With a population of approximately 67 million, France is home to citizens from Italy, Spain, UK, Croatia, Romania, Germany, and former French colonies in North Africa, just to name a few. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in France oversees the immigration activities in this country, such as visas, temporary or permanent residence, French citizenship, and many more. Being the largest country in the Western part of Europe, and a founding member of the European Union, France hosts a large number of companies and foreign investors from all over the world. People interested in immigrating to France can solicit the legal advice of our team of immigration lawyers in France. Our experts are here to guide you throughout the entire France immigration process, starting with the visa application and ending with the application to obtain French citizenship at a certain point.
Who needs a visa for France?
First of all, EU citizens do not need a visa to enter France, compared to individuals from non-EU/EEA countries. Citizens from French colonies do not need to apply for a visa for France. Citizens from Canada, Costa Rica, Andorra, Argentina, Brunei, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Argentina, Croatia, Ireland, Honduras, Bolivia, Chile, Guatemala, Hong-Kong, Macao, Japan, New Zealand, El Salvador, Malaysia, Nicaragua, South Korea, Switzerland, Saint Martin, Panama, Uruguay, the USA, Paraguay, Venezuela, and Singapore can enter the French Overseas Departments or Regions (DOM) without a visa, and stay for approximately 3 months. It is important to know that different visa policies apply for French Overseas Departments or Regions, French European Territory, and French Overseas Territories.
A short-stay visa for France is available for 90 days, foreigners having the possibility of switching this type of visa for a longer stay in the country. In this article, our French immigration lawyer mentions the main requirements for making this change.
Non-EU/EEA and Swiss nationals as well as those from other states do not need a visa to remain in the country for more than 90 days. However, foreign nationals who do wish to stay over this 90 day period can apply for a long-term visa that suits their needs. There are several long-stay visa categories and our French immigration lawyer lists these below:
- Extended stay visa: this is issued for an extended tourist stay or for other personal reasons when the duration of the stay exceeds 90 days;
- Professional activity long-stay visa: for entrepreneurs who are in France to take care of professional or business activities; they can use this visa to start a self-employer activity or engage in a liberal activity; the visa is also available for employees and it is suited for those who wish to follow a professional course after they have finished their training period (among other reasons); doctors or teachers, as well as others, must meet certain criteria;
- Study long-stay visa: this is useful for those students who have been accepted for university studies or those who are part of an exchange program;
- Family reunification long-stay visa: this can be a suitable option for France immigration if you have a family member who is already settled in France, you can join them using this visa; the family member needs to be French, an EU/EEA national, or a foreign national who resides in France.
Supporting documentation is provided for each of these types of long-term visas. Our French immigration specialists list below some of the most important documents required for visas.
For a better understanding of visa policies in France, you should get in touch with one of our immigration lawyers in France. Here is an infographic about how to immigrate to France:
Documents for French visas
The France visa application form is among the necessary documents for obtaining the entrance permit in this country. The following papers and forms will also be part of the French Visa application, mentioning that our French immigration lawyer can provide complete support and legal advice:
- A travel visa insurance with a minimum coverage of EUR 30,000 available for France and Schengen Area is needed.
- The purpose of your stay in France needs to be comprised of a cover letter.
- A valid passport for at least 3 months beyond the return date is a mandatory condition.
- The proof of civil status, such as marriage certificate, death certificate of spouse or birth certificate of children can be solicited.
- The proof of accommodation for your stay in France is required, alongside proof of personal funds for living in this country.
In the case of foreigners who accepted a job in France, additional documents are solicited by the French authorities, like the employment contract, the Certificate of Income Tax, a letter from the employer, and the bank statements for the past 6 months. The same thing is available for sole traders in France, with the mention that they must provide the business license.
Long-term visa to residence permit
Foreign nationals who have entered France under a long-term visa are subject to a number of administrative requirements. This means that they need to turn their long-stay visa into a residence permit if they wish to remain in the country for France immigration purposes.
