Expat Forum For People Moving Overseas And Living Abroad banner
1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,

I'm a 34 year old aussie with about USD$60k+ in savings, looking to leave my job in NYC and move to Paris for a girl, as clichéd as that may sound. Actually it's also because i'm tired of NYC and want to change careers. I work in film and TV and get some freelance work, but i've just started an online degree in computer science with an aussie uni.

My current plan is:
1. 3 month Schengen Visa while i improve my french skills and continue my online degree.
2. Apply for long stay visitor, with intention to improve french to the point where i can transfer to a french uni to continue my studies.
3. Apply for a student visa to finish my degree there.

Is this crazy? Will my visa hopping cause problems? Is there anything i could do better or should consider? I've been quoted 950 euros by an agent in France to guide me through the process, and haven't managed to find any others who will reply to me. So if anyone has any recommendations i would be grateful.

Merci beaucoup!
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
53,142 Posts
First of all, forget about the "visa agent." French bureaucracy doesn't work that way - and to be honest about it, if you go through an agent, there could well be some "suspicion" that you're doing so because you have some skeleton in your closet you're trying to hide.

Second thing is that if you go on a Schengen visa, you will have to return home in order to apply for a long stay visa of any sort. Skip the preliminaries and just get your long stay visa up front.

The "trick" is to find out whether you can change your status without having to go back home and re-apply for a new visa. There is no problem changing from just about any long-stay visa to a spouse visa (assuming things go well with your girlfriend). But a visitor visa to a student visa may be a bit more problematic - and in fact, there is no prohibition on studying while on a visitor visa. (The main advantage of a student visa is that the financial resources requirement is somewhat lower than for a visitor visa and there is a provision to work part time for "spending money.")

Or go on a student visa - to study French, for example. It should be possible to renew a student visa (actually, the resident permit) as long as you can stay enrolled in an acceptable academic program. At the end of it all, you can transfer to a work visa if you can find suitable employment in your field of study. Or you marry the girlfriend and go the spouse visa route.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your help Bev!

For the agent, i guess i'm just paranoid about missing something. Also i'm used to US immigration, where it's beneficial to have someone who's seen what causes applications to encounter problems.

I will take a look at going straight to student visa, thanks! However, the Sydney French consulate has the following info in their student visa section:

This visa is for students or professionals enrolled full time in a public or private educational establishment, approved by the French authorities, and endorsed by a French State Diploma. Studies must be related to the Diplomas obtained previously or your current professional occupation.

Applicants enrolled in a French language school or for a course of "civilisation française" at the Sorbonne or for theatre workshops or any other individual personal project, are not eligible for this category of visa and should apply for a long stay visa (visitor).


This seems to go against what i've read about student visas being possible for French language schools. I've emailed the consulate to ask for clarification in my situation, but i wonder if anyone has any experience or knowledge they could share about this?

And thanks again!
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
18,642 Posts
Thanks for your help Bev!

For the agent, i guess i'm just paranoid about missing something. Also i'm used to US immigration, where it's beneficial to have someone who's seen what causes applications to encounter problems.

I will take a look at going straight to student visa, thanks! However, the Sydney French consulate has the following info in their student visa section:

This visa is for students or professionals enrolled full time in a public or private educational establishment, approved by the French authorities, and endorsed by a French State Diploma. Studies must be related to the Diplomas obtained previously or your current professional occupation.

Applicants enrolled in a French language school or for a course of "civilisation française" at the Sorbonne or for theatre workshops or any other individual personal project, are not eligible for this category of visa and should apply for a long stay visa (visitor).


This seems to go against what i've read about student visas being possible for French language schools. I've emailed the consulate to ask for clarification in my situation, but i wonder if anyone has any experience or knowledge they could share about this?

And thanks again!
If you're currently resident in the US, you should make your application via the appropriate US Consulate, not the Sydney Consulate (which is known to be particularly 'difficult').
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you EverHopeful!

That's a bit concerning about the Sydney consulate, as i'm only in the US on an E3 visa, which means it's tied to my job (which i'm leaving). I've read that they want you to show that you are able to return to the country you applied from at the end of the student visa - does that sound right? I wouldn't have an American visa anymore though, after leaving here.

