About a year ago, I decided I wanted to move to France. After some research, I decided to apply for the French Long-Stay Visa, a visa for Americans which can be granted for a period of 3 to 12 months. This is a type of visitor visa which does not allow you to work for a French employer, so you must have either enough money to support yourself without working or have an external income stream outside of Europe.

The first thing you should know about the long-stay visa for France is that the application is not easy. You are essentially playing a guessing game and trying to predict what will be acceptable and what you will need that isn’t listed on the website. You must be over-prepared at all times. Whatever the consulate asks for, give them more, not equal or less. I went into this process assuming it would not be straightforward to avoid any disappointment or frustration. I recommend you take the same mindset.

Do not expect that just because you give the consulate what they ask for on the website that you’ll receive the visa.

This is one of the longer articles I’ve written on this site, so I’m going to divide it up into 5 sections for easier reading and navigation:

  1. Preparing My Application
  2. The Appointment
  3. Additional Documents
  4. What I Would Do Differently
  5. Understanding My Visa
Long Stay Visa for France Application

Preparing My Application

2019 Update: Since the time of writing this article, the application process has changed slightly: The French Consulate no longer processes visa applications directly. Instead, applications are processed by a private company called VFS Global. My notes on preparing the documents are still up to date, in any case.

The first step is to find the French consulate in your country of residence (for me, the USA) which will take your application. There are multiple consulates in the US, so you’ll need to find the one that works with residents of your state if you’re American. At that point, you want to look at how far out they have an available appointment. Chances are you’ll have to wait at least a few weeks or months for an appointment. This will give you time to prepare the necessary documents.

It’s impossible to rush the application, so be sure to apply at least 3 weeks ahead of your intended departure date. I made the official decision to move to France in April, scheduled an appointment for June, realized I didn’t have proper apartment documentation, and so I rescheduled for mid-August to make sure I had time to go to France and get the necessary documents. It’s free to reschedule the appointment.

Once I had my appointment, I was ready to prepare my application, which required the following:

Valid Passport – Passports must be valid for 3 months beyond the date of exit. (ie. If I arrive in France on October 1, 2017 with plans to leave on May 1, 2018; my passport must be valid until at least August 1, 2018)

Proof of Residence – Bring a Driver’s License or State ID Card (and 2 photocopies of it in case you need to leave the actual license at the entrance) to prove you live in your consulate’s jurisdiction.

2 Long Stay Application Forms – Pretty straightforward, and you can print them here.

Passport Photo – The consulate website says these should be “pasport size” but guess what? Not the American passport size. They need to be 1,4″ x 1,7″ (3,5cm x 4,5cm). I ended up getting American passport photos printed at Costco and then trimming them down to size with scissors. If you’re in France beforehand just get them done there!

Letter from Employer – If you’re currently employed, you need a letter stating your current title and employment contract date. Since I work remotely for an American employer and my company uses an external HR contracting company, I printed off an employee verification sheet. (The consulate ended up asking for a letter directly from my company instead).

Letter Explaining Purpose of Your Stay – Why do you want to go to France? They want to know! I wrote a one-page letter explaining how I visited France as a teenager and always wished to return to live as an adult. I also named 4-5 specific sites I planned to visit (mostly chateaux, haha) during my time there.

OFII Form – If you’re staying longer than 6 months you need to fill out the top half of this form, which you’ll end up submitting to the immigration office in France upon your arrival.

Finances – I submitted the last 4 months of my bank statements (they require 3 months). They want to see that you have enough money to support yourself during your stay without working or while receiving substantial income from non-French sources. I know in Paris, to get an apartment you need to prove that you earn three times the monthly rent per month. I don’t think this requirement stands in other places, but I’ve read that the consulate wants you to have at least 800 euros in disposable income each month, after you pay your rent. So if your rent is 500 euros, you would need 1300 euros times the number of months you’re staying as a minimum total in your bank account.

Letter Promising Not to Work – I created a simple document saying I will not take up any job in France which requires a work permit, nor seek French clients.

