Visa Long Sejour guide for American spouse of French citizen

Visa Long Sejour guide for American spouse of French citizen

UPDATE 2019: Since this post first came out, the French government has started outsourcing US visa applications to a company called VFS Global.

The company has instructions on how to apply for French visas here. In the comments of this article, you can find readers sharing their experiences with the VFS Global system.

Original post follows. Good luck! -Charli

When we decided to move to Paris, I went in search of stories about the Visa Long Sejour process and found surprisingly little online. So I decided to share my own experience with you. Good news: The visa process is quick, relatively easy and FREE!


This info is for American citizens living in the U.S. who are married to a French person and moving to France. Before you move, you’ll need the Visa Long Sejour (long stay visa) which is good for one year, will allow you to live and work in France and give you time to settle in France before you convert your status to Titre de Sejour.

I started the Visa Long Séjour process in April 2017 in New York City and am currently in Paris, going through the next steps of the immigration process for the Titre de Séjour (click here to find that info).

Though it hasn’t been that long since I went through this visa process, you should of course double check everything on your consulate website as the process or requirements can always change.


Visas are handled by the French embassy and consulates in the United States. If you live in or near Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, New Orleans, Miami, Atlanta, or Boston it will be easier for you because you need to go into the office once to apply for the visa, and again to go pick it up. Some consulates will mail your passport with the visa and stamped OFII form back to you if you bring a self-addressed stamped envelope. So if you don’t live close by, call and ask about that to save yourself a second trip.

Check this map to see which consulate handles your state and be taken to the website.


You will need to make an appointment online with the consulate that handles your state.  There was a several weeks wait in New York for an appointment, so I recommend making one for as soon as you know you’ll have all the necessary documents.

You will be able to change the appointment if needed, as long as there is availability.

The appointment is only for yourself. Your spouse doesn’t need to, and can’t go with you inside the consulate (at least this was the case in NYC).


Most important: You need to have your marriage certified in France (to have a French marriage certificate and Livret de famille) before you can get this visa. If you haven’t done that yet, get started ASAP because it takes a little while. You don’t need to actually go get married in France– we got married in New York and had the marriage certified through the French consulate.

Here is a list of what I brought to my appointment. Very important: You have to bring copies of all the forms and documents. We will go over the forms more below.

  • A print out of appointment confirmation (to show security)
  • Your passport (copy of the identification page)
  • Long Stay Visa application (available in English and French)
  • O.F.I.I. form (top portion only filled out. Only available in French)
  • Livret de famille (copy of the pages with your information on it)
  • 2 passport photos (2 x 2)
  • French marriage certificate, less than two months old. (Transcription du mariage sur les registres de l’état civil consulaire français) (Order online here)
  • Spouse’s passport or French ID (just to show they don’t keep it)

DO NOT FORGET to make copies of everything, as these are what the consulate will keep.

Check out the instructions for the photos as they are specific. I took the “no smile” rule to the extreme and look a little scary, but it did the job.

There is NO FEE for this visa, which is awesome.

The person who handled my application also asked if I had a flight booked and if I has a copy of my flight ticket. I didn’t, and it wasn’t an issue, but you may want to bring a print out if you have one in case.


The Visa Long Sejour application form is available in English and French, but the O.F.I.I. form is only available in French. So let’s go over how to fill out these forms and any tricky parts.

Long Stay Visa Application Form: this form is pretty straightforward, but here are some pointers:

  • DATES: Make sure you put dates in the correct, European form of DAY-MONTH-YEAR.
  • NATIONAL ID NUMBER: I didn’t put anything here.
  • EMPLOYER: If you are applying for a spouse visa, so don’t need to fill out this section. That is on here because it is the same form used for long sejour work visa.
  • BOX 23: Check “Family stay.”
  • BOX 27: Check “more than one year.”
  • BOX 31: Your in-laws don’t count. Only put names of your immediate family members if they live in France.

O.F.I.I. Form: this form is unfortunately only available in French, so let’s go over it.