The long-stay visa can be the equivalent to a residence permit (VLS-TS) and for this to be the case, the VLS-TS holder will need to validate this document within three months from arriving in the country. Failure to do so will prohibit him or her to legally remain in the country or re-enter the Schengen area. The information generally required for this purpose includes the visa details, the entry date, the residential address in France and the payment proof for the issuance fee for the appropriate residence permit. Individuals who wish to remain in France after their VLS-TS permit expires must apply for a residence permit with their local prefecture within two months before the expiry date of the long-term visa.
Another form of long-term visa for foreign nationals in France is the one that clearly indicates that it should be exchanged for a residence permit within the prescribed time. This change must take place within two months following the arrival date and it is performed with the prefecture in the area where the foreign national lives. Those who live in Paris will need to go to the Police headquarters. The exchange is performed in person and the applicant is asked to provide supporting documents (in original and copy). A stamp tax may apply. Our French immigration lawyer can give you more details on how to apply and the documents that are required. We can provide complete assistance, especially for those foreign nationals who are still having certain issues with the language barrier.
Observing the long-term visa limitations as well as the requirements to apply for or exchange this visa for a residence permit is essential for those who wish to remain in the country indefinitely.
For most foreign nationals, the goal is to obtain a residence permit in France that will be renewed. If you need complete details about France immigration process, please feel free to talk to our experts.
The integration process
Those who are interested in France immigration should know that their relocation process starts well before their arrival in the country. As outlined in this article, there are a number of types of visas, each intended for a certain purpose of stay, and beyond their permitted duration the holder will need to observe the requirements for obtaining and renewing a residence permit as needed. During the foreigner’s stay in the country, which is permanent for most immigrants, they will need to concern themselves with the residence permit renewal until they can apply for citizenship.
The post-arrival steps include individual integration. For this purpose, the foreign national will visit the French Office of Immigration and integration for a personal interview during which the Republican Integration Contract will be presented and signed. By signing the agreement, the foreigner is obliged to go through an integration process (this is a personalized done). The agreement has a duration of one year and during this time the state offers support for settlement. Our French immigration lawyer can give you more details.
Civic training is undertaken within the first year after settling in France and participation is mandatory. The subjects include the principles and values of the French Republic as well as the procedures for accessing employment and entitlements. The foreign national also undergoes a language test for the purpose of having his or her level of France evaluated and if the test reveals a skill lower than A1 (according to the Common European Framework of Reference) then he/she will receive mandatory language lessons (50, 100 or 200 hours).
Those who meet the requirements of the individual integration process can apply for a multi-year residence card.
How can I obtain permanent residence in France?
The French permanent residence can be obtained by foreign citizens who already lived in France for more than 5 years. However, if you are married to a French citizen, you can apply for permanent residence even faster, after 3 years of living in France. The permanent residence permit in France allows foreigners to live in the country for up to 10 years if you obtain the “carte de resident”, issued by the French authorities. In the case of EU/EEA and Swiss citizens who lived for more than 5 consecutive years in France, they can apply for permanent residence without providing information about the incomes gained. You can talk to our immigration lawyers in France for comprehensive details and for assistance in obtaining French citizenship.
Company relocation in France
Foreign investors who want to relocate their companies or businesses in France may do so under the rules of the French Commercial Code. France is one of the most appreciated business destinations in the world, being home to large companies in most of the important and prolific sectors. The requirements for relocating to France can be explained by our immigration lawyers in France. Here are some facts and figures about immigration in France that you might find interesting:
- Around 6.5 million immigrants were registered in France in 2018;
- Approximately 110,000 foreign citizens acquired the French nationality in 2018;
- Around 3 million foreigners had a valid residence permit in France, as revealed by the statistics of 2018;
- There are approximately 67 million citizens living in France, according to statistics of 2019.
Do you need information about how to immigrate to France and about the legal process? Would you like to apply for a French visa? Interested in relocating to France? Feel free to contact our team of immigration lawyers in France and ask for legal advice.