You have been dating your French partner for some time now and you are planning to move to France? In bi-national relationships, expatriation and marriage are often the only way to continue making plans together in the long term. You may already be married to your French partner but never moved to France… of you are planning to get married to be able to relocate to France to join your French other-half, you may be wondering what are your options and how to apply for a French spouse visa. I will detail for you the main options to request a French spouse visa whether you are already married or planning to marry your French lover.
CAUTION: This article doesn’t apply to Algerian nationals married to a French citizen as Algerians. Algerian nationals depend on a special bilateral agreement; therefore the rules stated below do not apply. All the visas and residence permits for all other non-EU nationalities fall under the CESEDA (Code de l’Entrée et du Séjour des Étrangers et du Droit d’Asile).
Situation #1: You are already married with your French partner
Request a Long Stay Visa
If you are a non-EU citizen already married to your French other half and are planning to spend more than 90 days and maybe settle in France, you should request a long-stay visa (Visa Long Séjour, commonly called VLS). The request should be done at the French consulate of your current country of residence. This can be your home country, but also the country where you currently hold a valid residence permit.
The VLS is the first visa you should request to settle in France.
What is a Long Stay Visa (or VLS)?
The long stay visa (VLS) is also called Visa type D. As you are married to a French citizen, you should request the Marriage Long Stay Visa, called Visa de Long Séjour (VLS) valant Titre de Séjour (TS) “Vie Privée et Familiale” also called “pour époux de Français”.
The visa D authorises you to enter France and remain for more than 3 months and up to one-year maximum.
Yes, a VLS-TS, you might be wondering what it means… The TS stands for Titre de Séjour (Residence Permit), this means that while your visa (VLS-TS) is valid, you do not need to request a residence permit to remain in France. Your visa stands for a long stay visa and as a residence permit. The VLS-TS Vie Privée et Familiale allows you to work in France without any restriction.
How to request a French spouse visa?
First, you need to create an online account on France-Visas to fill in the visa request form and check the required documents that vary from one nationality to another. So, it is essential you check the specific documents required for your nationality with the French consulate or France Visas depending on your country of residence.
Some common documents requested for this French spouse visa are your the full copy of your French marriage certificate, either made by the French administration (depending on where you got married) or translated and legalised or apostilled (if applicable depending on your nationality). Also, your partner will have to provide supporting documents to prove his or her French nationality, for example, a birth certificate.
You will make the appointment with the French Consulate of your country of residence on the France-Visas platform.
You will need to go in person to the appointment with all the requested documents and the request form fully completed and signed. Your biometric data will be collected if this is your first visa request to France.
GOOD TO KNOW
- You can make your visa request at the soonest 3 months before your planned travel date
- The consulate advises not to book any flight before your visa is approved
- It can take between 3 weeks to 3 months to receive the French spouse visa depending on the consulates or France visa offices.
- You can follow the progress of your visa request on your France-Visas account.
Note that the PACS (the French civil partnership) doesn’t give an automatic right to a visa to come to France, the way the wedding does. It will be taken into account but it doesn’t guarantee the visa (or residence permit) approval.
What to do when you arrive in France with your French spouse visa?
The VLS-TS Vie Privée et Familiale exempts you from requesting a residence permit the first year in France, but you absolutely need to register with OFII (Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration) and validate your visa online within the first 3 months following your arrival in France.
You will need to provide the information:
- your visa information
- your date of entry in France
- your address of residence in France
- your credit/debit card to pay the residence permit delivery tax (250€ for spouses of French citizen)
A receipt will be provided, you will need to provide this document as the tax proof of payment. Make sure you save this document. It will be requested to collect your residence permit.
You will also be called in for an appointment with OFII to sign a Contract of Integration (CIR) and also to attend a medical appointment.
CAUTION: If you do not validate your visa within the 3 month time frame, you will no longer be staying legally in France.
What to do when your VLS-TS is about to expire?
How to avoid having to request another French spouse visa?
It has now been almost one year that you live in France with your French partner and your VLS-TS will expire in the next two months. Make sure you are in France at that time.
