French Residence Permits The Ultimate Guide by Experts | GCS

Being one of the European Union’s leading countries with a booming economy, France is praised for its culture, cuisine, and incredible diversity. Living in France has therefore many advantages such as a high quality of life, excellent state services and an ideal strategic location in the Schengen area. Whether you are an entrepreneur, researcher, retiree, student, or a family member of a French citizen, you will need a French residence permit to live in the French territory long-term. 

This guide walks you through the following: :

  • Long-stay visa
  • Carte de séjour
  • Carte de residence 

Do I need a French residence permit?

If you are a non-EU citizen willing to spend more than three months in France, you will need to apply for a long-stay visa (visa de long séjour) or a French residence permit. There are different French resident permits available to non-European Union nationals, so it is important that you check with the French authorities which resident permit is relevant to your situation. For further details on visa and immigration have a look at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.

Below are listed several reasons that make you eligible to obtain a French residence permit:

  • Work: you can obtain a work permit as a self-employed individual or as an employee coming to France for work purposes.
  • Family reunification: You can obtain a French residence permit for example if you are: the spouse of a French national, one of the parents of a French national, the spouse of an EU/EEA national, the child of French citizens.
  • Study and training: You can obtain a French residence permit in order to study in France as part of your university studies or as part of an exchange scheme or cooperation programme.
  • Private stay: If you want to come to France for tourism or private reasons without engaging in any professional activity, you will need to apply for a visa or French residence permit depending on the length of your stay.

Apply for a long-stay visa

Whether it is for personal reasons or professional activity, foreign nationals will need to apply for a France visa if they want to stay more than 90 days in France. Your application must be submitted to the French embassy or consulate in your country of residence. The visa will allow you to stay in France for a specific period of time generally valid between three and twelve months. If you want to stay for more than a year in France, you will need to apply for a residence permit while in France. 

Visa requirements:

  • A passport valid for three months after the last day of stay
  • Application forms (original + copy) corresponding to your situation and reason to travel
  • Two passport-size photos
  • Financial guarantees that you have sufficient income or means to live in France
  • Proof of medical insurance that covers you for the entire time that you’re in France
  • Proof of lodging in France
  • For the spouse of a French citizen, a livret de famille (family record books) or a copy of the French marriage license, or the official French transcript of the marriage license if the marriage took place outside France
  • Visa fee

Apply for a residence permit in France

Once you enter the French territory and wish to stay longer than what your visa is granting you, you will need to book an appointment with the French government local authority in order to receive a residence permit which will allow you to stay more than a year in France. French residence permits differ according to your profile and the duration you are intending to stay in France.

Carte de séjour

The carte de séjour gives you temporary residence in France for a year once your visa has expired. You are able to renew your carte de séjour for three consecutive years. In order to receive your temporary residence permit, you’ll need to go to your local prefecture — France’s local authorities.

Required documentation:

Depending on your situation, additional documentation might be requested:

  • Valid passport with the long-stay visa plus photocopy of passport title page and French visa page
  • One passport photo
  • Proof of financial resources
  • Proof of medical insurance or a medical certificate issued by a doctor approved by the French Consulate
  • Proof of domicile in France

Carte de residence

To become a resident in France, you’ll need to apply for a carte de resident. Once you’ve renewed your carte de séjour for three consecutive years, you will have to go to your local prefecture to apply for a carte de residence which will be valid for ten years. This new residence permit will give you the status of a permanent resident in France.

Required documentation:

  • Sworn statement declaring that you want France to become your place of habitual residence 
  • Medical certificate delivered by the French Office of Immigration and Integration 
  • Soon-to-be expired carte de séjour
  • Three passport photos
  • ID card and passport

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a French visa to stay in France?

If you wish to stay in France for more than 90 days, you will need to apply for a long-stay visa. Your France visa application will have to be submitted at the French embassy or French consulate of your country of residence.

Do I need a French resident permit to stay in France?

If you wish to stay in France for more than a year, you will need to apply for a French residence permit at your local prefecture in France. The carte de séjour is a temporary residency permit renewable for three years.

Can I acquire French permanent residence?

Once you have stayed in the French territory for three years, you are able to apply for French permanent residence. The carte de residence is a residence permit valid for ten years, giving you the status of a permanent resident in France.

Is there a France Golden Visa?

France does not offer a Golden Visa program. Foreign citizens and their family members wishing to stay in France need to apply for a visa or residence permit.