In 2017, I followed my heart to join my now husband in France to start our lives together!
Before getting married, I applied for and obtained a French long-stay visitor visa.
Here’s how I did it!
Before our wedding in 2017, my husband and I were in a long-distance relationship while I was living in Los Angeles and he was living in France. Upon my arrival in France, we researched all visa options possible, and through that research, we found the best option for me was the French long-stay visitor visa. The French long-stay visitor visa would allow me to stay in France legally for up to a year with the option to change my visa to a spousal visa and/or residence card once we were married.
The entire visa process was very difficult to go through. We had a ton of questions, and it felt like there wasn’t enough information out there for our specific case. My husband and I really felt like we didn’t have a lot of direction and support. So my hope is that by sharing our experience, you will be able to gain some reassurance in your application process and hopefully find the answers to any questions you might have.
At the time, I was living in Los Angeles so I made sure to follow the guidelines listed for my particular city on the Los Angeles French consulate website. This website was helpful in giving an understanding of each document that is required to apply.
What is a French long stay visitor visa?
The French long-stay visitor visa allows visa holders to reside in France for more then 90 days and up to 12 months.
Everyone needs a visa in order to stay in France over 90 days unless you are a citizen of the following countries: Andorra, Austria, Estonia, Ireland, Monaco, Slovakia, Slovenia, Italy, Finland, The Netherlands, Latvia, Norway, Germany, Belgium, Bulgaria, Great Britain, Liechtenstein, Poland and Sweden.
If you are not a citizen of the countries listed you will require a visa.
When should I apply for my visa?
My best advice is to start planning for your trip and visa application as early as possible!
You can apply for your visa no earlier than 3 months before your departure date.
So, I suggest once the 3 months before your departure date hits, start the application process right away!
What do I need for my visa application?
As listed on the Los Angeles french consulate website here are the documents you’ll need to apply for your visa. I provided my documents according to the Los Angeles french consulate website, but please make sure you follow the list on the website that applies to you as there are small changes in documents needed depending on where you are in the US.
- Provide all original documents: Make AT LEAST one copy of everything ( I made two of everything just in case), the visa department will not make any copies for you.
- 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 consulate’s jurisdiction: I provided my California ID as well as an electric bill with my name and address.
- Processing fee: I was charged $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, I’ve been able to use individual photos for multiple things, having a few of these laying around has come in handy! (Standard passport photo size)
- 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, I had my husband help me fill this out. It’s not too hard to understand but make sure you use a translator to make sure it is filled out correctly or have some help. All you need to complete is the upper half of the form.
- Statement of Purpose: I provided a page-long statement of purpose. At the top of the page I provided all of my passport information- My 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” In the statement I gave the dates of potential stay in France as well as a short back story on our relationship and our future plans and reasoning for my visit to France. I also included my plans during my stay. Attached to the statement of purpose I included a table of contents for the documents that would be found along with the statement of purpose and the order. I also had my statement of purpose notarized on the last page.
- Signed letter promising not to engage in any paid or commercial activity while in France: This was pretty straightforward, I typed up a letter that stated I would not participate in any paid or commercial activity signed it, and had it notarized.
- Proof of financial means: This is where it got a little tricky, we were unsure of what was going to be considered “enough money”. 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 was unable to dictate 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.
- My last two months bank statements showing my monthly balance as well as proof of the means in my savings account.
- My husband’s last 2 monthly bank statements along with his professional basketball contracts providing his yearly salary for the last two years.
- My husband’s parents were gracious enough to help us through this process just to make sure we were completely covered and we provided their last 2 monthly bank statements as well.
- Proof of travel insurance abroad: I bought travel insurance with Insubuy for a total of $400-50,000 with no deductible, which is exactly what is required for your application.
- Proof of accommodation in France: My husband provided his official 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 (financial proof attached).
- A self-addressed FedEx airbill 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.
When you are ready to make your appointment make sure you triple check that you have ALL of your paperwork in order, (even at times when I thought I had everything complete there was still something missing) you will eliminate stress by taking your time through this process and not rushing if you prepare well in advance.
I bought myself a folder big enough to fit ALL of my paperwork inside so I could keep myself organized.
In separate sections, I had my documents and my husband’s documents.
Once you have all your paperwork in order, it is time to make an appointment at your French consulate!
Every visa applicant must apply in person and must make an Appointment on the French consulate website designated for your state.
When will I know if my visa is approved or not?
According to the French consulate website, it states that you will get your approval within 14 days of your appointment. My husband and I began the countdown the day I left the visa office thinking we had to wait an entire 14 days. Surprisingly a week after my appointment, I received a FedEx envelope at my front door. Confused as to why it had come so early I quickly opened the envelope to find my passport and OFII form inside. Inside of my passport was my French long-stay visa along with the photo that was taken during my visa appointment!
I was approved and off to France to be with my love!
Additional Visa Related Questions:
Do I have to buy a plane ticket beforehand?
I purchased my plane ticket to France beforehand and provided the reservation along with my documents even though it wasn’t listed on the consulate sight.
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 any changes were necessary you would have to resubmit a new application.
Is the application fee refundable if the visa is not approved?
No, the application fee is non-refundable.
I hope this was helpful for you all! Please leave me a message in the contact section if you have any additional questions, I would love to try and help as best as I can!
I also did a video about this on my youtube channel as well if you are interested in watching! Here is the link: How I got my French long stay visa
Check out my next post on how to validate your French Long Stay Visa upon arrival in France.