Spending Time In France: French Visas, Residency, And Citizenship
There are many factors to consider before moving to a foreign country. Questions such as where to go, how long to stay and what you want to do while you are there, need to be addressed before making specific plans. If you have ever dreamt of a life in France, you may want to begin your research by studying the types of residency allowed there.
French Of Visas
There are three general France types of visas: a short-stay visa, a Schengen visa, and a long-stay visa.
These allow you to stay up to 90 consecutive days or to split up those 90 days over an 180 day period.
You do not need a France visa to stay in France (only) for up to 90 days if you have a passport from the United States of America and you are a tourist, or are there for business or to visit family.
This exemption covers:
• Tourist and family travel (reunions or visiting French relatives)
• Business travel
– Business meetings and conferences
– Training courses and short internships
Short-stay Schengen Visas
To visit any of the countries in the Schengen Area while you are in France, you will need a short-stay Schengen visa—or a “France Schengen Visa.” This visa allows you to visit countries in the Schengen Area of the European Union (EU) including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Long-stay visas allow a residency in France of more than 90 days (typically up to one year) and the ability to move throughout the Schengen Area without an additional Schengen visa. If you can support yourself during your time in France, you will need a long-stay “visitor” visa. If you enter France with a long-stay visa, you are required to register with the Office Français d’Immigration et d’Inégration (OFII) within the first three months to obtain a residence permit.
The French Tech Visa
In January 2017, the French government announced the development of a new French Tech Visa for foreigners living outside the EU with exceptional tech expertise, entrepreneurs in the tech field and venture capitalists willing to invest in French tech firms. Technology companies are doing well in France and employers are finding it more and more difficult to hire qualified employees. The French Tech Visa is designed to foster tech growth and provide talented personnel for the French tech industry.
How To Apply For A French Visa
To apply for a visa, use the term “Consulate General of France” to do an online search. Each Consulate manages a region, and you will need to determine which office is responsible for your state.
Applying for a visa takes two-to-four weeks. It is important to have a plan in place for your trip. Once issued, your visa cannot be modified.
French visa requirements are very specific. Here are some—not all—of them to give you an idea:
• You must travel to your Consulate General’s office to apply for your visa. For example, if you live in Denver CO, you and everyone traveling with you who needs a visa, must go to the Consulate General’s office in Los Angeles, CA to apply.
• Plan ahead! You must make an appointment on their website before visiting the Consulate office. You may arrive up to 30 days prior to your departure. The Consulate recommends giving the process at least 20 days. If there are no appointments available for the day you want to visit the office, check back frequently for cancellations. If you are unable to get an appointment in time, you will have to reschedule your trip. There are no exceptions and no way to expedite the process.
• Each person needing a French visa must make an appointment at the Consulate. In other words, if four people are traveling together, you must make four appointments.
• The Consulate General’s online appointment software does not work with Mac computers or Chrome browsers.
• To complete the process, you will need your passport. Your passport cannot be more than ten years old and must be good for at least three months after your visit.
Permanent Residency Vs Citizenship In France
It can be easier to gain permanent residency in France than you might imagine. Like many countries in Europe, France grants residency to foreigners who can prove they can take care of themselves (that is, pay their own bills and not be a burden on the state).
To be granted a permanent residency in France, you must live there for five continuous years. Certain situations, such as marriage to a French national or obtaining a degree from a French university, can shorten that time. After five years, you will be able to apply for a ten-year, renewable permanent residency.
You may also apply for citizenship in France after that five-year residency. France allows dual citizenship so you can continue to be a citizen of your current country. What are the differences between a residency in France and French citizenship?
Although both give you the right to healthcare, education, and the ability to work in France, only citizenship confers the right to vote and hold public office. In addition, French citizenship automatically includes citizenship in the European Union (EU).
What Are The Requirements?
Obtaining a citizenship in France will require you to complete the appropriate paperwork, pay the fee(s) and undergo an interview to determine:
• Proof of employment or the ability to support yourself (such as retirement income)
• Proficiency with the French language
• An understanding of French culture and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship
Spending an extended period of time in France is an incredible opportunity, but navigating French visa requirements can be a challenge. When you are ready, our best advice is to visit the Consulate General’s website for your state. That website will be able to answer your questions with the latest information and guide you through the process.
The truth is, becoming a resident of this country isn’t necessarily the challenge. The challenge is facing the tax liabilities that can ensue. However, you can plan for and mitigate your tax burden as a full-time foreign resident in France if you get the right help from the start.
Residency in France can lead to a second passport and dual citizenship in this country.