March 27, 2010

Moving To France Tutorial - Part Two

By now you've answered the important question in Part One, Why do I want to live in France?, and you're excited to begin your new adventure.
Now on to the fun part.

Step Two: Find Your French Consulate

Americans cannot legally just jump on a plane, land in France and stay forever without some kind of VISA. There are many kinds - student, au pair, working, internship, the Long Stay Visa for non workers, and the recently created Compétences et Talents card - "You may be granted this card if you are likely to make a significant or lasting contribution, through your skills or talents, to France’s economic development or to its intellectual, scientific, cultural, humanitarian or athletic prestige, and directly or indirectly, to that of your own country."

You cannot apply for a visa once you have arrived in France. It must be done from your home country before you depart.
Here is the French government page with the information to determine if you need a visa.

The French Consulate you work with depends upon the state or area you reside in. Each one has its own set of rules, so don't bother trying to follow those of another Consulate. Get on to their website, make a list of the requirements and paperwork, including translations, photos, etc., and get to work!

Boston - Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
New York - New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Bermuda
Washington DC - Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia
Chicago - North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Wisconsin
Miami - Florida, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, the US Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos
Atlanta - Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi
Houston - Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana
San Francisco - Alaska, Northern California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Northern Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
Los Angeles - Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Southern California, Southern Nevada

When we applied with the French Consulate in San Francisco eight years ago we were neither students, au pairs, doing an internship, nor had we been hired to work in France. Also, the Compétences et Talents card had not been invented yet, so that left us with one choice - the Long Stay Visa - which came with these words of warning: "This visa DOES NOT allow you to work or enroll in courses or studies while in France... As a consequence, the proof of sufficient fundings and assets to support your stay in France without working for more than a year will be crucial to qualify for this visa."
Additionally, the San Francisco Consulate had a "special" requirement that we didn't find on any other French Consulate website - proof that you have at least $1800 a month per couple for expenses. Which we didn't have. So we ignored it and applied anyway. Obviously they ignored it as well when they reviewed our application and issued our visas without this requirement.
By the way, it is now $1800 per month, for each person.

Your homework this week:
Have a look at your Consulate's website and see which visa you need.
Sharpen your organizational skills - you're going to need them!
Start your Visa dossier.
Begin taking French lessons. If you haven't already.

Coming up in Part Three: Finding a place to live in France.

*Please note that the information given here, while believed to be as accurate as possible at the time of writing, is general information only, and no liability can be accepted. Before acting on the information, please ensure that you take expert advice from the relevant authorities. Pin It
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