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Hi, newby here and glad to find the site! I have been traveling to France for the last 20 years, but now I am going for a long time, due to a new business opening up. So, many questions to you all. First, I am applying for my 1 year Visa to stay - correct? Is there anything longer? I am working for an American company so I don't need to show that I am going to be working there yet, but maybe in the future... I want to take my own car over there, which is a German VW anyway, so not an American Car. Is this good, can I get it there with minimal fees, since it is not new, and I own it outright? I am assuming I have to have a place of residence first so I have a legal address there... Anyone know the fees for bringing my car over there and the process for registering it to use it there? Do I have to pay Tax? Any good car shippers that you know of, I am in CA. Ideally I would like to ship it in a container with some of my own household furnishings if possible. Anyone done this?

I have never rented an apartment overthere, always stayed in hotels for extended periods. What do I need to rent an apartment there, since I won't be showing a French employer....?

Any help from anyone would be greatly appreciated!
 

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Hi - as you've no doubt noticed, I've moved your post to a thread of its own in order to attract a few more responses.

A few "issues" I've noticed in your post, though...

>>First, I am applying for my 1 year Visa to stay - correct? Is there anything longer? I am working for an American company so I don't need to show that I am going to be working there yet, but maybe in the future...<<

Wrong - on all scores. It sounds like what you're looking for is a long stay visa - which is for anything longer than 90 days. Depending on your circumstances, you'll either have that visa validated for the first year, or you'll have to get a carte de séjour for the first year. After that first year, you need to renew your carte de séjour (basically, a residence permit) annually until you are offered a longer duration carte de séjour. Renewing your carte de séjour requires that you verify that all conditions met for the visa are still in force - which means you have to still be employed by the same employer who sponsored your visa application.

But you DO need to have your employer sponsor your visa application. There is no work visa without that and the nationality of the employer has no bearing whatsoever on your status. If your employer is establishing a French branch or subsidiary, they will need to find a local (probably an attorney or accountant) to set up the initial business entity, which then clears the way for this entity to sponsor you as a transfer.

Your employer will have to justify your presence in France and submit that sponsorship to the consulate in order for you to be eligible to apply for a visa with working privileges. You should contact the French consulate either in San Francisco or in Los Angeles - whichever covers the area in which you currently live - for more information.

You become subject to French taxes and cotisations (social insurances) the moment you set up residence in the France with the intention of remaining. You can't change your situation after you've arrived and gotten settled in (or at least it is very difficult to do so).

As far as the question of bringing your car over, it's obviously your decision, but most folks will advise against it. Even VW's made for and sold in the American market are not the same as VW's made and sold in Europe. You will have problems getting repair parts and European gas pumps don't have the smaller nozzle they use in the US for unleaded gas.

In any event, here is the info on importing a car to France: Information for private individuals - Importing a Private Vehicle into France from Canada or the U.S. - France in the United States/ Embassy of France in Washington

As far as renting a flat in France, you need your residence documents and generally three months of pay slips or a guarantor (basically a co-signer) for the lease. In your circumstances, most landlords would expect your employer to act as guarantor.

This should get you started, but feel free to come back with other questions or issues.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Bev, thanks for the information!

So, let me try to get a clear picture of this.

1. What do I need to apply for, or get before comming over and staying for a year - a residence permit or residence visa? And, how and where do I get these papers?

2. I have heard about the "carte de sejour", but do not know exactly what its for. As I understood, I was to get this after being in the country, correct? Do I apply for this along with the residence permit or visa, or after?

3. What if I own the company I work for.... how do I sponsor myself? I can do my work in France through my computer, which is not really working in France..... so I am just staying there. Are you saying that I have to pay taxes there by doing this?

4. As I understand, a landlord will not rent me an apartment until I have this "residence visa" in hand..... and a local sponsor? Please help on this one, as I was going to try to set something up before going over but maybe they wont until they see the actual papers?

Thanks so much, I am sure there will be more questions....:)
 

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Bev, one more thing you could help me with, so that I could get it done right away, is:

What kind of letter do I need from my main employer..... A letter with information and signature of a boss??? How would they even know thats legitimate? Please tell me what they need so that I can get that done. Thanks
 

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Hi Bev, thanks for the information!