  • You only need to fill out the top part of this form for your appointment. The part above “CADRE RESERVE AU CONSULAT.”
  • You still need to bring all three pages of the form to the appointment (even though the other two pages don’t have your info on it.)
  • For your mother’s “NOM DE NAISSANCE” be sure to put her maiden name (last name at birth). I accidentally put my mom’s married name at first and thankfully my husband caught the mistake before my appointment.
  • The consulate will keep this form along with your visa application when you go for your appointment.
  • Below is a translation of the form.

Did this guide help you?


Here is how my experience went:

I showed up 15 minutes early to my appointment, showed the security guard my ID and appointment confirmation and went through the metal detector. The security guard assigned me a number. I was told my phone must be turned off in the building. (Note for NYC applications: visas are not handled at the main consulate building, but a smaller office just around the corner on 74th street.)

French visa office in NYC

In a small waiting area, I sat with other people applying for visas until my name and number were called for the first time. At the window, the woman asked if I spoke French. I responded “yes, a little” and she spoke French to me for the remainder of the process so only say yes if you think you can answer the basic questions about your application.

I handed her my signed and dated application form, O.F.I.I. form, passport, and copies of the documents she asked me for. She asked me a few questions about my husband, living situation in France and for some reason asked how much I paid in rent in NYC. Various stamps and signatures were put on my forms. She asked if I had a ticket booked to France yet, and if I had a copy of the ticket. I didn’t but it was okay. She kept all my forms, passport and copies of documents and asked me to sit down.

I waited for about 15 minutes until my name and number were called again and went to another window. There I was asked to confirm my information is all correct, told that my application is complete, given a receipt and told to come back during a specific window of time (only between 3:30-4:00pm) when my visa is ready.

NOTE: Your passport stays at the consulate with your application, so you will not be able to travel out of the country during the processing time.


I was told to wait two weeks (10 business days) for the visa to for certain be ready, though it could be ready as quickly as one week later. There is unfortunately no way to call or email and find out if it is available before you come back to the consulate. Mine was available when I came by a little bit early, about seven business days later.

The New York City consulate had a very specific half hour window during the day you could come pick up your visa. So be sure to check your receipt and instructions before you go pick it up.

In addition to your visa, be sure you also get your stamped O.F.I.I. form back.

A reader noted in the comments that someone else could pick up her passport/visa if they have the receipt and showed up at the right time. Check with your consulate to ensure this applies to your location as well if you need to do that.


Once you have your visa, you are good to enter France and stay and work for up to a year on that visa!

Make a copy of your visa and keep track of your O.F.I.I. form with the stamp because you will need those pretty quickly for the next part of the immigration process when you get to France– converting your Visa Long Sejour into the Titre du Sejour.

For more on my experience converting the Visa Long Sejour into the Titre du Sejour, with the OFII meeting and medical appointment, click here.

Did this article help you with your immigration process? Please consider saying thank you by buying me a coffee or two to help keep my work going!

93 thoughts on “Visa Long Sejour guide for American spouse of French citizen”

  • Charlianne,

    Thank you so much for this. I was very confused and found little information about this specific process . My experience was similar to yours, the only difference was that they didn’t ask me any questions about my husband or my life in NYC. And I was asked for the “marriage certificate” but they meant the “acte de mariage”, I got married in Paris, and both papers exist, so I got confused and took the “marriage celebration certificate”, but now is all good; however I do feel they should be more specific in their website. Anyway, they told me to come back next Monday to pick up my passport, but I’m traveling on Sunday to Upstate NY, do you know if I can send someone else to pick it up? or do you think they will need to see me? I have the feeling that the process for this visa is a little different from the other long stay visa.

    Again thank you for your information!


    • Hi Paula, For student visas you can designate someone else to pick up, but I’m not sure about long-stay visa. It shouldn’t be a problem to have it sit there for a week or so though, especially over Christmas when the office will be closed extra days. Do let us know if you find out!

    • Hi Paula, on the day of your visa appointment in NYC, were you asked to show your husband’s original passport or identity card? If so, did you have it to show them or did they accept the copy?

