Before our wedding in 2017, my (French) husband and I were in a long distance relationship between the US and France. Six months before my planned arrival in France, I applied for a French Long Stay Visitor visa, which would allow me to legally live in France for up to 1 year, with an option to “upgrade” to a spousal visa and/or residence card after our civil wedding.
Here’s how I applied and got approved for my french long stay visa
The application process
I applied for my French Long Stay Visitor Visa at the Los Angeles French Consulate while I was living in Los Angeles.
I recommend double checking the instructions on the French Consulate Website in the city you are currently living in and will be applying for your visa. There might be some differences in what is required from city to city.
what you’ll need to apply
- Original Passport: (make sure your passport has at least two blank pages, it must be valid for at least 3 months after your return to the US and also needs to be delivered less then a year ago.)
- Proof of residency in your consulates jurisdiction: I provided my California ID as well as an electric bill with my name and address.
- Processing fee: I was charged a processing fee of $100- The visa department will only accept visa or master card.
- Application form: Make sure you indicate your departure date as well as the number of months you wish to stay in France.
- Passport photograph: I got these done in a passport photo booth for just $5 bucks.
- Long Stay or Temporary Stay form: Make sure you check off the right choice that applies to you, long stay and temporary stay are different.
- OFII (this form is in French): Since going through the process in 2017, there have been some changes made to this process. While I had to complete an OFFI form, it seems today’s applicants will need to complete a CERFA form. Check out the official French Visa website for more details.
- Statement of Purpose: I provided about a page long statement of purpose. At the top of the page I provided all of my passport information: Full name, passport number, date of issue, date of expiration, authority, date of birth, and place of birth. I also included the date and began the statement with “To the honorable consul Embassy of France”.
Here is some additional information I provided in my statement of purpose…
- Dates of planned/desired stay in France-Short story about our relationship and future plans.
- Explanation about why this visa is needed.
- Plans during 1 year stay (example: planning the wedding, learning the language)
- Table of contents for the documents that would be found along with the statement of purpose and the order. Had the document notarized on the last page.
- Proof of financial means: The French consulate basically wants to know that you have enough money to take care of all your financial needs during your stay without participating in any unauthorized work. I wasn’t able to define the exact amount of money I would need in order to be approved, so just to be safe I provided as much financial proof and security as possible.
Here’s a list of the documents I provided for this section of the application…
- Last two monthly bank statements showing my monthly balance as well as proof of the means in my savings account.
- My now husbands last 2 monthly bank statements along with his professional working contract which showed his yearly salary for the last two years.
- Proof of travel insurance abroad: I bought travel insurance with Insubuy for a total of $400. The plan I got offered coverage of 50,000 with no deductible (this is exactly what is required for your application).
- Proof of accommodation in France: My now husband provided his apartment lease and rental agreement signed by both parties, a copy of a recent utility bill with his name and address, and a copy of his french ID. We also provided an official invitation from my husband inviting me to France with a little back story on our relationship and future plans as well as his promise to provide financial support as well as housing during my stay.
- A self addressed FedEx air bill and envelope: I went to the FedEx print and ship center nearest to me and showed them what was written on the french consulate website just to be sure I got exactly what I needed. They provided me with a self addressed envelope and sticker to put on the envelope so the visa department could mail the passport back to me.
Book your Visa appointment
Once you’ve gathered all of your required documents (and made copies), you’re ready to book your visa appointment on the official French visa website.
You can make your visa appointment at least 1 month before your planned departure date.
Frequently asked questions
When will I know if my visa it is approved or not?
The French consulate website states that you will get your approval within 14 days of your appointment. However, week after my appointment, I received a FedEx envelope at my front door with my passport that had my French long stay visa in it along with the photo that was taken during my visa appointment.
Do I have to buy a plane ticket beforehand?
I purchased my plane ticket to France before starting the application process and included the proof of purchase in my documents (even though it wasn’t listed as needed).
Can you change the dates of your stay after your application has been turned in?
No, once your visa application is turned in you cannot make any changes. If you do need to make changes, you will have to resubmit a new application.
Is the application fee refundable if the visa is not approved?
No, unfortunately you lose your money if you aren’t approved.
I hope this was helpful for you! My husband and I had the hardest time applying in 2017. From that moment, I told myself I was going to do anything I could to help make it easier for others in a similar situation.
If you have any additional questions, please leave a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One response to “How I got my French Long stay visitor visa”
thank you so much this was so helpful, happy to see we are not the only ones struggling with this!!!! xo