Medical Insurance – Originally I had hoped that my Aetna insurance would cover me in France but unfortunately my plan doesn’t satisfy all the consulate requirements like repatriation (France doesn’t want to pay to ship your body back to the US in case you die). Luckily the consulate provides a few company names which meet their requirements. I ended up choosing IMG Patriot Insurance, but Seven Corners was also a good option, though slightly more expensive. My plan was $345 for one year of coverage – just under $1 per day, although I really don’t get much benefit from this unless shit really hits the fan. 2019 UPDATE: IMG no longer meets the consulate’s requirements. I purchased Mondassur’s Europe Access plan for 468€ and my visa was accepted.

Lodging – You will need to show proof of where you will be staying during the whole time in France, which means a notarized rent contract stating the monthly amount. Unless you’re wealthy enough to own property there, this can prove to be tough for most normal people. I decided to enlist the help of my former host family in France whom I’d kept in touch with over the last 10 years, and use their address. According to to the consulate website, I needed an Attestation d’Acceuil from the mayor’s office to prove this. Of course, it wouldn’t be this simple! I went to France ahead of time to visit the town hall with my host family and they said they couldn’t provide one for stays of longer than 3 months. No luck. I ended up searching Google for what to do, and came across the Los Angeles consulate website which states that you can stay with friends using an Attestation d’Hébergement (essentially a statement welcoming you in writing) along with a photocopy of the person’s passport, taxes foncières, and recent electric bill. I decided to take this route and hope the consulate would accept this. If I didn’t have a host family in France, I’d likely secure an apartment lease ahead of time and gather not only the rent contract, but the passport photocopy of the landlord, and perhaps some tax records or an electricity bill, just in case. You don’t need to pre-pay the entire year but it needs to show your monthly rent amount, and you’ll likely have to pay a security deposit for the place. This is likely the step you’ll have the most trouble with if you’re an American, but it’s a requirement and there’s no way around it!

Processing Fees – The fee to apply for the visa was $115 when I went in August 2017, and you can only pay by credit or debit card. Personally, I’d bring both types of cards as well as cash just in case.

Prepaid USPS Express Mail Envelope – I purchased an overnight, prepaid envelope from the United States Postal Service for the return of my passport. It must be filled out to and from yourself. (The post office may ask for an explanation about this, but they should sell it to you like this) This cost me $23.


Speaking of costs, here is a list of the costs I incurred to apply for this visa, in addition to future fees you should be aware of:

Insurance – $345
Passport photos – $5.50
Overnight Express Mail Envelope – $23
Visa Fees – $115
Fingerprinting – $94
Overnight Express Mail Envelope – $23
TOTAL: $605.50

The Appointment

The day had finally come for my appointment at the consulate in Washington DC. My appointment was on a Monday at 11am so we had no trouble finding street parking on the same street as the consulate.

You have to print your appointment confirmation letter in order to get into the building which I did. I walked up to the entrance about 10 minutes early. The security guard asked for my Driver’s License and said he needed to keep it while I was inside. I said I needed it to prove to them I live in the consulate’s jurisdiction and he said as long as I had a photocopy it would suffice. Luckily I happened to have made a photocopy of my driver’s license – which by the way, is not mentioned on the consulate website! (See what I mean about being over prepared?). I then went through security similar to how it works at the airport, where you place your bag on a belt and then walk through a metal detector.

After getting into the embassy grounds, I needed to walk up a hill to the left toward a gray building where the visa section was. Everyone speaks French and English. Be polite to everyone. The woman directed me into the door to the left where I was to take a number and wait to be called. There were about 4 other girls in the room, all around their 20s. I waited for about 15 minutes before I was called.

The appointment went a little differently than I had imagined. I thought it would be more like a sit-down interview, but it was actually pretty similar to a trip to the bank or DMV. There were four stations where employees met with applicants, and glass walls separated us. Two were in use. You’re standing during the entire thing while the employee is seated behind you on one of those tall desks.

I decided to do the appointment in French, but I heard some others speaking English so I don’t think they will fault you if you don’t speak French.