To remain in France, you need to request a residence permit “Vie privée et familiale”. There is no need to return to your home country, the residence permits are to be requested directly in France at your local Préfecture.
Once you submit your residence permit request at the Prefecture, and only if your file is complete, you will be provided with a receipt (called récépissé). The récépissé authorises you to remain in France for the dates indicated on the document, usually 4 months, sometimes 6 for the initial request.
For most residence permit requests, the recépissé does not authorise to work, however, the Vie Privée et Familiale permit request does, unless stated otherwise on the récepissé.
CAUTION: The recépissé for a first residence permit request (opposed to a residence permit renewal récepissé), doesn’t authorise to travel outside France. If you leave the country, this document will not allow you to get back in and depending on your nationality you will need to request a visa.
The “Vie Privée et Familiale” long stay visa sometimes called the French spouse visa comes under the Code of the entry and residence regulation and asylum right (Code de l’entrée et du séjour des étrangers et du droit d’asile – Ceseda).
- Personal records:
- passport (pages with the personal data and the entry stamp) ;
- birth certificate with filiation ;
- a marriage certificate and birth certificate with filiation of your children if applicable (original documents + French translations by a sworn translator by a French court of Appeal).
- Proof of residence (less than 3 months old) stating the spouse name:
- If you are a tenant:
– an energy bill such as electricity, gas, water, and landline phone, Internet in your name. CAREFUL: the mobile-phone bill is usually not accepted.
– Lease or rental contract (less than 3 months old), successive rental payment receipts,
- If you are staying at a hotel or a residence: proof of residence + receipt for the previous month rent.
- If you are being hosted (in the case that your name is not on the rental contract): a hand-written certificate of residence signed by your host + your host last energy bill + a copy of your host’s proof of identity.
- If you are a tenant:
- 3 ID photos respecting the Prefecture requirements, format 35 mm x 45 mm
- Proof of the residence permit tax payment (to be given when collecting the permit). See more information below.
- Your OFII CIR attestation (Contrat d’Intégration Républicain)
- Your OFII medical certificate (to provide when collecting your residence permit)
- A sworn statement certifying you do not live in polygamy (if you are from a country where polygamy is legal)
- A marriage certificate (original documents + French translations by a sworn translator by a French court of Appeal)
- Proof of French nationality of your partner: valid French National ID card or a certificate of French nationality of less than 6 months.
- A community of living: one sworn statement signed by both partners certifying that you live together with proving documents covering one-year duration (such as rental contract under both names, energy bills under both names, joint bank account details…)
NOTE: If the community of living has been interrupted due to violence all possible proofs should be provided (filling of a complaint, partner’s conviction for violence, testimonies, medical attestations…). Other reasons for interruption of the community of living are usually not accepted to request the “Vie Privée et Familiale” residence permit.
Situation #2: You are going to marry your French partner
Congratulations! You are getting married, but before settling durably in France, you will have to go through some lengthy red tape. Getting married in France or abroad will impact the type of administrative process and trips. So better taking everything into account before booking a venue.
You are planning to get married in France with your French partner
Option 1: Coming to France with a short-stay visa (3 months tourist visa)
I won’t hide it, this option will imply more administrative processes, travels and expenses, depending on your nationality. But sometimes, personal life and dreams are a priority!
It is totally legal to come to France with a tourist visa to get married. There is no specific marriage visa in France.
The recommended option will be to go back to your home country before your 90 days tourist visa expires to request a VLT-TS Vie Privée et Familiale at the French consulate to be able to come back to France with the relevant visa.
There is another route, some people choose to take but it is not recommended as it implies that you will remain for a minimum of 3 months without the legal right to live in France. You can request a Vie Privée et Familiale residence permit in France after 6 months living in France with your French partner. Do be able to do this, you need to meet the 3 cumulative following conditions as per Art. L-211-2-1 of the CESEDA:
1. Your marriage should have taken place in France
This shouldn’t be a problem as it was your initial plan and maybe your dream. This required quite a bit of anticipation and preparation. Make sure you contact the City hall a few months before, I recommend 6 months, if you can, not to get delayed as there is paperwork that will take time to receive.
