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I am currently living in South Carolina and my fiance is in Paris. He is coming to visit for Christmas and I plan to move there after the Holidays - we will go back together. Although this has been the plan for our entire year, we recently decided to get married (!!!) Now I am looking through all of the paperwork and searching online for information on what we need to do and in what order - and I really feel like there is so much conflicting information out there (even if you go to the consulate) and I'm really not sure what to do! I was hoping someone may have been in a similar situation and could offer some advice based on personal experience..

Ideally, we would like to have a small wedding here when he is in the United States and also have a celebration or ceremony with his Family and friends once we get to France. Would the marriage be recognized in France if it is legal in the United States, or would we still need to go through the proper steps once we get there (have the mayor make it official, etc.) Also, I have seen a lot of names for different visas being discussed - just to clarify, would I need a long stay visa initially, and then have it changed after we are married? Since we would be married in December and I would go there in January, I would most likely need to do the paperwork now correct?

Also, since we are young and just starting out I would absolutely need to work. Will I be able to legally find a job in France after we are married or will I need an additional visa for that?

Does anybody have any advice on marrying in the U.S. versus France - which would be more ideal for our situation?

Thank you so much in advance for your help and advice, I am feeling a little overwhelmed and not sure where to turn!

Lori
 

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OK, based on the information you may want to re-think the timing of what you want to do.

If you get married in the US, you will have to apply for a long-stay visa after the marriage takes place. By all accounts, this process takes anywhere from a couple months to as much as six months. Reason being that before you can get a long-stay visa (for you to go to France to live with your husband) you have to get a livret de famille issued by the French consulate for the area in which you are living in the US.

The livret de famille requires that you submit a "certified" marriage certificate, which takes a while to get - either you need an apostille for your plain old marriage certificate or you need a "certified" version issued by the state rather than by the town or country where you get married. This all takes time and once the request for the livret de famille is processed, they have to contact your husband's birthplace to update his birth record for the fact that he is now married. (Don't ask - that's just how they do things in France.)

Once the livret de famille has been issued to you, you apply for a long-stay visa and that should only take a couple of days or weeks at the most. The main delay there is simply how long it takes to get an appointment for the obligatory interview, but the rest is pretty automatic.

If you decide to get married in France, there is a veritable treasure hunt of documents you'll have to provide as a foreigner, and these days they are saying that you have to return to your home country after the marriage to apply for the long-stay visa. The up side is that if you marry in France, you get the livret de famille at your wedding (in the town hall - the only legal place you can get married in France). You can have a church wedding afterwards and/or a big party - and that way, you do the French wedding first, then honeymoon in the US, have another party for friends and family back there, and getting your long-stay visa for France should only take a couple of days or as long as it takes to get the appointment at the Consulate.

In any event, once you have the long-stay visa, you're ok to work in France. Finding a job is another issue - depends on your qualifications (the French are nuts about "qualifications" usually academic) and your ability to speak French at a reasonable level.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Congratulations!!

I am currently half way through the process of getting married in France. Between the internet and the consulate it is a stressful and confusing process. I seriously stressed every. single. day, but I must say that now that I am *almost* through I am glad we will be able to marry in France vs waiting on the apostille marriage certificate and livre de familly.

My process thus far:

To get married in France I needed certain documents:

- (Certificat de célibat and certificat de coutume) which were provided at the US consulate in Strasbourg when I was there this summer. I am pretty sure it will be just as stressful, but possible to find someone in the US to do it since you are here.

- An APOSTILLE birth certificate. I made sure to bring a birth certificate to France, however, your basic certified copy won't do, most likely. (2 Mairies in France said no). I arrived back in the states September 13th and applied for my apostille within that first week. I JUST got it back this weekend. It takes a while. It's a letter on top of a copy of the original bc your parents filled out when you were born. Pointless in my opinion, but was necessary. ;)

- A 10 hour trip to Miami to apply for my visa. I am not sure where the closest consulate is to you, but that is the one assigned for Florida residents. I went there the day of my appointment (actually yesterday!! woo hoo) and they were extremely nice. I was very concerned about this last step. I had my french bf call them and he emailed him a list of the documents I would need since it is slightly different then the general long stay visa requirements. They no longer do an official "fiance" visa, but I feel like they process it the same. Mine were:

- Le formulaire de demande de visa de long séjour, rempli, signé comportant une photo récente.

- Le formulaire ofii rempli (1ere partie)

- copie du passeport

- justificatif d'hébergement-- this was my bf's apartment lease and other paperwork.

- justificatifs financiers personnels du demandeur-- Like you, I am just starting out, so he allowed a letter from my bf (fiance) stating that he would support me financially and provide a place to live (d'hebergement). It included a pay stub and 3 months of bank statements. Just to make more of a guarantee his dad also provided a letter saying he would support BOTH of us, his pay stubs, and 3 months of financial statements, and a copy of his french ID cards.

- copie du passeport ou de la carte d'identité du conjoint français -- copy of Fiance's passport and ID card

- justificatif de résidence du futur conjoint français (facture électricité..)-- He gave me a copy of an electricity bill

- preuve de préparation du mariage : document de la mairie... -- They Mairie where we will be getting married provided a letter stating that we would be married there once all of the documents were turned in. (they are waiting on my apostille). This letter seemed to be just fine even though we do not have an official date and the banns have not been posted yet.