When I was called to the first station, I met with an older man who wasn’t super friendly (surprise!). He asked for the long-stay form with photo, a copy of my driver’s license, a copy of my passport, as well as my letter of intention (purpose) of staying in France. He took my payment for the visa ($115 via credit card) and finally fingerprinted me and took my photo. At that point, he told me to sit back down and wait to be called again.

5 minutes later, I was called to the second desk. I decided to be friendlier to this guy, as now I was less nervous. He seemed to be my age and was very friendly in return after I greeted him with a smile and a “Bonjour! Comment allez-vous?”

He smiled back to me and after asking me how I was, he asked how long I wanted to stay in France and for what purpose. I said 1 year and for tourism. He then started asking me for the remaining documents (OFII form, my bank statements, my lodging proof, and my insurance). He highlighted certain sections of my documents, and they all seemed to be acceptable. He had his own paper checklist on which he marked off each document as I presented it.

When he asked about my employment, I explained that I work remotely for an American company who has no operation in France nor the European Union. He asked if I was going to continue working for them and I said yes. He asked for a pay slip, which I didn’t have. (Turns out I wouldn’t need this, but it’s not an odd request in my scenario)

After I handed over all the required documents and my prepaid USPS envelope, he said “Hold on one minute while I verify something with my superior.” Of course, by default I assumed this was bad, but he came back around 5 minutes later saying that everything looks good, however they’ll need two more documents to process my application, which I can send by mail.

  • FBI Criminal Records
  • A letter from my employer explicitly stating that I will work remotely (“à distance”)

The FBI Criminal Record I was familiar with and I know this takes some time to order (it’s a huge pain) so I asked him if it was possible to send a police record from Virginia. He then asked how long I’ve lived in Virginia (1 year) and said I could try it.

The employment letter I should have seen coming. I thought the Employment Verification letter from my company’s HR company would suffice, but they wanted a direct letter it seems. Looking back this is super obvious and I should have came prepared.

Luckily, they do allow you to gather the documents they require and send them along without making another appointment. They don’t just outright reject you if you’re missing something. I’ve heard others say they were able to send documents by email, but when I asked the guy there if it was possible, he said no, post is preferred.

Finally, the guy said “You should try to open your company in France!” I smiled and said it was definitely on their radar. He then told me I was lucky to find a remote job and even asked me how I found mine! I said I searched for it online and plus my studies corresponded to the industry and he thought that was very cool. At the end of the meeting, I asked his name (Louis!) and thanked him for his help. He made me a photocopy of the document so I could remember, and off I went!

Additional Documents

Things proved a bit more slow with my company than I had anticipated. I spent around two weeks waiting to hear who exactly the letter should come from at my company. During that time I was researching the FBI Background Check process which apparently you can expedite – for quite a large fee. I decided to get this out of the way on a business trip.

The cheapest way to get your background check is through the FBI, who charges $18 but take 10-12 weeks to fulfill your request. Since I didn’t have that kind of time, I made the request through an approved channeler.

After looking through the links, I came to the conclusion that My FBI Report was the most affordable at $40. Keep in mind the prices listed do not include fingerprinting fees. I looked at a few places to find the cheapest. You want to try and choose a location which offers “Live Scan” capabilities which essentially scans your fingerprints on a screen and submits the prints electronically, resulting in quicker turnaround time. Altogether, I paid $80 plus $14 2-day shipping for a total of $94.

I had my fingerprints taken at a walk-in location on a Wednesday, saw my results online the following morning, and received a copy of the printed results on Saturday. Essentially, I received a basic statement from the FBI stating that I had no criminal record in their database. You can certainly print your results directly from the website (download the PDF right away, as it’s only available for 24 hours), but I opted to receive a tamper-proof copy of the results in the mail, and send that one to the consulate.

I mailed these additional documents exactly two weeks after my initial appointment, on a Monday. I had the envelope shipped overnight to the consulate to hopefully keep things moving as quickly as possible. They received the documents around Noon on Tuesday. Sure enough, I checked the USPS tracking number on Saturday and my pre-paid passport envelope had been delivered that morning.

Ironically I was away for the weekend so I didn’t actually open the package until the following week.

