the UK on February 20.

I was planning on going to my local city hall to apply for a "residence permit" as instructed, but after doing some research online, it doesn't seem to me that I will be granted it. I would like to stay in France with my girlfriend until her contract ends in August, but is there a legal way for me to do this? I would really rather not pay for an expensive flight to the states and back in order to obtain some kind of visa there if it can be avoided.

So my question is - what are my options? Will France even consider granting me any kind of "residence permit", visa, or other document legalizing my stay here, since I have already over-stayed my tourist visa? And if so, will I have to return to the US in order to apply for/get it? Will having a stamp showing entry to France from the UK in February help me at all? Should I just go to the local city hall and tell them my situation, and see what they tell me to do? Or is my best option to just return to the U.S. as soon as I can?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated - I'm having a really difficult time understanding French visa/immigration laws, and would love to hear from someone who has dealt with them before. Even if you're not sure exactly what I should do, any insight into the situation whatsoever could be really helpful!
 
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