The Main Reasons Your Long-Term French Visa Application May Fail – You Might Be Surprised!


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The Main Reasons Your Long-Term French Visa Application May Fail – You Might Be Surprised!

When you’re requesting a French visa, you will need to apply via the consulate subcontractor. In the UK, this is generally TLS, and in the US, it is TFS. Do remember that they are there to help, and their aim is to help you complete a successful visa application. The majority of agents are very helpful and will do their utmost to guide you through the process.

Having said that, some applications do get turned down. Whilst it is difficult to generalise as to exactly why this happens, given the many different types of visas and differing individual circumstances, there are some common denominators.

One of the most popular types of visa is the ‘long-term visitor visa’; this visa covers situations such as retirement in France, a sabbatical year or a multi-year stay in France, and there are two main reasons for this type of visa being declined:

1. inadequate proof of income


2. lack of visa-compliant health insurance cover

So, what can you do to avoid your application failing on these points?

Proof of income

To satisfy the income requirements, you will need to show ‘income’ that is equivalent to the minimum wage in France. This is known as the SMIC (le salaire minimum de croissance) and is currently around 1300€ per month. Couples are given a slight ‘reduction’, and if you are applying as a couple, you are required to show means of around 2000€ per month rather than 2600€. Many applicants are in the position of not having a monthly salary as such but instead having various sources of revenue.

Many different sources can be combined, including:

  • Pensions
  • Dividends
  • Rental income
  • Interest from savings

If after combining all these elements, the total is still slightly short of the required amount, there’s no need to panic because any available ‘savings’ will also help you to qualify. These savings must be ‘available’ in terms of liquidity; this means having a property or assets won’t help, but having a savings account that you could withdraw cash from will help you to qualify.

You will need to show savings that could allow you monthly withdrawals that are at least equivalent to the SMIC. Given that savings tend to disappear faster than salaries, the visa centre will often require amounts slightly over SMIC levels for a 12-month period, but as long as you can show you won’t be a burden to the state, you should be able to satisfy this element of the criteria.

Visa-compliant medical insurance

Health insurance coverage can prove slightly more complicated. In theory, a British S1 could be acceptable if you have a state pension. However, securing an S1 before actually becoming resident in France is not possible.

The UK can issue a document that you can use during your interview at the visa centre, which provides “proof that you are eligible for the S1” and although this document is not confirmation that you are covered in France under the S1, it should be acceptable.

If you are not eligible for the S1, you most likely will require a policy that provides cover equivalent to that of the French national healthcare system (la sécu). The France-visa official website clearly states this requirement, but the specifics of the type of policy required aren’t clearly defined, and many applicants only discover that their policies are non-compliant during the interview process.

This means that you will be required to undertake another interview (and yes, you will have to pay again…) as the application will be turned down, but most of the time, they’ll offer another interview instead of a direct rejection.

A fail-safe tip is to ensure the insurance certificate (or COI – Certificate of Insurance) is perfectly clear to avoid the TLS or VFS agent having to dig into the insurance documentation.

Indeed, they generally prefer not to do this, instead simply rejecting the insurance cover and getting you to do the leg work. If you can highlight the parts they want to see, this will make their job easier, and your application is more likely to succeed.

So just, what do they expect to see on the insurance certificate or COI?

  • The coverage date should match the duration of the visa
  • In-patient and out-patient benefits should be mentioned
  • No excess or deductible elements are mentioned (ideally, the policy should state that you’re covered “from the 1st euro,” as the French say
  • Repatriation should be included
  • Cover provided should be atleast 30k cover (100k+ is safer as some centres are more picky than others for completely unknown reasons)
  • No medical exclusions should be mentioned, and one final thing they will expect to see is that you’ve paid for your policy. This means they require “proof of payment” so do make sure you also have this before your meeting at the visa centre.

If you comply with these requirements, your application should go smoothly, and the last thing you will need to do is remember to activate your visa once you are in France at the OFII.

Pro tip:

Some policies are systematically declined, and these include travel insurance, Schengen insurance, repatriation plans, policies with any type of excess (such as deductible elements, co-pay or co-insurance) and emergency-only plans.

So, what’s next?

Although there isn’t much you can do about your financial situation, you can definitely make sure your medical insurance complies with what they expect at the visa center. Finding the right policy can be challenging, but some insurance brokers are focused on providing visa-compatible policies.

Here at Fab Insurance, we’ve been helping the English-speaking community relocate to France and other countries in the EU since 2015.

If you’re looking for the best plan in your situation, you can use our online calculator, which will only display options that have been battle-tested with other customers in the same situation/age band & medical situation as you, so try us out or give us a call to discuss your options!

We look forward to helping you out!

Fabien is the founder of Fab Insurance, an independent insurance broker dedicated to helping the English-speaking community in France, Spain and Portugal since 2015.
Tel: +33 (0)5 33 06 29 78

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