What I Would Do Differently

If I were to go through this process again, I would make sure I didn’t have an employer. Aside from that, there are a few things I could have done to speed up the process:

  • Bring a police record (at least to show them something)
  • Bring a payslip (just in case)
  • Take my passport photos in France

I also completely forgot that I would need a Long-Form Certified Birth Certificate if I get the visa, to present upon arrival in France. So this was another thing I needed to obtain which I had completely overlooked while focusing on preparing the application. I would start this process ASAP if I were to do things over again.

Understanding My Visa

Only my passport was inside the envelope, and sure enough, halfway through the book was a large sicker titled “VISA.” I was ecstatic! My dreams of moving to France were coming true.

About a day later, I realized something wasn’t right. I knew that in order to stay longer than six months in France, I needed to bring the OFII form I had submitted to the consulate with me to the Immigration Office in France upon arrival. I had filled out the top half and the bottom half would be completed by the consulate and sent back to me. This form was missing.

Taking a look at the visa they gave me, the dates appeared correct: October 1, 2017 to October 1, 2018. Under the section “Remarks,” it said: LONG SEJOUR TEMPORAIRE.

I emailed the consulate and they told me that I did have the right to stay 12 months as indicated on the visa, however I wouldn’t be able to renew the visa in France, and that’s why I did not need to visit the OFII.

This turned out to be incorrect, I was able to validate my visa online after arriving in France and renew it one year later.

If you have any questions about your visa, just email the consulate, and hopefully they will be responsive since you already have the visa!

How To Get A Long Stay Visa For France As An American

The French Long Stay Visa saga continues:

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  1. First off, wanted to say a HUGE THANK YOU for sharing all of this! So, so helpful to have a guide. I’m starting the process now (Jan 2024) with the goal of going to France in May/June.

    Wanted to share something here since I’ve just signed up for the FBI background check. The channeler mentioned here (My FBI Report) is now called National Credit Reporting (just FYI). I initially was going to use them, but looks like they no longer offer Live Scan (maybe it’s temporary, because their business name changed, and the Live Scan has to be re-configured?) Either way, no Live Scan locations showed up for NYC (where I live) or for DC.

    Instead I went with National Background Check, Inc., for a total price of $85, all in. With them, I was able to get a next day appointment at my local UPS store.

    And then one question I wanted to ask: if approved, does the visa start on the day that it’s granted, or on the day you arrive in France? I’m just trying to get the timing right, and wouldn’t want to get it “too early” ahead of my intended arrival. Thank you again!

    1. Hi! Great, thanks for sharing this update!

      The visa starts on the day written on the sticker you’ll receive in your passport. This day corresponds to the day you indicate on your application.

      Good luck!


      1. Thank you!! One more question if I may: I’m asking a friend who lives in France to do the Attestation d’Hébergement. Does the Attestation need to indicate a date? So, for instance, if I say on my application that I would like to arrive in France on May 15th, does the Attestation need to say that I am welcome from May 15th, or starting in May, or does it not need to indicate this at all?

          1. I got the visa!!! Had the VFS (the contractor that is now handling French visas) appointment on April 11th and got my passport back yesterday, April 19th, so very quick turnaround.

            Some notes / comments:
            – I did mine without an employer letter (am taking a sabbatical) and with a attestation d’hebergement a friend did for me
            – VFS (I went in New York) is chaotic, but at least once you submit you get almost daily e-mail and text updates about your application, which is kind of nice
            – Now that VFS is handling these, I don’t think they care at all about your intent in getting the visa, beyond the perfunctory. That is — no one is actually interviewing you — my agent barely glanced at my Letter of Intent and asked me no questions. Their task is entirely administrative — make sure all required documents are there and ship it off to the French Embassy in D.C.
            – I did the criminal background check but it’s unclear to me if that was required, since it wasn’t on the required document checklist on France Visas. I submitted it as an “additional document”.

    2. Hi Emily,

      I am surprised to see your reference (dated of January this year) to the FBI background check (mentioned as the FBI Criminal Record in the original article by Victoria) as a part of the required documents for a long-stay visa (VLS-TS) application: I’ve heard from several different people that they (the French consulates) have done away with this requirement, haven’t they?

      Advise please.

      Thank you in advance for your response.


