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Can I go back to the UK for visits while on a long-stay French visa?

We look at the rules surrounding movement between the two countries for people with a long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit (VLS-TS)

We look at the rules on international travel for French long-stay visa-holders Pic: Alexander Shutski / Shutterstock

Reader Question: If I have a long-stay French visa equivalent to a residence permit, am I allowed to go back to the UK for short trips? 

Holding British citizenship means that you have unrestricted entry to the UK, and so may always return to the country from abroad, whether to resume residency or simply for a short trip.

You are also allowed to leave France if you hold a long-stay visa.

Many British people wishing to spend up to a year in France, perhaps with a view to living there permanently, will obtain a visa long séjour valant titre de séjour (VLS-TS), which exempts them from having to apply for a residency permit. 

However, this visa must be validated by the French Immigration and Citizenship Office, the Ofii, within three months of your arrival in the country.

The government states that: “For the first three months after you arrive in France, you may freely leave France and come back, even without having validated your VLS-TS visa. 

“After these three months, if you have not validated your VLS-TS visa, you will need to apply for a new visa to return to France.”

The validation procedure enables you to lawfully remain in France until the end of the visa validity period and come and go from the country without having to apply for a visa in order to reenter. 

You can begin the process on this website.

A long-stay French visa also leaves the holder free to travel within the Schengen area for a period of up to 90 days in every 180, after which point they would need to obtain a visa for the country in question.

The Connexion asked the French consulate whether there is any limit on the amount of time that a long-stay visa holder may spend in the UK during their visa’s validity period.

A spokesperson said: “One may travel between the UK and France as many times as wished to in accordance with regulations to the residence status (with regards to taxes).” 

Read more: How France defines tax residency

What about temporary long-stay visas? 

We also asked for confirmation on whether movement between the UK and France is allowed on a visa long séjour temporaire (VLS-T), which normally allows someone who is sure of the duration of their visit to stay in the country for up to six months.

In this case, the spokesperson said, “the UK remains the country of regular residence, there is no paperwork to be done in France”, i.e. no validation procedure. 

Once this visa expires the person must leave the country; it cannot be used to apply for a carte de séjour while in France. 

“One may travel between the UK and France as many times as wished to while the six-month French long-stay visa is valid,” the spokesperson said. 

Related articles 

As a French resident, will I need Etias authorisation for EU travel?

Is French nationality my right if I am married to a French person?

Explainer: Long-stay French visas serving as residence permits

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