There are many variables for non-EU citizens applying for residency in France. These depend on the purpose for stay (employment, study or retirement), duration of planned stay, available finances and many other factors. Details on application requirements are available from the French Embassy in the home country.
Non-EU individuals and families intending to move to France must apply for a long stay visa (visa long séjour) prior to leaving their home country. The long-stay visa (visa long séjour) is issued for a stay exceeding three months in France and it is mandatory to have this visa in order to apply for the first temporary or residence card.
Any non-EU/EEA national planning to be in France longer than three months must apply for a long stay visa valid for a holiday (visa long séjour visiteur), employment (salarié), study (étudiant), or private and family life (vie privée et familiale) if moving in with an EU family member. A non-EU national may only apply for temporary residency or a residence permit in France if they have already been granted a long stay visa.
Visas can only be applied for at the French Embassy of the non-EU national's home country before departure.
Résidents de longue durée - CE: The rules are slightly different for non-EU nationals who have been long-term residents of another EU country (Résidents de longue durée - CE). A third-country national who has resided legally in an EU country for a minimum of five years, need not apply for a visa long séjour and may make their residency application at the Préfecture within three months of their arrival in France.
There are four types of residence card:
French Embassies and local departments of OFII (Office Français de l'Immigration et de l'Intégration) are taking on some of the processing of applications for temporary residency of up to one year. The temporary residency is kept in the passport (a separate residency card is not issued) and required additional certificates issued by the OFII office. Details are available from the French Embassy.
Newly arrived foreigners may be requested to be tested on their French language skills (written and spoken). If it's not found to be satisfactory, lessons are required.
Once in France, foreigners over 18 years of age who hold a valid visa may apply for residency. Application should be made two months before the expiry of the visa at the local Préfecture, Sous-Préfecture (or the Préfecture de Police if in Paris). The application should be made in person.
Note: In some départements, the Prefect may decide that applications for residence permits are submitted to the police or the town hall in the place of residence, and that certain categories of applications may be sent by post. Locally relevant information is available from the Préfecture.
Documents required for the application include:
It is recommended to take the documents, in original form, with two photocopies of each item.
There is a fee payable for the application; the price depends on the type of permit being applied for.
Additional documents specific to an application:
Requirements vary depending on the particular situation of the applicant. Initial advice can be sought from the French Embassy in the home country. Information will also be available from the Préfecture or OFII. Documents required will include:
Once an application has been made, the applicant will be given a temporary receipt (récépissé). This is valid for three months and can be renewable. It permits stay in France while the application is being processed. Notification is be sent by post; if successful, take the notification and the récépissé to the governmental office specified (Préfecture or sous-préfecture) in exchange for the plastic laminated Carte de Séjour.
The period of validity will depend on various factors concerning employment and study arrangements or family status.
Similar documents are generally required for a renewal as for the original application.
Residence permits may be renewed via the Mairie by submitting the paperwork there, or at the Prefecture. This depends on the applicant's location and on the type of residence card. It is recommended to inquire at Mairie in the town of residence before taking further steps; the Mairie may be able to supply a detailed list of documents required.
Also required are:
This can be done at the Prefecture and should be a same-day service.
Documents required are:
A sticker showing the new address is placed on the card. A new Carte de Séjour is not issued; the original is kept until it expires.
Go to the Commissariat overseeing the new address. Take:
A declaration of change of address is issued; a new Carte de Séjour is not issued, the original is to be kept until it expires.
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