      • Visa appointment update: With the exception of my passport, I was not asked for any original documents, only copies. I asked my husband to send his national identity card from France but it was not even mentioned at the visa appointment. No other questions were asked of me (or about my husband for that matter) except when I plan to travel.

        • Hi charlianne question Do you have to be married im France to get ur marriage certifide in France because me and my husband to be Is in Baltimore Planning to move ro to Bordeaux France can we get married in Baltimore before we move to france

  • Hi Charlianne,
    Thank you so much for this article. It has been such a confusion for my husband and I so far since getting married in December 2017. My situation is a bit different then yours and I was wondering if you have any advice or input. My husband and I came back to France end of September 2017 where I entered on my tourist visa, we got married end of December. We have a meeting at our prefecture at the end of January 2018 here in France. The only thing is since the prefecture has ridiculous hour appointments that was the quickest we could get in and my visa just expired 2 weeks ago. Do you think it would be a issue since my “tourist visa” technically expired? We have no plans to return to America anytime soon so we don’t have travel documents. Also I am 8 months pregnant if that makes any difference. Do you think the process is just as quick here as in the states?
    Thanks again for your feed, it was really helpful.
    Bon Journee,

    • Hi Courtney! Thanks for reading, glad you found the info helpful.
      Two ideas I have that may be helpful for you. One, I know if you can get a doctors note saying it is unhealthy for you to travel home than you can get an extension/pass on overstaying your visa, which would probably apply for your pregnancy. Also, I have the situation right now where my renewal appointment for my Carte de Sejour is after my visa expires and I was told to go to the Commissariat (police department) to get a “Récépissé Visa” proving I have an appointment and am still in the country. In Paris this is handled by the 17eme Commissariat.
      One of these options may work for you! Do let us know when you find out.

      • I have found that each region of France handles visas different. I do not know why? When I first came as a tourist only. No 6-month visa and just stayed. During that time I got married. I know the rules say you have to return to your country to be issued a 6-month visa but that never happened with me. I was married in a very small town and the mayor who married us phoned the consulate and talked them into issuing me a six-month visa with having to leave France. They sent it to the Mairie and I just signed for it. During the 6 months, I apply to stay as a spouse of a French citizen. I went to the city that I need to apply with my husband and was granted a 1-year visa. I did that for 4 years but when I went to apply for my 5th year they told me I was allowed the carte de residence (good for 10 years) because I was married to a French citizen. No, I am not an American but I am Canadian.

        • Hi Carol,

          I am American. I came to France on a tourist visa and stayed too. I have been here almost 2 years. During that time, I have gotten married and had a baby with my French wife. Now, we are faced with what seems like a bureaucratic hell. If I apply for my carte de sejour with my situation irregulier status, they tell us it will take at least 10 months to process. They have advised I return to the U.S. to get a visa and then come back with situation regular status. However, we cannot afford that and I have nowhere to go in the U.S. After reading your comment, I am really hoping I can do something like what you did. So, the mayor of your village just called a consulate in Canada and the visa was mailed to the mairie? Sounds too good to be true. If I could do that then our family would be relieved of a mountain of stress.

        • Hello Carol, just curious , what town did this happen in. I will soon be in Abbeville, Which is also a small town! Did they ask you why ? You didnt have a Visa?
          Thanks for any information.

        • June 22, 2019 at 6:39 am
          Hello Carol, just curious , what town did this happen in. I will soon be in Abbeville, Which is also a small town! Did they ask you why ? You didnt have a Visa?
          Thanks for any information

  • Hey! Thank you so much for the article. This whole process is very confusing and this helps. I had a question (I have the same visa as the one in the photo shared by you), can you travel and work in all of EU on this? For tourist visas, they usually say “Valable pour États-Schengen” but on this visa it is “Valable pour France sauf CTOM”, so I am a little confused. Thanks again!