I wonder if it might be better to initially go on a long stay visitor visa to study french (and art - painting is a passion of mine), then once i'm accepted into a French uni for computer science, return to Australia to apply for a student visa for that. It seems like i'd have to start any proper uni course next September anyway.

Bev mentioned that going from long stay visitor to student visa might be problematic, could anyone say exactly how? I could imagine they might be suspicious about my hopping from visa to visa, but if they also basically say "if you came here to learn french, don't get a student visa, get a visitor visa" on the consulate's website, surely it seems reasonable?

I hope my questions aren't too annoying, i'm just terrified of applying for French visas now. And i thought my US visa experiences were stressful!

Merci á touts!
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
53,142 Posts
The issue is that, officially, you can only apply for a visa from a consulate - which means from outside of France. The prefectures cannot and do not issue visas. What the prefectures issue are titres de séjour (residence permits). There is some limited capacity to change someone's status on a titre de séjour - say, from visiteur to spouse (i.e. vie privée et familiale) and from a student to an employee (assuming certain conditions are met), but in these cases, it's the residence permit that is being changed.

Switching from visiteur to student is kind of problematic because the conditions of the residence permit/visa are significantly different and actually the student visa is somewhat easier to get than a visitor visa (due to lower financial resources and the need to prove that you are enrolled in a student program). There actually wouldn't be any reason to change your visa type if you arrive on a visitor visa and then want to enroll in a uni program. The only real difference is that you would have to maintain your financial resources and you wouldn't be able to work at all. (Then again, the work privileges on a student visa generally only allow for part-time work or working only at school holidays - enough for pocket money, not really for supporting onesself.)

You may want to take a look at the Campus France website to see what, if anything, they say about French language classes and their eligibility for student visa requirements. They used to require anyone going for a student visa to go through Campus France. It's no longer required, but you might get some help and/or ideas from looking at their site.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks again Bev, you're fantastic!

So i've been poking around, and information is not easy to get a hold of. So the Aussie French consulate student visa section says this:

This visa is for students or professionals enrolled full time in a public or private educational establishment, approved by the French authorities, and endorsed by a French State Diploma. Studies must be related to the Diplomas obtained previously or your current professional occupation.

The following persons will therefore be considered as students in France:

Applicants pursuing academic studies at a University or High School (including within an exchange program between French and Australian universities) ;
Professionals on training to acquire or complete a professional qualification ;
French courses leading to a degree in the French language.


Applicants enrolled in a French language school or for a course of "civilisation française" at the Sorbonne or for theatre workshops or any other individual personal project, are not eligible for this category of visa and should apply for a long stay visa (visitor).
I emailed the consulate asking them to clarify whether they'd accept a French language school with "qualité FLE", and DELF/DALF ceritifcation, and also whether they'd consider studying computer science in order to extend/change my career to be valid. And, i guess as i should have expected, they basically just replied "we don't know until you submit your application".

Emailing campusfrance doesn't help either, as they mustn't be allowed to comment on the ins and outs of Visas. And i realise that it is generally a bad thing to predict legal outcomes for others, but i'd have hoped there would be some general guidelines.

So it looks like all i have to go on are these lines of text from the consulate. What do you guys think? Given the reputation of the Aussie consulate for being picky, does going for the student visa for a language school sound like a terrible idea? I'm also being a bit neurotic about this because a rejected visa will mean being away from my gf for longer.
.
Thanks for all your patience and wisdom everyone!
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
53,142 Posts
If you're legally resident in NYC, you wouldn't be dealing with the Aussie consulate in any event. The French want you to apply from the consulate covering the area in which you are resident. So at this point, your main option seems to be the visitor visa - which means you would have to have adequate financial resources for your long stay (i.e. for a year). Plus a reason for wanting to live in France for a year in order to show that you're not going to work under the table to support yourself.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ah, that's the tricky thing as well. I'm in NYC on an E3 visa, which is tied to my job. So basically, once i quit the job, i'm not a legal resident (after a 60 day grace period). Even if my employer doesn't notify USCIS of my resignation, my current visa's expiry date is August 2018, and i've read that the French consulate would want my US visa to be valid 3 months from the end of my proposed French visa.

It's all a bit messy, but basically i won't have resident rights in any country but Australia at the time i apply. Just to be safe, i'm getting an FBI criminal record clearance as well as an Aussie one.

