Reader question: Are there any restrictions on the amount and length of times you can return to the UK during the span of a French long-stay visa for six to 12 months? C.N.
No, a French long-stay visa (visa de long-séjour) does not restrict you on the right to come and go from the UK during the period.
It gives you a set period during which you can freely spend time in France – and this period is not counted for the usual ‘90 in 180 days’ rule – but this does not require you to spend a specific amount of time in the country. During this time your passport should not be stamped as an ordinary visitor – this would only resume after the visa period.
Note that ‘temporary’ long-stay visas are in general only issued for periods for four to six months, as spending more time than this in France would usually be taken as implying that you are moving to France, in which case a different kind of visa is issued, often a visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour.
This is a kind of visa that must be ‘validated’ by the foreign residents’ body OFII in the first three months. It is then equivalent to a residency card and is renewable by applying for a physical card at the end of the first year.