  2. this is unreal for a visitor/tourist visa long term. wow. it’s eye watering the amounts of documents, nonsense, running around,etc.etc… why do they make things so difficult and cumbersome? It’s sad. thanks.

  3. I have been reviewing your blog post about the french long stay visitor visa as I prepare for my upcoming appointment (on Tuesday AHH)! The employment letter is also tripping me up. I work for a small company in the USA as a part-time designer (I have been working remotely all over the world for the last 3 years). I am able to have my COO sign off on a letter but I’m just having trouble finding out how to write it! Are you able to share how your employment letter was written? It would be so helpful I just want to get this step right! It feels like one of the most important parts!

    1. It doesn’t need to be a long letter. Just a few sentences stating the facts: you are employed there, you have a salary, your employment is in good standing.

  4. Is a birth certificate mandatory?

    Have passport and naturalization papers. Is this sufficient documentation for a French long-stay visa?

    Thanks in advance.

  5. Hi Victoria. Do you know if it is allowed to have French clients if I’m self-employed on this long-term visa? For example, can I make a website for a French company, being a Canadian company counterpart, but living in France physically? Seems like that’s not the same as being employed.

    1. The visa terms state that you cannot perform paid work while on the visa, but I’ve heard that some people do things like this. Best to speak with a working immigration attorney!

  6. Thanks Victoria! Just one question for you: I recently purchased insurance through IMG Patriot. What specific information were you given that IMG Patriot is not sufficient?

    Thanks!! Christine

    1. Hi Christine,
      I was not given specific information, I would have included that in the post if that were the case.

  7. Hi Victoria. Once one has lived on this visa / cartes de séjour for five years, will one then obtain a permanent residence card, or will it actually be French citizenship?

    1. After five years, you have the right to ask for a 10-year residency permit. No, French citizenship is not automatically given ever. You would need to apply for it.

  8. Hi Victoria,

    I cannot tell you how thankful I am to have stumbled upon your post here as I’m planning to move to Paris this year and did not know where to start and this post is just exactly what I needed. I felt instant relieved and know now what to do by following your guilds here, step by step. You are such a good writer. I’ve been really enjoying reading your other posts as well. Can’t wait to read them all. So informative!!!

    A quick question, my concern is my passport expires in August 2024, and I’m arriving in Paris this September 1st, 2022 (presuming my visa application for 1 year long stay tourism is accepted and is able to renew for the second year in Paris) and my passport becoming Expire on the second year during my stay in France, what should I do? Do I need to come back to U.S. to renew it?

    Thank you very much and have a wonderful day!

    1. Hi Stephanie! Thanks for the compliments :) Glad you enjoy my writing!

      You don’t need to go back to the US to renew your passport, You can simply sent it to the US Embassy in France who will handle the renewal. See here for more information: https://fr.usembassy.gov/passport-renewal/

      Good luck with your move!


      1. Thank you for the info Victoria! So happy to hear that I can renew it in France. You know something I have been wondering how we have to purchase the airline ticket (is it going to be a one-way ticket?), reserve the apartment all that done before the visa application appointment not knowing if our visa application will be accepted or not. And in my case, I have to sell my property, still don’t know when is the best time to sell it, before the appointment or after? I was thinking if I sell it before the appointment then I have another solid proof of finance to show them on the appointment. What do you think?

  9. Hi Victoria,

    I noticed you said if you had to do this all over again you would’ve not had an employer. Do you mean you would’ve left your employer off your application or gone without work?

  10. Hey Victoria,

    Thanks for all the info! When you requested a letter of employment from your employer directly (instead of the affiliate HR company), who did you request this from? Someone from your HR Team or your manager?

    1. Hi Brianna!
      I requested it directly from the HR manager within my company. It’s just a simple letter confirming your employment. If your company is small, then this could be the Head of Operations or another similar role :)

  11. Hi Victoria! This post helped me SO much in my quest to get a visa and move to France. I’m grateful for the detailed account of your journey. I move to Lyon from DC in 4 days.