- assurance voyage valable au moins 90 jours-- This was a quick phone call to my insurance company who provided a letter stating that my insurance was valid in all of Europe for XX amount of money. They sent it via fax to me and that is what I gave the consulate. The guy seemed ok with that. (cross my fingers that it's still ok).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Now I am waiting for the consulate to Email me once Paris reviews my information and approves it or not. Then they will mail me my passport/visa back. I had the option of picking it up, but I live 10 hours away. He said it will take 7-10 days, which I assume are business days, which would make about 2 weeks. We'll see.

Now that I have the paperwork done I am so relieved! It was very stressful trying to figure out the required documents when everything is so vague!

From my experience, I would definitely recommend getting married in France since you already have a plan to go back over there after the holidays. You can mail your required documents to your fiance in France and he can take it to the mairie and get the letter and mail you the documents you need to get the visa.

I am sure I left a few gaps here and there, so feel free to ask and I will clarify any other points or information. Good luck! It is overwhelming at times, but it gets better! :clap2:
 

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A quick note on the apostille. If you do an internet search you will come up with lots of companies that will provide you with the apostille for a document for anywhere from $100 to $400!!! However, the Secretary of State, of the state that issued your document (i.e.- if you were born in S.C. then S.C.) will typically provide an apostilled copy for $2 -$10 and the turn around is quick. I was living in Arizona when I started my paperwork, but was born in Ohio. I sent a certified copy of my birth certificate to the Ohio Secretary of State with their $3 fee and had the document back in a week.

Good luck,

AR
 

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A quick note on the apostille. If you do an internet search you will come up with lots of companies that will provide you with the apostille for a document for anywhere from $100 to $400!!! However, the Secretary of State, of the state that issued your document (i.e.- if you were born in S.C. then S.C.) will typically provide an apostilled copy for $2 -$10 and the turn around is quick. I was living in Arizona when I started my paperwork, but was born in Ohio. I sent a certified copy of my birth certificate to the Ohio Secretary of State with their $3 fee and had the document back in a week.

Good luck,

AR
I would definitely go straight through the Secretary of State and not a company, because they said it had to be signed by the SOS... Mine (from FL) cost 29 for the birth certificate and $10 for the SOS apostille. Look on the department of health/ vital statistics website for the state and that should provide the information and cost. I guess it differs from state and what options are available.
 

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Let me add one note of caution here. It's great to have everyone sharing the list of documents they needed to get married in France, but it is absolutely essential that you get the list of requirements from a. the mairie in which you will be getting married and b. the consulate where you will be processing your visa application.

One of the first things to learn about France is that each office of the administration has its own "discretion" as to what it can ask for, and what's true in one town isn't necessarily true for the next town over.

The certificat de coutume and the certificat de celibat should be obtained in France at the US consulate. Outside of France no one has a clue what these are - and they do have to be prepared in French according to a certain formula. The US consulates in France have the forms and it's by far the easiest way to go, even if it means a trek to Paris or somewhere else to get the darned things.

Some mairies won't insist on an apostille'd birth certificate, but prefer a "certified translation" (which includes validation of the document). The translation costs 40 - 60€ per page but if you're already in France it could be the quicker way to go. If you go apostille, go directly to the secretary of state in your state. Quicker service and much, much lower fees. Here is the US government's page on apostilles: Apostille Requirements

And as far as the consulates go, do check with the French consulate before starting to accumulate the documents for a "long stay visa with a view to marriage" (or whatever it's called these days). Some consulates may not do things this way. We've had some reports of folks (mostly in Australia) who have been told they MUST return to their home country to apply for a long-stay visa AFTER their marriage has taken place in France. To be honest, the process for getting the long-stay visa after marriage (and with livret de famille in hand) is pretty quick and painless - you often don't need all the income and support information. If you're planning on honeymooning back home anyhow, it could save some aggro in the run-up to the wedding.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Hi Lori,

Congratulations on your engagement!

I'm a US citizen and just married a French citizen, in the US...just this month! We are currently in the process of getting our livret de famille from the Boston consulate.

My two cents:

1) As Bev said, if you want to get married in the US, go to the French consulate for where you live, in person, and ask them what *they* need. As she said, each consulate/mairie can differ in what they want from you. Even someone who went to your local French consulate may get a different story than you will get. Take copious notes, and be sure to get that person's name and try to deal with him/her for everything. There is no website, official or not, that is guaranteed to give you the list of documents that you will be asked for at the consulate.

2) As for whether to marry in the US or France; either way, you don't have enough time to get married if you want to move to France legally as a spouse in January. If time isn't an issue, choosing where to marry depends on your patience for document-gathering. You will need many more documents in France, and getting them all, and at the right time, can be a convoluted and frustrating process. However, even if marrying in the US, you will have to do the "publication des bans" at the local consulate *before* the wedding; you'll have to start the process for this a few months before the wedding. One other thing - doing it in the US would likely be cheaper, because most of your documents for a marriage in France will require require official French translations (ex. your birth certificate), and that can get pricey.

Personally, when I saw what a marriage in France would require, I thanked the stars above that we were doing it in the US. A friend of mine got married in France and taking care of the official part was a nightmare (although the wedding itself was awesome!) Even though the publication des bans was a bit of a pain for us, it was much easier than what she had to do. I'm really, really glad we did it here.

All in all, marrying a French citizen is a lot harder than marrying a US citizen, that's for sure! Good luck, though, and again - congratulations! :)

Lili
 

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Congratulations!!!

Just a quick note. I married my French husband in 2009. On a whim he decided that he wanted to go home and stay after being home for the Christmas holidays. Had I know at the time we got married what I know now, I definitely would have waited and married in France. It would have alleviated some, though not all, of the paperwork we are having to wait for, one being the livret de famille, which is the first step in a line of other necessary documents.
 
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