At the moment, i'm thinking that it might be a good idea to apply for a temporary long stay (4-6 months). Between traveling around France, learning french, and practicing my drawing/painting in (some would say) the capital of fine art, i'm hoping that i'll have an acceptable reason. Also, financial resources should be ok. I have about USD$38k in stocks in my US account, which i'll be liquidating soon, as well as about AUD$30k in savings and stocks.

Then, maybe if i'm interested in studying at a French Uni, and they accept me, i can head back to Australia and apply for a student visa. That wouldn't seem too unnatural, would it?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,787 Posts
Yeah RogMoves I think your idea is a good one. To be honest, getting a whole year of "French language classes" for a student visa might seem a tad suspect, and they might ask if you have a girlfriend there and if you say yes, this might make them not want to give you the visa. (I don't know why, but they seem to be against people using the student visa to go to France and be with a significant other).

Does Australia need to go through Campus France? One thing I heard is that if you apply to a school while you're still actively living in France (on the visa) you might get to bypass the whole CampusFrance thing and apply directly to a university. But I bet you'd still need to get a visa in Australia.

Anyway, I like your idea of going on a visitor visa and taking classes while there, then enrolling to a university and getting a student visa then. And the 4-6 months idea might work better with your $60k budget (versus a year). They want you to have more money for a visitor visa. As bev said, they expect you to have less (or I should say, they don't expect you to have as much) when you apply for a student visa.
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
18,642 Posts
Yeah RogMoves I think your idea is a good one. To be honest, getting a whole year of "French language classes" for a student visa might seem a tad suspect, and they might ask if you have a girlfriend there and if you say yes, this might make them not want to give you the visa. (I don't know why, but they seem to be against people using the student visa to go to France and be with a significant other).

Does Australia need to go through Campus France? One thing I heard is that if you apply to a school while you're still actively living in France (on the visa) you might get to bypass the whole CampusFrance thing and apply directly to a university. But I bet you'd still need to get a visa in Australia.

Anyway, I like your idea of going on a visitor visa and taking classes while there, then enrolling to a university and getting a student visa then. And the 4-6 months idea might work better with your $60k budget (versus a year). They want you to have more money for a visitor visa. As bev said, they expect you to have less (or I should say, they don't expect you to have as much) when you apply for a student visa.
They expect you to have more than $60k for a 12 month visitor visa?????
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
53,142 Posts
They expect you to have more than $60k for a 12 month visitor visa?????
Yes, very likely. They look with great suspicion on anyone looking to go to France and live off their life savings for a year. If you have, say, a million bucks in the bank, then living without working for a year in France is no big deal. But if you are starting out with $60K, what are you going to have left at the end of the year? And for someone in their "prime working years" the temptation to work under the table, just to not wind up empty handed at the end of the year is assumed to be just too great.

There is also the "tradition" of the visitor visa having been used in the past as a "fiancé visa" - now discouraged by quite a few French consulates in the US (and possibly Australia). If they suspect there is a boyfriend/girlfriend in the picture, they could simply refuse the visa, citing "inadequate financial resources" (which is probably the most common reason for turning someone down for a visa).
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
18,642 Posts
Yes, very likely. They look with great suspicion on anyone looking to go to France and live off their life savings for a year. If you have, say, a million bucks in the bank, then living without working for a year in France is no big deal. But if you are starting out with $60K, what are you going to have left at the end of the year? And for someone in their "prime working years" the temptation to work under the table, just to not wind up empty handed at the end of the year is assumed to be just too great.