    I wanted to ask–are you still living in France? Were there any tax implications for your company (i.e. permanent establishment)? Do you pay French taxes and then get a tax credit each year on your US tax return? Also, have you signed up for the healthcare there? Lots of questions, I know, but I can’t seem to find answers and thought maybe a real life expat would have some insight.

    Thank you so much and happy new year!

    1. Hi Rosie, you should speak with a tax advisor to make sure you’re paying the correct taxes to each country. I did not join the French healthcare system personally.

  12. Thank you for your detailed article, Victoria. My visa has also been approved and the passport is en route to me. My experience with the process was a bit different: I only had to book a place to stay for 3 months, didn’t have to provide a criminal check (maybe they now check it somehow else). I submitted my application as a self-employed individual (remote work as well). Can you please let me know: with this type of visa, is it allowed to register a company in France to be officially self-employed in France, or not?

    1. Hi, you did not include the type of visa you have. Profession liberale allows you to work in France, but visiteur does not.

          1. Thank you. After two years, does it change automatically to that status, or does one need to request it?

          2. You need to submit a request to change it which may be denied or approved. It’s not automatic.

  13. Hi Victoria. Do you know what sort of documents need to be included for “Justificatifs de la situation socio-économique”, which is an item listed in the application form? The bank statement thing comes as a separate item. Is this something related to my employment?

  14. Hi Victoria! Did you receive a VFS-TS or a VFS-T visa? I’m glad to hear that it was possible to renew it, I’m also hoping to renew mine (if I get it). Are you still living in France?

  15. Hi Victoria. I received the checklist today from France-Visas as part of the long-stay visa application (see below) and it looks like a FBI criminal background check is no longer be needed. You may wan to update this in your blog to avoid confusion.

  16. Hi Victoria,

    Thank you for incredibly thorough post. It is so helpful!

    I am hoping you might be able to clarify one thing. What kind of long-term visa did you actually apply for and get? What is it a long-term tourist visa?

    I ask because I am starting the process of applying for a LT French tourist visa, and from what I understand with this kind of visa I would not be allowed to work at all–even if it’s a virtual biz with clients outside of France and if I have zero intention of getting French clients.

    From your post, you were up front about working virtually. While I have enough passive income to reside in France without working, I still want to be able to work in France even if it’s just part time. I my own virtual business and my clients are in the US.

    Any light you could shed would be much appreciated. Thanks again!

    1. Hi Stephanie,
      I got the long-term tourist visa, yes. That’s correct, you are not supposed to work on a tourist visa, but if you don’t have French clients and aren’t taking a French person’s job, then it should not be an issue as long as you keep your finances in the US. Please check with a lawyer as I cannot provide legal advice to you, though.

      1. Wow, this is really blowing my mind, I’m excited you qualified. Everyone I have asked about this visa says that the only way you can be eligible is if you are retired with social security payments, or you have passive income in the form of property. When I posit the idea of applying while having regular monthly income from my remote employer in the US, people bite my freaking head off like I just said I was going to rob the Louvre.

        1. I know it’s super unclear. But just because it worked for me several years ago doesn’t mean it works today. Things change all the time. You are welcome to try as it’s not very expensive to apply. Do you have a lot of savings? I honestly wouldn’t even mention the income and just show bank statements with like $50k in savings and you should be fine. The proof of lodging is a much bigger pain in my opinion if you don’t own property in France.

  17. Hi Victoria! I was wondering if you could clarify further about the letter of employment / from your employer?

    “The employment letter I should have seen coming. I thought the Employment Verification letter from my company’s HR company would suffice, but they wanted a direct letter it seems. Looking back this is super obvious and I should have came prepared.”

    Did this end up being a letter sent directly to you from your employer confirming your employment with them and that it was remote?

    Thank you! Ashley

  18. Thank you for this write-up, it’s super helpful to hear your steps. I am planning to apply for the long stay visa, but may go into Europe on a tourist visa prior to applying (just vacation). Do you know if the tourist visa would affect the long stay visa? Or if I shouldn’t fly into France on the tourist visa so as not to seem like I’m staying there too many times?

