Reader Question: My wife and I have six-month visas but often travel back to England. We think when the visa expires we can use the 90/180-day entitlement to extend our stay. Must we return to the UK when the visa runs out and re-enter France to activate the 90-day rule?
You are correct that it is possible to benefit from Schengen rules, allowing non-EEA nationals to spend 90 days in any 180- day period in France, once your visa runs out.
When we asked the Direction générale de la police nationale (DGPN) this question earlier this year, they said: “On expiry of a long-stay visa, a person can carry out a short stay of up to 90 days in any 180-day period without having to leave the country.
At the end of these two stays, when leaving the country, they must explain to border authorities that they have completed a short stay following their long stay and present relevant evidence to prove the legitimacy of their whole stay in France.”
There is therefore no need to return to the UK immediately once the six months are up. Be aware, though, that if you stay for too long, France might consider you to be a resident.
The Interior Ministry told The Connexion: “In the case of a stay of more than six months, the secondary residence becomes the de facto primary residence, at least for the year currently in progress. They should therefore request a long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit.”
This is valid for one year; to stay further people apply for a residency card.