    • Hi Ronak, you can travel/enter anywhere in the Schengen zone on this visa while it is valid, it is “multiple entry” meaning you can leave and come back to France on the visa. You can stay in these places for 90 days out of 180, so you can’t exactly live in them, and you will need to have a French address because you do have to prove you live in France to get the visa renewed (and to get it in the first place as you know). They are giving you the visa to live in France, not elsewhere in the EU, and I don’t believe you can work in other countries as if you were an EU citizen. CTOM refers to the French territories, “sauf CTOM” meaning the visa isn’t applicable there.

      • Hey Charlianne! Thanks a lot for the prompt reply and the explanation. It is really kind of you. 🙂
        So I shouldn’t have a problem if I want to travel within the EU. 😀

  • Im bringing my 3 children with me to france…do they need to come with me to the interview? Also, are they very picky on how much income my husband makes? I wont be working til after i learn more french
    Thank you.

    • Hi Meghann — I had zero questions about my husband’s income during the Visa Long Sejour process. It isn’t like the US green card process, which is far more invasive and requires a lot more documents. I didn’t immigrate with children, but I imagine if your children’s father is French they also have French citizenship, in which case they wouldn’t need to go through this visa process. I don’t recall any questions about having children or not.

      • So i shouldnt bring any documents proving how we will survive in france…. Maybe im stressing to much?!!! Our kids are american(from a previous marriage) I know I can add their names to my visa but will bring them to interview just in case. I can let u know so if others ask too…u will have an answer.
        Your help has been so amazing…Ive read this like 500 times and even sent to my hubby to see if im missing anything
        What about medical insurance…do I need proof of that to before visa interview? Is it needed absolutely before we leave USA??

        • Neither my husband nor I had a job yet in France when we moved, and we didn’t need to provide any financial documents for this visa. I also didn’t get my medical insurance until I was in France. If your children aren’t French, I imagine they will need their own separate visas. I don’t have children so I can’t be of huge help there, but I’m pretty positive you will need to submit applications for them as well.

          • So I noticed also u said u need the 2 forms of marriage proof…I do have the family book but how do I get the marriage certificate. We were married here in Cali…is that what u mean??

  • Thanks so much for this article! My boyfriend is French and we’re looking into getting married and moving to France. I’m wondering: how long did it take for you to get your livret de famille? I can’t seem to find any information on how long that part of the process is. (He would be getting a livret de famille for the first time.)

    • You actually both get the Livret de Famille, and it will have both your names in it (as well as your parents’ names). How long it takes depends on the circumstances of your marriage — if you get married in France, you’ll already have a French marriage certificate. I got married in America and then we had our US marriage declared and transferred into a French marriage certificate through the NYC consulate, so it took a little longer, around two months to finish the process.

  • Hi Charli,

    First off, thank you SO MUCH for writing this! I’ve gotten two student visas before (one at the DC consulate and one at the NYC one) and I’m finding the process very different and stressful this time around since now I’m trying to get a visa because I am married to a French man as well.

    I have a question for you specific to the NYC Consulate. I got an appointment for May 17th, and am planning to leave in early June. However, I’ve just secured a job in Paris and would now like to push up the appointment. But I find that the NYC Consulate website is super glitchy. It only seems to work for a small window of time on Monday morning at 8:30am. I tried this past Monday to get an earlier appointment. Some were available in April. Then suddenly they all disappeared while I was confirming, so I’m still stuck with my May 17th appointment. When you did this, did you ever have an issue making the appointment? Did you call the Consulate? I’ve read on message boards that they can be really rude.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Natalie. I made an appointment through the website, but didn’t have to change it. Try giving them a call and see if they can help?

      • Thanks for the advice! I was actually able to get a new appointment during the weird Monday morning window, so all is well! I’m a bit worried that something will go wrong, but I have all the documents I need, so they can’t refuse me, right?

        I actually have another question. I’ve been hired by a company in France to start working in July, and my manager needs an “attestation Améli de l’assurance maladie” and a carte vitale in order to write up my contract, but says I can only take care of that once I arrive in France. I noticed you other blog posts don’t mention these items or how long they take to get. Do you happen to know?