    1. You can definitely go on a tourist visa beforehand – it won’t affect the long-stay visa application at all!

  19. Hey Victoria! I’m currently applying for the long stay visa. How long did it take you to get your visa approved? I am applying in NYC, but will be leaving for Mexico approximately 3 weeks later, so I’ll need my passport. Just wondering how long it took — thanks!

    1. If they approve/deny it right away, then it takes less than a week. Mine took 2-3 weeks because they needed more information and supporting documents. Personally, I wouldn’t risk it by booking other travel, but that’s just me. Good luck!

  20. Victoria,
    Thanks so much for your post, it has been very helpful! My husband is going to be attending school in Lyon for a year and I am looking to join him. I was wondering if you could answer a couple of my questions about the visa I would need to go over with him.
    1) Do you know if there is any sort of dependent visa or do I need to apply for the Long Sejour Temporaire visa?
    2) I am currently working but will be quitting my job to go over to France. Do I still need a letter from my employer, or can I skip that document?
    3) My husband and I will be getting a school loan in January to help pay for our stay in France, does the application process take that into account in the finances part or could we get a family member to cosign so we have sufficient funds?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hey Molly!
      Your situation seems pretty unique so I would recommend reaching out to VFS or the French Consulate and trying to get a response. If you don’t hear back, then try to join the American Expats in France Facebook group and make a post there. Perhaps someone has been in your situation before, but I have not so I can’t help you :(
      Best of luck,

  21. Once I get my long term visa, can I travel to other Schengen countries at will? I am reading I can only travel to other countries for a total of 90 days in any 180 day period. But how would France know if I left for another country, since there are no border checks in the schengen countries?

    1. Hey Stephen! Sorry, I cannot answer that for you, I’m really not sure. This post was intended for those who wish to spend their time in France. Good luck with your situation! :)

  22. Hi Victoria,
    Thank you so much for this article. Very helpful as so many other country’s visa processes seem to be extremely complicated, with many hoops to jump through. My wife and I are retired and would like to spend our retirement in southern France. Is there a long term visa for stays longer than one year? Also, what is the process for renewing the kind of visa you received or is that not possible?

    1. Hi James! I’m unsure which visa you would need in order to retire in France for longer than one year. The visa I received was non-renewable. I have heard of others receiving a long-stay visa that is renewable, but I’m not sure what they did in order to secure that. You could always try reaching out to your local consulate directly to see if they can help!


  23. Victoria, this is an incredibly helpful post. Thank you! I’d appreciate your insight on a couple things as I consider how best to approach my own stay in France.
    1) You mention a few times wishing you had done things in France. Is it possible to apply for the long stay visa while in France? Might it makes things more or less challenging?
    2) The visa requirements list only 3 months of health insurance, but you purchased a full year. It’s not at all clear to me why they would only require 3 months. Is there another source of insurance available to people once they’ve been there for 3 months? Did you feel that having a full year of insurance was helpful in getting your visa approved?

    Your insights are very much appreciated. Thank you again!!

    1. Hi Megan! To answer your questions: 1. It is not possible to apply for the visa while in France. You can certainly prepare your application there (like securing a lease, getting your photos taken, etc.) but you need to apply in your country of residence. 2. The requirement when I applied over a year ago was health insurance for the entire duration of the stay. So that’s why I purchased a full year, because that’s the time period I was applying for. I am unsure of the current requirements, so if now the consulate only needs 3 months insurance, then that’s what I’d do :)



  24. Hi Victoria-
    Quick question….we just received our Long Sejour Temporaire visa as well, valid for just under 1 year, without the OFII form. We have been trying to figure out if we need to do anything when we arrive, but keep reading conflicting information. We have emailed the consulate, but they keep referring us to their web page! So my question is, were you required to do anything upon arrival? Thanks for your help!

