Explainer: Temporary long-stay visas to visit France

Key points on the French VLS-T and step-by-step guidance on how to apply

The visa is a sticker in your passport that allows a stay for a fixed, dated period, usually of four to six months
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Non-EU citizens looking to spend more than three months in France and who do not have a spouse who is an EU citizen can use a temporary long-stay visa (VLS-T).

Key points

  • Non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens can only benefit from visa-free travel for up to 90 days in any 180-day period
  • The visa is a sticker in your passport that allows a stay for a fixed, dated period, usually of four to six months, not counted as part of the usual 90-in-180 days and not renewable or extendable
  • The visa costs €99, plus a processing fee of around £31 or $36, depending on the country you are applying from
  • If applying again, six months must pass between the end date of the last visa and the intended start date of the next one
  • The French police told The Connexion it is possible to stay on a bit longer after the end of the visa period using unspent days under the 90/180 days rule. It may be simpler to avoid doing so but if necessary, explain this at the border if need be and to keep evidence such as travel tickets.
  • Use this tool to check on your ‘90 day’ rights (time in France within your visa dates can be deducted from the count)
  • You risk being seen as a French tax resident if you spend more than six months in a given year in France
  • Spouses, Pacs or civil partners of EU (but not French) citizens do not need a visa and the Interior Ministry told The Connexion that they can apply in France for a residency card at a prefecture if the couple are planning to stay for more than three months in France
  • Other long-term partners can also qualify but evidence of five years living together is needed
  • There are also rules for spouses of French people, who can obtain a free long-stay visa to stay in France with them
  • Non-EU children also need visas

How to apply

1. Start a temporary long-stay visa (VLS-T) application at france-visas.gouv.fr (one expert suggested to us doing this anything up to six months before departure)

2. Submit it up to three months before travelling, leaving time for any delays in obtaining an appointment to take in supporting documents and for processing

3. Scroll down to Start your visa application, where you will be invited to create an account

4. Choose a visa centre for taking in your paperwork and give the type of visa (‘long-stay’), your passport number and expiry date, and your plans (eg. ‘visitor’) and the main purpose of your stay

5. Click ‘verify’ to continue

6. On further pages you are asked for personal details, previous stays in France for more than three consecutive months, intended dates and plans

7. Put in the intended start day, and under ‘number of months’, choose ‘between three and six’

8. You are asked if you plan to travel with others (note: non-EU children also need visas)

9. Details of where you will stay are needed, and of how you will fund the trip (eg. ‘cash’, ‘credit cards’, etc.). Other options include funding by a host or a guarantor.

10. Once a first application has been submitted, it is possible to add further applications from up to six members of your group. If you do, you will be called in together to hand in supporting documents.

11. When you have completed your application, with payment of any processing fees, print the application form off, as well as the receipt that will be generated at the end of the process

12. The website will indicate supporting documents needed

13. You then book your appointment to take in original supporting documents

Your visa appointment

In the case of the UK and US, this is done via websites of the contractors and the appointments are at one of their offices.

Bring in originals of all documents, your passport, and photocopies of these, including important passport pages.

You will pay the visa fee at the appointment.

Other documents to take include recent passport photos, a written promise not to work in France and explanation of your plans, and evidence of your ‘socio-economic situation’ (see below), such as pension documents, a work contract or study certificate.

Health cover

A UK-issued Ehic or Ghic suffices for health cover for people applying from the UK.

For other nationalities, private health insurance is required for urgent medical care and repatriation.

Proof of funds and accommodation

You also need proof of your accommodation in France, such as a rental contract or deeds, or a statement by a host, as well as proof of funds, such as your last three bank statements.

If your partner will support you, you need a marriage or civil partnership certificate.

As a general rule, the amount requested is income equivalent to the French minimum wage (€1,383 net) per month of the stay, or equivalent savings.

Slightly lower levels are accepted for second-home owners. Levels for those applying as couples are usually slightly higher in total, but not double.

The service will check the papers, scan or take a photo, scan your fingerprints, and retain your passport and document copies for forwarding to the consulate for processing.

Picking up your passport and visa

You can track the application’s progress online. Any queries or requests for more documents will usually be by email.

When the visa is ready, you can collect your passport or pay for courier delivery.

Another person can collect it if they bring application print-outs, a copy of your passport and an authorisation letter from you.

The information here is an edited extract from our guide to French visas and residency cards.