        Once again, thank you SO MUCH! Your blog has been SO helpful to me that I wish there were some way I could repay you! If you’re ever having trouble with the French language, feel free to email me! I’ve just completed a PhD in French, and have been teaching the language to American college students for years.

        • In my case I had to establish residency before I could get my insurance, which meant three months in the country. The physical carte vitale took a few months to arrive after applying. When you apply you get a sort of “placeholder” number until you get your permanent one. The insurance is based off being a French resident, not being married to a French person. You have to show proof that you’ve lived in the country three months including your VLS-TS (meaning you have to go through the OFII process first). July is a short turnaround, I doubt you would have this all by then. You have to do everything by mail because you can’t use the Ameli website until you have a carte vitale number. My spouse helped me a lot because everything is in French and the process can be confusing.

  • Hello Charli!
    Did you need to submit proof of medical insurance coverage valid for France with your visa application?
    Did you need to submit your husbands original French passport and ID card or were copies acceptable. (I can’t imagine them wanting a French spouse to mail them from France to the USA to submit but I don’t want to be rejected at the interview and have to start all over again because I am missing necessary documents)
    Thanks for your help. 🙂

    • Hi Ron,
      No on the health insurance. I didn’t get my French health insurance until after I was in France.
      You are supposed to bring your spouses passport or National ID, as well as a photo copy. At my meeting they looked at the physical one, but they only keep the copy. Because it is asked for, to be safe I would have it.

      • Post-interview update.
        Because my wife needed her passport and ID in France, I had her get a “certified copy” of her ID and passport and scan and send them to me by email for me to print out here in the states. And those, along with a copy of her birth certificate, seemed to be sufficient for the staff at the San Fransisco consulate.
        Because I had to fly in, and I had nowhere else to go, I showed up around 3 hours early. The security guard let me in anyway as there was no one else waiting at that time. The whole interview process was very quick as they went through my stack of documents, picking out the ones they wanted. Then they took my fingerprints and I was sent on my way. All in less than 10 minutes.
        I left them a self addressed USPS express envelope with express postage stamp ($24.70) so they could mail back my passport and I received it with my visa attached and my stamped OFII form in the mail 9 days later.
        Mission accomplished!

        • Ron, thanks for sharing your experience. Good to know about the self-addressed, stamped envelope. Helpful to save another trip if you live out of town! I will add this to the post.

  • Thank you for much for sharing the information, i have read your post more than 100 times!!!

    I just submitted mine from NZ a week ago, the consulate said it takes two weeks, hopefully I will get it on time.

    As my husband and I both don’t have any friends or relatives in France (he has French nationality though), my question is once I get my spouse visa, can I change the address I put it on the spouse visa application form? I only made a hotel reservation in order to get the address. But we plan to rent somewhere as quick as we can once we arrive in France.

    This proof of address buesiness has been a pain….so my understanding is the address on the visa application form is only for getting the visa?? But I should have a proper address before I send out the OFII form?

    Looking forward to your replay, thanks again for this post.


    • Hi Sylvia, you should have an address you can receive mail at on your OFII form you mail in because they will send your appointment notices there. I don’t believe you have to show proof of address until you go to your OFII meeting in France, so I don’t see why putting a hotel address would be an issue but to be safe I would call the consulate. I had a family address to use so I didn’t run into this issue personally. Good luck!

  • Hi Charli,

    My french fiance and I are planning to move to France September 1st of this year. We’re trying to decide what should come first – the wedding or the move. I read something about how before the wedding the native party must have lived in France for 40 days immediately preceding the wedding. If this is true, I assume I’ll apply for a tourist visa, get married after the 40 days, and then apply for the long-term visa while in France? Or, do you suggest first getting married here in the US, apply to have it recognized in France, and then apply for my long-term visa before we move?

    Also, since I will be married to a frenchman, when I apply for a long-term visa, do I have to prove health insurance or what other stability-type situations must be proven? I assume France takes care of those who are married to citizens, but I’m unsure.

    Also, are you still paying for US taxes?


