France Long Term Visa Process-Updated 2018

I wrote a VERY long-winded post last year about the process for obtaining a long-term visa. Well, I applied for another this year and I garnered a bit of new information about  the process as well as the document requests. So, I have a few suggestions:

(1) You can use my previous post as a guideline but the process seems to keep evolving so do NOT assume everything I said is true for the current year or upcoming years.

(2) It is imperative that you to go to the website for the French Consulate Office that handles the jurisdiction for your home address in the USA. You cannot live in New York and then just because you are visiting San Francisco think you can have an appointment at the San Francisco Consulate Office because it happens to be convenient for you at the time or that the office you are supposed to go to doesn’t have an appointment available but another office does.  Here is an example of what states the San Francisco Consulate Office has jurisdiction over:

https://sanfrancisco.consulfrance.org/spip.php?article372

(3) The various French Consulate Offices in the USA have similar requirements but they still seem to vary on some of the documents, so only pay attention to the documents required from the Consulate Office that covers your jurisdiction. For instance, the amount of medical insurance you are required to have may be different from one Consulate Office to the next.

(4) Under almost all circumstances, you have to make an appointment on their website and cannot receive a long-term visa without an appearance at the designated date and time of your appointment at the French Consulate Office. This has a lot to do with the necessary fingerprinting they require of you. So, that also means if you are a couple planning to go, you both have to show up for the appointment and may even need to make separate appointments.

(5) Once on the French Consulate Office website applicable for your jurisdiction, you need to follow ALL the necessary steps they require to process your application. Make duplicates of all required documents. Do not skip any required documents–be it international medical insurance, passport photos, statements regarding finances, and so on. (At my appointment this year, I overheard a couple discussing their application and their missing required documentation. They ultimately figured out they did not have time for a return to the French Consulate Office before they were departing. So, they  had no choice but to make alternate travel plans.

(6) And, yes, they do keep your passport because they have to secure the visa on a page inside your passport. They have directions on their website to follow regarding what to do to have them mail your passport back to you, in case you do not want to return to their office to pick it up, after they have completed their application process.

(7) I did find out this year that if you are not interested in extending your long-term visitor visa past the time limit of your acquired visa limitations, you do not have to go through the steps of arranging an appointment (mine was medical last year) at the OFII (French Office of Immigration and Integration) office, once you arrive at your destination in France. But, who knows, that may change. So, always check!

(8) Calling the office tends to not work. In fact, sometimes there is a notice on their website stating they are too busy and do not take phone calls!

They do offer a system to email them with questions but they require certain information to be included in that email before they will even take the time to answer it.

Dates leading up to summer and through the summer, I have found, are so busy for the San Francisco office that they have no appointments available. Go on their website and check several times a day to see if a date/time opens up. Plan ahead but I believe they will only allow your appointment to be set up within 90 days of your departure time. Don’t take my word for this. See what their latest restriction are on this one.

(9) And, yes, it is a Catch 22. You have to show them a copy of your plane ticket for departure, including a return ticket. On the one hand that makes sense, but, on the other hand, what if you are not able to obtain the long-term visa in time for your departure? Or, maybe the return date cannot be booked for a number of reasons. This year I had a return date but I wanted to change it once I knew more about my travels for the year. I gave them a letter of explanation document telling them my reason for wanting to change my return date and they accepted it.

Yikes! I am on my 4th long-term visa to France. I have never been turned down but then I cross my T’s and dot my I’s!

(10) Part of the change from last year is that they now have a system on their website that leads you through what type of long-term visa you need to apply for and then it spells out the necessary documents they require.

(11) With the San Francisco Consulate Office, they did not mention needing an extra copy of each document but I had them anyway, just in case, as that was always a requirement in the past.

(12) I believe they are more computerized and have some Schengen relationship more so than before in regards to their long-term visa process but it was unclear exactly how their involvement influences the way French handles their application process.

Yikes! I am on my 4th long-term visa to France. I have never been turned down but then I cross my T’s and dot my I’s!

 

 

 

 

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