There's a lot written about getting a visa and carte de séjour for France, but very little about my situation and nothing about the attitude you get during the application process. If you're married to (or the under-21 child of) an EU citizen and move to France, don't apply for a visa in your home country. Within two months of arriving in France, petition for a carte de séjour pour membre de famille d’un ressortissant Européenne. The prefecture for the 7éme is 1 Rue de Lutece, 75004 Paris. No appointments are scheduled- just show up with your EU relative, wait in line, and speak French.
At the prefecture, you'll receive a récépissé de demande de titre de séjour. This temporary document allows you to stay legally in France while your application is processed. Remember, these people withheld new episodes of Koh-lanta for a season, so don't hold your breath. If you don't hear anything after four to six months, depending on the validity of the récépissé, renew the receipt and apply again. Here are the documents you'll need (different requirements apply to Croatians):
First card application
Renewal of cards issued less than 5 years
Identity card or valid passport
Proof of family relationship (marriage certificate, family book ...)
Proof of family ties
Proof of right to stay in France (employment contract or proof of financial resources- pay slips, tax assessment, bank account contract)
Proof of right to stay in France
Three 35x45mm photos (no glasses)
After five years legal residency, you may apply for EU citizenship. The price for a carte de résidence is 260€ (UPDATE 2016: it increased to 340€! Cray cray), which logically cannot be paid with real money. The only currency accepted are stamps (les timbres fiscaux), available for purchase at tabacs.
Spouses of French Nationals
Apply for a visa at the appropriate consulate in your home country. Application is free. Required documents include:
- Original passport or travel document with a copy of the identity pages. Your passport must have been issued less than 10 years ago, be valid for at least three months after your return to the US, and have at least 2 blank visa pages left.
- One completed and signed application form.
- One passport photo, 35x45mm, glued/stapled onto the application (white background, full face, no glasses, no hats, closed mouth, no uggos)
- Proof of marriage: family book "Livret de famille" (+ one copy) and copy of French marriage certificate less than 2 months old
- Proof of spouse’s nationality: National identity card or consular registration card or ampliation du décret de naturalisation ou réintégration of your French spouse (originals + one copy)
- One completed residence form (upper part only)
- A self-addressed prepaid express mail envelope from the USPS.
Once you have your visa (it takes 21 days-two months, depending on nationality), you need to apply at the right prefecture. Paris-bound expats, click here and scroll down, then enter your postal code for locations. You'll need a certified marriage certificate and certified translation, proof of joint finances and joint living arrangements (utility bills and bank statements work best), and proof of health insurance. All documents must be less than three months old. Afterward, OFII will summon you for a required free medical examination. Two months before the expiration of your card, apply for renewal by making an appointment here. Bring your residence permit, proof of marital status, national identity cards for your spouse and dependent children, proof of address, and three passport photos.
After registering through Campus France, follow email instructions before making a consular appointment. Once you make an appointment and submit an application, allow two weeks to receive your visa. You'll need:
- Original passport or travel document and copy of identity pages.
- Proof of residence in the geographic area for which the consulate is responsible: lease or rental agreement, notarized statement from owner or leaseholder, plus a recent utility bill and driver’s license with copy or valid student ID card (or a statement issued within the past 2 months from the registrar of your university), from within the consulate’s jurisdiction.
- Processing fee of €50 ($61 USD).
- One completed, signed application form.
- One passport photo
- "Attestation" from CAMPUSFRANCE: E-mail message from CampusFrance telling you to apply to the consulate for the visa
- Receipt for payment issued by CampusFrance
- Proof of French school registration with full address and contact information
- Financial guarantee: Non-scholarship students must provide bank statements showing a balance of at least $820 per month, multiplied by the number of months to be spent in France, or notarized financial guarantee form signed by a guarantor declaring that the guarantor will provide the student applicant with at least $820 per month, plus the guarantor’s most recent bank statement. For students receiving scholarship and financial aid, bring a letter of scholarship award specifying amount / duration, issued by the financial aid office of your home institution.
- The French immigration (OFII) form for students staying in France for more than six months, students who want to work, or students who might extend their visa
- An airline reservation showing date of departure or a handwritten and legible statement from the applicant indicating the intended date of departure, as well as a formal commitment not to depart before that date (you can't change the start date of the visa once the application is made).
- Self-addressed prepaid express mail envelope from the USPS
You won't need a residence permit unless you don't receive a long-term stay visa. The card costs €77 in stamps.
Allow one month for application processing. In addition to an application form, residence form, passport, photo, and self-addressed stamped envelope, complete this questionnaire, a letter explaining what you intend to do in France, a letter promising not to work in France (signature certified by a notary public), letter of employment in the US stating occupation and earnings, proof of income (bank statements, investment certificates, pension slips), proof of medical insurance ($0 deductible required, the consulate says "recommended" but it's always required), marriage certificate, birth certificates for children, child school enrollment, proof of accommodation in France (title deeds, lease or rental agreement), and a processing fee of $121 (they accept cash and credit cards). Bring four copies of each document and make sure they are no more than three months old. You may apply for a residence card at the prefecture if you prove a monthly income of €1138.17 per person per month, but this will not allow you to work in France. Bring your passport, marriage certificate, visa, proof of financial resources, proof of address, and three passport photos. The cost, payable in les timbres fiscaux, is €260 (€106 to renew).
I'm not going to bother explaining the work visa because most employers handle it and writing this post is already so boring. This should only be my second time doing all this, but in reality it's the fourth or fifth so I'm kind of an expert. I have a new respect for what my grandparents did when they came to the US during the Korean War, and I've only an inkling of what they went through. I can't imagine what it was like for immigrants before the widespread use of computers, mostly because I can't imagine the process being any slower or more complicated than it is now.