7 facts about French visa applications

May 22, 2023 | Blog, Home & Relocation

7 must-know facts about applying for a
French long-term visa


Fabien, French Visa Advisor


Fabien, the founder of Fab Insurance, has been in the insurance sector since 2015. With a passion for helping English-speaking expats navigate the administrative hurdles of the insurance industry, he has successfully guided thousands of clients through the visa application process, making things as simple as Frenchly possible!


If you are considering a move to France alone or with your family, there are some essential things you should know before applying for a French Long-Term Visa. From proof of income to navigating the healthcare system, we’ll share 7 must-know facts to help you navigate the process with ease and avoid the pitfalls and headaches of the visa application.


They’ll keep the original of your passport and you’ll get it back once your file has been processed. This usually takes a couple of weeks but…given that unforeseen circumstances can and do arise, it makes complete sense to plan for contingencies and make sure you have a digital copy of your passport on file and paper copies to hand. You never know…!


The criteria termed ‘Proof of income’ and ‘Proof of insurance’ are by far the main reasons that requests for business and visitor visas get rejected. The only way to avoid this is by making sure you provide all the ‘proof’ required when it comes to justifying your income and making sure that you choose an insurance provider that ‘knows his onions’ when it comes to visa-compliant insurance policies. If you don’t use someone who understands the precise requirements you could be in for a nasty surprise.



The ‘Proof of income’ element may seem daunting but it really shouldn’t be! The criteria are not set in stone and can include pension and dividend income, interest, and rents received in addition to any savings that you are able to access instantly. Please bear in mind that the staff at the TLS or VFS centres really just want to clarify that going forward, you won’t be a burden on the state. This means that unless your application is ‘sketchy’ overall when it comes to finances they will be fairly flexible if they believe you have the resources to support yourself. Having said that, you do obviously need to meet minimum income requirements – somehow or other!


Your long-term visa does not get automatically activated and must be done once you are actually in France. You must do this within the first 90 days of your physical presence on French soil and it must be done online. To do this you need to log in to the administrative website Foreigners in France and then enter the information on your visa, the visa number, the start date and the end of validity date, the date of issue and the reason for your stay. You will also need to provide additional information which includes family circumstances, a telephone number, email address, and the address where you are resident in France. You will also need a bank card to hand to pay the fee. Validating your visa within three months of arrival in France not only means that you can lawfully remain in France during the entire period of your visa’s validity, it also entitles you to leave France after the three months following your arrival, without requesting another visa in order to return. 


Long term French visa applications


Once the 90 days following your arrival in France have expired, you can apply for affiliation to the French social security system (known as la sécu) via the CPAM – Caisse primaire assurance maladie. Once you have been accepted into this you will be able to access the French healthcare system (which is excellent!) just like any other French resident. You will also receive the famous green healthcare card known as la carte vitale. You will need to show this whenever you see a healthcare professional, whether at the hospital, seeing a specialist, dentist, orthodontist or GP. After the 90 days have elapsed you will also be able to apply for permanent residency – often referred to simply as la carte de séjour.


The applications to the CPAM and for a residency permit are interlinked but the two processes are separate. You first need to apply for CPAM but being accepted doesn’t mean your visa is renewed or that the residency permit is granted. You then need to manually apply for residency or visa renewal. Applications for residency are made to the préfecture of the département where you are resident; you will need to look for the page entitled ‘Accueil des étrangers’ and supply the information requested. 


And last but most definitely not least – throughout this process, timing and organisation are absolutely key!  You cannot apply more than three months ahead of your desired arrival date and no later than one month prior to entry into France. Make sure you have all your paperwork organised and ready to go before you even think about applying and ensure you’ve planned everything (including reserving plane tickets and making travel arrangements) with these time constraints in mind.


Good luck and don’t forget – you’re not alone, we are here to help!

Read more on our blog about Relocating to France, Spain, Italy and Germany

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