    • Hi Kendale, I got married in the US and applied for the visa long sejour there. You can get your American marriage certified in France through the consulate so you don’t have to actually go to France. The advantage of this way is that you won’t have to fly back to the US for your visa long sejour, which I am pretty sure you will need to do if you go to France on a tourist visa and then apply since it is the embassy/consulate in your home country that handles visa long sejour. I could be wrong about this, but this happened to a friend of mine. I’m not an immigration expert so I’m not sure of every situation.

      You don’t have to have French health insurance, I didn’t have it until I lived here.

      US citizens have to file and pay taxes no matter where you live. In France you are only taxed by the US on income over a certain amount — around 100k euros — so you aren’t double taxed unless you make more than that. If your husband isn’t a citizen or greencard holder he won’t have to file.

      Hope this helped!

  • Thank you so much for helping out! I’ve been married to French wife for over 20 years. In our Livre de Familie, in the “extract from the transcript of marriage (extrait de l’acte de ,mariage)” pages, it has been duly ‘transcribed’ and signed by the French Consulate officer in Los Angeles. Do you know if I again need to come up with another translated copy of original marriage certificate .? Thank you much, Peter

    • Hi Peter, you are expected to bring your French marriage certificate as well (there is a link to order under the “what to bring” section), but we did not need to bring our American one. They don’t care if you’re married in America because the visa is predicated on French marriage rights. No need to translate anything if it is in French or English.

  • Bonjour Charli!

    Premièrement, merci pour cet article, qui nous as beaucoup rassuré sur la procédure de demande de Visa.

    J’ai une question concernant le formulaire CERFA de demande de Visa: il y est demandé si, lors du séjour (>1 an), la personne demandant le Visa est à la charge financière d’un Français.

    Nous avons répondu positivement, et y avons inscrit mon nom. En effet, mon mari n’as pas encore de travail et donc pas encore de justificatif de revenus.

    Penses-tu, que le consulat Français lui demandera des justificatif de mes revenus ? T’avaient t-ils demandé quelconque justificatifs de subsistence financière en France?

    Merci d’avance,

    Leslie et Stav

  • Hi Charli!

    First of all, thank you so much for this article, it’s very informative and reassuring! I feel much more at ease about the process having read your experience with it. I have a question, though, that I’m not sure you could answer but I figured I’d try! I’m a dual citizen (Mexico and US), and I’m going through the marriage procedures with the Mexican nationality, since my birth certificate is from Mexico. I want to apply for the long séjour visa in New York since some family lives there and it would be easier for me to make the trip. I want to have the French visa in my Mexican passport since it would match the nationality listed on my marriage certificate, as well as my birth certificate. I know I can apply for the visa in NY with a foreign passport as long as I show that I have permission to be in the country (a green card or a visa), but I also have a US passport. Do you think that the people at the visa office would understand this or would they be negative about me applying with a Mexican passport when I have an American one?

    Thanks in advance for your answer!

    • Hi Kevin, happy the article helped! I don’t have experience with using multiple passports so unfortunately I can’t be of help in that department. Good luck! -Charli

  • hi,
    i have applied long stay spouse visa for french national and documents remain same from india . i submitted all what they ask , family book and all so is it 100% sure that i have my visa ? hope you may concern ? thnaks

    • did you get your visa after summiting all they asked and how long did it take you to have it ? thank you

  • When does the visa begin? If I want to move to France in ten months, should I wait to apply for the visa? I just got married in France with my French boyfriend and now we are going back to the USA where we both live and work.

    • It begins when it is approved. So no reason to do it too far in advance — especially because you have to renew it in France before it expires one year later. I’m not sure if you can ask it to be post-dated somehow.

  • Hello !
    This was so helpful ! But I’m wondering about the 2 months marriage license part.

    What if we got married a bit back but I was on a student visa so I didn’t thinl we needed to rush on getting the long stay and now am going home trying to get that visa? Is there really a time limit between when you get married and when you can get the long stay ?