Leave this to your French partner worry about it 😉 The process is detailed here in French.
Depending on your nationality, there can be extra documents to provide. You should reach out to the French consulate or the French city hall to have the relevant information applying to your situation.
2. Prove your legal entry in France
As soon as you arrive at the French airport, you should request a “déclaration d’entrée sur le territoire français” as you didn’t automatically go through customs. You can either do it at the customs desk at the airport or at the Police station within the first 3 days following your arrival.
You must have a stamp proving your entry in France and if applicable a short stay type C visa (some nationalities are exempted of tourist visa, please check with the French consulate of your country of residence). If your flight is direct into France, your passport will be stamped in France. However, if you had a connecting flight and your first entry into the Schengen zone is another country than France, you will not be stamped in France as required for your coming administrative process.
3. Prove 6 months of a prior community of living
Type of documents that can be provided to prove community of living (it is essential the documents are under both names):
- French tax notice
- Energy bills (electricity, gas, internet)
- Rental contract or title of property
- Insurance certificate
- Pictures of the couple together
- Emails, SMS, What’s app, any type of communication that prove that you were living together in France
- Testimonies of relatives, friends… this is a non-exhaustive list.
If you decided anyhow to take this route, you will need to pay an extra 200€ via fiscal stamp for the regularisation of your status (50€ to be paid at the moment of the request (non-refundable) and the rest when collecting the residence permit.
If you plan to come to France with another long term visa, such as the EU Blue Card, depending on your possibilities and professional options. You will therefore be able to stay in France after the wedding and then ask for a change of status to Vie Privée et Familiale. As every change of status, it can be done within 2 months before the visa expiry. Some people choose to request a Visitor long-stay visa if no other long term visa meet their possibilities. Be aware that the visitor visa does not allow you to work (opposed to the Vie Privée et Familiale one) and you also need to prove that you will be able to afford to live in France without income.
Option 2: You are in France under another residence permit
In that case, you can also request a Vie Privée et Familiale residence permit if you meet the 3 above stated conditions. Within two months before the expiry of the current permit, you need to request a change of status (Changement de status as they call it at the Préfecture). This means requesting another type a residence permit instead of requesting a renewal of your current permit. You can follow the process explained in the first section.
You are planning to get married outside of France with your French partner
This solution will allow you to request directly a VLS-TS to the French consulate of your country of residence and follow the process as explained in the Option #1, and will avoid you to request a short stay visa (depending on your nationality as some nationalities are exempted). This can make you save both time and money! For this, you have 2 possibilities:
1. Getting married via the French administration (Embassy or French consulate)
Getting married at the French consulate or the French Embassy (depending on the countries) means that your marriage will automatically be recognised in France. A French marriage certificate and a Livret de Famille will be provided to you and you will be able to use this documents to request the Vie Privée et Familiale VLS-TS as explained in the first section of this article.
CAUTION: Some French Embassies or Consulate are not authorised to perform marriages, for example, this is the case of the French Embassy of Taiwan. Please check with the French Embassy of your country if they can perform it and the requested documentation that can vary from one country to another before making your plans.
Some documents specifically requested when getting married abroad can be quite long to receive as this is the case of the Certificat de capacité à mariage required for your French partner. This certificate can take 2-3 months to receive so get ready as early as you can.
2. Getting married with the local administration
You made the choice to marry at home, or in a third country, in both cases, you are getting married outside France in front of the local civil registrar. In order for the marriage certificate to be recognized in France, the registrary must be transcripted by the French consulate where the marriage took place. The know the relevant process, contact directly the consulate as it can differ from one country to another.
Once your marriage certificate has been transcripted, you will be provided with a French marriage certificate and a Livret de Famille. You will therefore be able to submit a Vie privée et Familiale visa request as explained in the first section.
Well done! You’ve one through this lengthy process! You will need to request a renewal for the first 3 years before being able to request a 10-year residence permit as a French citizen spouse if you meet the requirements. You may also be able to request the French nationality after 4 years of marriage, sometimes 5 but this would be a topic for another article. Let me know if you will be interested in an article about the 10-year residence card in the below comments.