There is also the "tradition" of the visitor visa having been used in the past as a "fiancé visa" - now discouraged by quite a few French consulates in the US (and possibly Australia). If they suspect there is a boyfriend/girlfriend in the picture, they could simply refuse the visa, citing "inadequate financial resources" (which is probably the most common reason for turning someone down for a visa).
Cheers,
Bev
But if you have 60K you would be earning interest on it as well. Frankly, it's hard to see how you would just blow 60k in 12 months - and if you would, you would equally be capable of blowing a million if you had it. Renewal, after all, depends on your financial situation at that time. (No one is suggesting a "fiancé visa" and I don't believe it is even available from the Australian Consulate.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,787 Posts
I might not have worded it clearly -- I meant in general they want you to have more money for a visitor visa than for a student visa. I don't know for sure how they'd react to $60k for 12 months....but, yes, it seems on the "lower end of acceptable" to me. They very well might not go for it. It's easy to blow through money when you're not making any. They wouldn't blow ALL of it in a year, but they'd get low on money. And interest really doesn't do much, lol. So like I said ... $60k for 4-6 months is reasonable as far as what the consulate would want. For 12 months...it's really pushing it...
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
53,142 Posts
But if you have 60K you would be earning interest on it as well. Frankly, it's hard to see how you would just blow 60k in 12 months - and if you would, you would equally be capable of blowing a million if you had it. Renewal, after all, depends on your financial situation at that time. (No one is suggesting a "fiancé visa" and I don't believe it is even available from the Australian Consulate.
Have you seen bank interest rates lately? If you're getting 1% you're doing extremely well. Most bank accounts are currently paying 0.5% or less.

But the consulates aren't looking to run anyone through their life savings during the term of their stay in France. And they are well aware that, once you're set up in France, it's much easier to disappear into the crowd. No, I think unless you have a rather specific reason to stay for only a year in France, you'd need quite a bit more than $60K to be granted a visitor visa.

And there is no fiancé visa for France. What I was saying is that, in recent years, some consulates have granted "visitor visas" to those going to France to marry their girl- or boyfriend, but that appears to have stopped (at least in most consulates). If there is mention of (or suspicion of) a significant other in France, the assumption may well be made that the person is trying to join that person using the old visitor visa ploy. (But even that often required evidence that a wedding was actually being planned - like a booking at the mairie.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
18,642 Posts
You guys are, after all, just guessing re funds required - IMHO. Not that it's relevant here, given the OP will be seeking a visa for 4-6 months.

I didn't actually think there was a fiance visa (but who knows what all the different consulates do) - I misread Bev's post.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,787 Posts
Everhopeful... I've been through both long stay visitor visa and student visa experiences recently. I am giving advice based on my experiences. My recent experiences with this system. It's not just random guessing. No, they have not released an "official number" but we're trying to give wise advice to the original poster. All I said was I agreed 4-6 months was a better idea (he was talking about both 12 and 4-6, if you go back and read his original posts). For people without French citizenship, to get to France, visas and financial back-up are all extremely important, and it's somewhat on the strict side. (maybe not compared to ALL countries, but it's not a walk in the park for a non-EU citizen to get a visa to France.) Trust us a little, lol.
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
18,642 Posts
Everhopeful... I've been through both long stay visitor visa and student visa experiences recently. I am giving advice based on my experiences. My recent experiences with this system. It's not just random guessing. No, they have not released an "official number" but we're trying to give wise advice to the original poster. All I said was I agreed 4-6 months was a better idea (he was talking about both 12 and 4-6, if you go back and read his original posts). For people without French citizenship, to get to France, visas and financial back-up are all extremely important, and it's somewhat on the strict side. (maybe not compared to ALL countries, but it's not a walk in the park for a non-EU citizen to get a visa to France.) Trust us a little, lol.
I simply said you were guessing - which you are.
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
18,642 Posts
If the OP is under 30 and an Australian citizen he could apply for a working holiday visa, which only requires funds of 5,000 AUD https://au.ambafrance.org/Long-stay-visa-for-France.

Australia has a reciprocal "Working Holiday" maker arrangement with France since 2003. This category allows young Australians to experience French culture and lifestyle, with an extended holiday and incidental employment for 12 months (non renewable).

Please note : It is not intended for any other purpose such as joining your partner/fiancé in France, studying, be an Au Pair or finding long term employment (refer to these specific visa categories).

Eligibility :
*Be 18 to 30 years old included at the time of application;
*Be outside of France when applying and when the visa is granted;
*Must not have benefited previously from this program;
*No accompanying dependant children;
*Proof of funds required: 5000 AUD;
*Hold 1 year compulsory insurance.

Notice :
*A Temporary Work permit will not be required at the time of visa application, however it must be obtained once in France prior to taking up any form of employment.
Please contact the nearest French Labour Department (DIRECCTE) Direccte National. The work permit shall be granted for the
duration of the position.
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top