From 90 Days to Forever: How to Stay in France Long Term?
If, like so many of us, you have fallen for the charms of la belle France, you may well find yourself in the position of wanting to spend more time there.
You are allowed to travel to France and stay for up to 90 days in every 180-day period (or roughly six months). However, if you intend to stay in France more often than that or are considering a permanent move, you may need to apply for a long-term visa.
What kind of French visa do I need?
French visas are quite specific and differ from other countries. There’s no “type D” visa, and neither do they offer the “golden” visa, although they do have something equivalent. Instead, France has something specific called the “VLS-TS” (Visa Long Séjour valant Titre de Séjour).
You can apply for this through various different categories, such as an employment visa, a talent visa, a family visa and so forth.
The two most popular types of visa applications in France are:
- The Visitor visa: this is mainly used for people coming to France to retire, for a sabbatical or perhaps a couple of years’ stay.
- The Business visa: this is for those planning to start a business in France and includes those planning to run gîtes as well as businesses such as consultancies, hospitality and catering services and so on.
What do I need to apply for a French long-stay visa?
These two types of visa share many of the same requirements, and as is so often the case, there are two main things that end up being the stumbling block in the application. These are:
- Proof of income
- Medical insurance
The ‘proof of income’ element can be a struggle as it does involve quite a lot of paperwork, but it’s completely manageable if you highlight things properly in your application and make this easy for the agent at the visa centre to read and understand.
For a business visa, the proof of income gets harder as you will need to show a business plan. It is absolutely essential that you produce something credible because you will be expected to have met your projections and forecasts for the first year when you come to renew your visa or apply for a residency permit.
What kind of health insurance policy do I need for my French visa application?
It’s clear that Brexit has taken a toll and has made the entire application process more complicated. It has had an impact on citizens from all countries; for example, the application rules have even been tightened for US citizens.
But we have a solution! And it is even a ‘French administration-proof’ solution! After years of experience as insurance brokers and hundreds of Visa applications, we’ve come to the conclusion that the layout of the insurance certificate is the critical factor that will determine the fate of your application.
Successful applications always have the following elements in common for the medical insurance:
- The certificate shows cover for at least the duration of your VISA, and if this is not possible, or if it ends before the VISA, then the certificate should mention that the insurance policy is scheduled for automatic renewal.
- It mentions that you’re covered for in and out patient benefits (not just hospitalisation).
- The medical cover should be at least 30.000€ (although it’s safer to have at least 100.000€+ as some centres are more picky than others).
- The certificate should not mention any medical exclusions.
- It includes a repatriation plan.
If you fulfil these five requirements and the rest of your file is complete, you will be off to a flying start with your visa application. With your visa in the bag, you will be able to enjoy all that France has to offer, whether that is just for a couple of years or longer term.
One final pro tip!
You need to obtain your insurance documents BEFORE the interview at the visa centre. They’ll expect to see both the certificate of insurance AND the proof of payment. This shows that your policy has been issued and, thus, can’t be cancelled, meaning you’ll be covered from the moment you arrive in France.
Join Fabien, visa expert Richard Hammond from French Connections HCB, and host Zoë Smith, digital editor of FrenchEntrée for this week’s Moving to France: Long-Stay Visa Applications & Health Insurance webinar.
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