So, let me try to get a clear picture of this.

1. What do I need to apply for, or get before comming over and staying for a year - a residence permit or residence visa? And, how and where do I get these papers?
You apply for a "long stay visa" - for which you must have a convincing "reason" to want to live in France and the means to support yourself. Check the website of the French consulate covering the area where you are now resident. They indicate what documents you'll need and how to apply. But they all have a caveat stating that just because you have all the documents they ask for, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll be granted the visa.

2. I have heard about the "carte de sejour", but do not know exactly what its for. As I understood, I was to get this after being in the country, correct? Do I apply for this along with the residence permit or visa, or after?
A visa is a document allowing you to enter the country. (Though, like for the US, the immigration people at the border can deny you entry even with a visa, if they suspect your motives or anything else.) Once you have been admitted to the country with your visa, you then follow the instructions of the OFII (one of many offices involved with immigration) as to whether you have your visa "validated" as a residence permit for your first year in France, or just apply to your local prefecture to get a carte de séjour. During this first year in France, you'll be expected to take a couple day-long classes on "Life in France" and to learn the language, if you don't already speak, read and write it.

3. What if I own the company I work for.... how do I sponsor myself? I can do my work in France through my computer, which is not really working in France..... so I am just staying there. Are you saying that I have to pay taxes there by doing this?
Now, you're getting into very murky territory, as there isn't a tried and true path for entering France to set up a company, as it seems you are planning on doing. If you are resident in France doing work through your computer anywhere in the world, you are "working in France" for tax purposes. (And again, like the US, France taxes based on worldwide income.)

4. As I understand, a landlord will not rent me an apartment until I have this "residence visa" in hand..... and a local sponsor? Please help on this one, as I was going to try to set something up before going over but maybe they wont until they see the actual papers?
This is another tricky area. With the most recent changes in visa requirements, we're hearing that the consulates are insisting that you have "proof of a place to live" (i.e. a lease in your name) as part of the visa application process. However, most landlords will not rent to someone without proof of employment, income, etc. What some folks have reported doing is contacting a rental agent and getting an "agreement to rent" - basically a document saying that, assuming the person gets their visa, the agent or landlord is convinced of their ability to make the rent payments and would be willing to rent them one of their available properties. Again, you probably need to talk to the consulate to see just exactly what they expect here.

Now, back to your basic problem: going over to France to set up a company for yourself is a bit outside the box, and thus will cause all sorts of problems when it comes to visa issuance, etc. (France is like that - you get used to it after a while.) Your best bet would probably be to make a series of short trips over to France to contact the appropriate professional people - attorney, accountant, maybe someone to function as a temporary manager for your company until you get up and running - and to get the company started.

It really depends on the type of company you're trying to set up - but in general, you won't be given a visa to set up an auto-entrepreneur business (the new, simplified business registration). You might get away with going for one of these new "competences and talents" visas if you can demonstrate that your business plan offers something of value to France (like employing French citizens).
Cheers,
Bev
 

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What kind of letter do I need from my main employer..... A letter with information and signature of a boss??? How would they even know thats legitimate? Please tell me what they need so that I can get that done. Thanks
No, you won't get anywhere with a letter from your employer. What you need is to have your employer's French office go through the whole process for justifying your "transfer" or "hiring" in France. They have to prove to the French officials that there is some urgent reason to bring you over to France rather than just hiring someone from France to do whatever it is you're going to do.

Once the French Labor people have approved your "hiring" in France, they then send word to the consulate where you will be applying for your visa. Only problem is that your "working permission" will probably be limited to your original employer. If you change jobs, your new employer would have to then sponsor a new visa for you (though this can sometimes be done on site).

In your case, if you're setting up your own business in France, you would have to deal with the local prefecture to see if there is some sort of way to change your carte de séjour from whatever it is to one that would permit you to become the "gérant" (i.e. managing director) of your company. There used to be a special carte de séjour for "commerçants" (basically business owners), but I haven't heard anything about this one for years now so I'm not sure if it still exists.