    1. Hey Shani! I also had the same concern, and no, I never did anything, nor did anyone ask me to do anything upon arrival in France. I also left and came back a few times during the span of the year and border patrol never said anything… Hope that helps! :)

      1. Thank you, Victoria! Good to “talk” to someone who has successfully navigated the visa! Thanks again :o)

        Just as a quick add/tip…we just applied (and received our visa) in Nov/Dec 2018….no background check needed and we just used regular US sized passport photos. The ladies at the VFS application center in San Francisco actually cut them to size. My understanding is that they need to fit the size of the little square on your application form. The new process certainly seems like it is streamlining things…at least based on our experience! :o)

  25. Hey, thanks so much for this info, really thorough well done article, it’s been a huge help.

    I’m trying to move to France for a year with my french girlfriend. I’m a freelancer and I work for myself remotely doing audio work on films (American clients). I’m wondering if mentioning this on my app would make things better or worse? I already can show the minimum amount of funds they want for the year + an affidavit of support, I don’t know if saying that I want to work remotely in FR will be a red flag for them or if it would help?

    your thoughts?

    1. I don’t think this would hurt you as long as you make it clear that all of your clients are American, and not French! I told them I had an American employer and they had no problem with this.

  26. Hi Victoria!

    Just a question as to why you’d need the long form birth certificate upon arrival in France? Also, did you need this for the actual visa application/process? I have my appointment in 12 days and so far I have everything that’s listed here. I am also applying for a long term visa for tourism purposes.

    1. I would have needed a long form birth certificate IF my visa was renewable (which it was not). I’m not sure why exactly, but this is pretty standard anytime you are moving to a new country. I did not need the certificate for the actual application process. Good luck!

  27. Victoria, thank you for this wonderful write-up, it is exactly the information I was looking for. I have one question. Did you have to get any records officially translated, and did any submitted documents require an apostille?

  28. Thanks for all of this information, Victoria. Quick question, could you leave (travel back to US) and be able to return to France during the time period of the LONG SEJOUR TEMPORAIRE visa? I’ve found conflicting information. Thank you!

    1. Hey Merri! Yes, you can :) If I remember correctly, this is one of the questions on the visa application (Do you need multi entry, or something) and this is actually indicated on my visa itself as well.

  29. hey! this is super helpful as we’re also looking to move with our remote jobs at american companies. quick question about taxes – i imagine you’re paying federal taxes; are you also paying state? are you paying any sort of tax in france?

    1. Hey Manuela, Taxes are where things get really tricky. Technically you don’t have the right to work in France with this visa, but I’ve heard that it’s rare for this to be enforced. Since I haven’t spent more than 6 months in France this year, I don’t owe taxes in that country. I’d recommend looking into the “Foreign Earned Income Exclusion” and contacting a tax lawyer for more advice! My colleagues recommended a company called Expat Tax Professionals.

  30. Hi Victoria, thank you SO much for this incredibly helpful post. I also work for a totally remote company and am hoping to apply for the long stay visa. I have two questions – did you have any trouble convincing your company to let you do this? My company is concerned about potential tax implications, though I haven’t found any evidence online that they would pay me any differently or would be subject to any foreign taxes while I’m in France. Also, do you think if your company had operations in the EU or a French office that this would have negatively impacted your chances of securing the visa? Thanks again!!

    1. Hey Lindsey, In the end, my company did have an issue with me moving there, so I had to of course respect that, and not move there full time the way I had planned. You do, in theory, owe taxes if you earn money and spend more than 6 months out of the year in France. I think that it doesn’t matter if the company has EU operations, but if they have a French office, then I would assume that the consulat would want to know why your company isn’t sponsoring your visa. Hope that helps!

  31. Victoria,
    Just wanted to say thanks for this excellent write up. I was approved for the same visa as you! As I am sure you are aware of, the NYC Consulate was like a mystery of what was truly needed, so luckily I had this blog to reference. Thanks again!


  32. Were you expecting a renewable visa and they sent you a temporary non-renewable instead? We apply soon and want to retire in France. Getting a non renewable visa without expectation of one would wreck our plans.

  33. Great article Victoria! Thank you sooo much for this info! I, too, am applying for a long-stay visa for France, and had a question about the requirements. Could you possibly email me?

    Thanks again for all of this info! Much appreciated!!

    1. Hi Matthew, I’m afraid all the information I have to give is located in this post, so I won’t be of much help otherwise. What I can say is that I worried a little too much about each individual requirement. Put together a good dossier and give them a great reason to say “yes!” and you should be fine :)

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