One caveat: If you're planning on working remotely for your employer, you'll wind up having to create some sort of business enterprise for yourself in France, as you then become fully responsible for making cotisations payments during the year. What this basically means to you is that, unless your employer has a French office of some sort that will take responsibility for your "payroll" you probably won't qualify for a visa that will allow you to work. Again, contact the consulate to see what (if anything) you can do here.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Business/France

No, you won't get anywhere with a letter from your employer. What you need is to have your employer's French office go through the whole process for justifying your "transfer" or "hiring" in France. They have to prove to the French officials that there is some urgent reason to bring you over to France rather than just hiring someone from France to do whatever it is you're going to do.

Once the French Labor people have approved your "hiring" in France, they then send word to the consulate where you will be applying for your visa. Only problem is that your "working permission" will probably be limited to your original employer. If you change jobs, your new employer would have to then sponsor a new visa for you (though this can sometimes be done on site).

In your case, if you're setting up your own business in France, you would have to deal with the local prefecture to see if there is some sort of way to change your carte de séjour from whatever it is to one that would permit you to become the "gérant" (i.e. managing director) of your company. There used to be a special carte de séjour for "commerçants" (basically business owners), but I haven't heard anything about this one for years now so I'm not sure if it still exists.

One caveat: If you're planning on working remotely for your employer, you'll wind up having to create some sort of business enterprise for yourself in France, as you then become fully responsible for making cotisations payments during the year. What this basically means to you is that, unless your employer has a French office of some sort that will take responsibility for your "payroll" you probably won't qualify for a visa that will allow you to work. Again, contact the consulate to see what (if anything) you can do here.
Cheers,
Bev
Hi Bev,
Thanks for all the help you are giving!

O.K., I already have the business in France....I have a company in the US, and the French/Group of Business people that own the rights to sell my business in France, are doing so under their own business, but they own the rights in France and Europe..... In other words, they buy from me in the US and sell in Europe, eventhough, I own the US Company. So, from what you are telling me I could just have that company in France, have the business Attny sign the documents to say that I am going to be consulting for them of and on for a year or so. I know its confusing, but what I am trying to say is that I am not trying to set up something new, it is already going on and i just need to come over and come and go as a consultant, as need be. Won't be making any money from them, just helping, but I need to do it right so I don't step on this 90 day limit thing and I need to rent an apartment and such.

From what you are all telling each other, it may be a lot simplier to just not do any visas, come in for a month, leave for a few weeks, come back in for another month, leave for a few weeks and so on and so on, hoping this pattern, goes over the 180 day period of allowance for the 90 day period. That way I wouldn't be subject to any taxes, or residence fees and such? Correct? Sounds like I could make it so much more complicated by doing all these Visas and such, trying to be "good".


The Car Importing:

Isn't it possible for people to import their own car just to use for an extended period of time to travel around Europe? If so, wouldn't this be easier than haveing to pay all the taxes and import and such, and is there a way to do this this way? Or not? If I am just using my own car for a period of time and then sending it back, or is it worth it? Too Messy? No easy way?

Thanks Bev
RivieraQueen
 

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It really depends on what you want to accomplish. If you are looking to take up residence in France (for whatever reasons), you have to get yourself a visa. If you're just looking to consult, you probably should just use your "Schengen visa" privileges to make a series of business trips over to visit your associates in France. As long as your legal and tax residence remains in the US, you're off the hook for cotisations and taxes.

As far as the car is concerned, it isn't normally possible to import a vehicle for an "extended period of time" because it's considered that importing a car from outside the EU is an indication that you're installing yourself "for the long-term" and thus should have a visa (and be paying taxes etc.). Consider the reverse case - how do you think the US authorities would react to someone who wanted to import their European car to the US, but were on a VWP themselves? I really don't think it would fly. And lots of immigration stuff like that tends to be tit for tat.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I've brought my VW (130hp Diesel Passat 2002) to France, but find it's not listed anywhere because this model was never released here. It seems to be a common problem. I'm having to apply to VW for a Certificat de Conformité to say the car meets local regs, and will then have to get a French MOT.

Its a time consuming business, add in the headlight changes from LHD to RHD (not applicable to you but to UK readers), the hassle of re-registering on French plates, which involves local authority and therefore slow and unpredictable. It becomes debatable if it's really worth it for an older car. I guess as your shipping from the States, yours is a special car...

Anyone heading back the UK wanting a very serviceable Passat? ;)

Louise x
 
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