    • Hi Ebonee! The two months does not refer to how long ago you got married, it refers to when you ordered the copy of the marriage certificate. They want it to be a recently issued copy to ensure it is valid and you didn’t get divorced in the meantime. Make sense? Good luck!

  • Hi Charli,

    Your blog has been so helpful as it’s definitely difficult to find this information. My partner and I have a bit of a complex situation. He is French, I am American and we are marrying in New Zealand next month. We plan to move to France in about 9 months time when we head out of NZ. Do you have any other information on registering the marriage with the consulate and how long it took for you? Also, I see you are a news anchor but do you have any advice on finding work in France that doesn’t require you to speak French? I am learning but not nearly good enough. Any help would be amazing! Thank you!! 🙂

    • Hi Lauren– these are both topics I’ve been thinking of writing full posts on. We registered our marriage through the consulate in NYC, so I’m not sure if it is the same process as in NZ, but we got married in NYC in late December and were able to have the marriage validated in France by late February. So it took about two months. I will hopefully get a post up about this in the next few weeks.

      For the jobs — it is difficult, though more and more companies are becoming open to hiring people without great French as multinational companies often work a lot in English here. Tech, finance, international PR and tourist industries operate more in English than some others, so it also depends on your field.

      My work is in English, but I do use French for meetings and all the peripheral aspects such as tech support since it is a French company. I was lucky France 24 English exists because my French will probably never be good enough to compete with native French speakers. But even if you “work in English” you will most-likely still need to use French regularly. As an American, I was also lucky to have a work permit already through my marriage, because it is even harder if you need sponsorship.

      A few suggestions:

      -I’ve seen people say it is easier to get a job in your home country with a company that has offices or is based in France and then transfer after some time.
      -Here also are some sites I used to look for jobs in English in Paris:
      Jobs In
      The Local
      And has some in English too
      Also LinkedIn, but I don’t think you can filter by jobs that don’t require French.
      -Finally, I know a number of people in Paris who telework/work for companies back in their home country remotely. Not sure if that is an option in your industry, but plenty of people do that here and work in English.

      Good luck! -Charli

  • Hi Charlianne!

    I always find your site so helpful and also the additions from other people about how their experiences vary. I thought I’d share my initial experience getting my initial VLS.

    I am American but live in Peru. I married my French partner 2.5 weeks ago in France and plan to move to France in the next year or two full time (in the meantime I will be predominantly in France but still coming back to Peru to tend to my business here)

    Anyway, I had to apply for my VLS in Peru. I requested my appointment as soon as I could and at the appointment I arrived early and was let in. I handled 98% of the interview in my not perfect but good enough French. The gentleman there asked me questions about my relationship and how we met (because of our unique logistical situation). I provided him with a copy of my passport and my residency card for Peru. I presented him with a copy of my marriage certificate and a copy of our livret de famille (I brought all originals as well just in case but he didn’t care about them). I brought copies of my husband’s passport and his National ID (I was worried he may ask for originals but he didn’t, which is nice considering my husband lives in france and not with me currently). He asked when I planned to go back to France and I told him and he asked me for my ticket. Luckily, I had read on here that they could ask for flight confirmation so I printed that out.

    The ONLY thing that threw me for a loop is he asked for a lettre de motivation. (I thought that was only needed if you wanted a long visa as a single person, that you would need a letter from your host in the country). This piece of information was not at ALL listed on my requirements provided by the French visa site via the embassy website. He said I could either ask my husband to write one and email it to him or I could print it out and bring it back during open hours from 11-12. I opted for bringing it in person and called my husband at work and asked him to write one. The gentleman at the embassy said it didn’t have to be a novel, a simple 10 lines or so explaining our history and our future projects and desires together. It had to be written by my husband. So he wrote it and I printed it and I scrambled back and didn’t think to have it signed. So the guy asked where his signature was and I think I probably seemed really frazzled and he said give me his email, I’ll email him about it. He also asked for his cell number, which was already provided on the letter. As soon as I left, I asked my husband to sign it and email it to the visa center anyway to make the guy’s life a little easier. I was told to come back starting two weeks from my appointment during open hours from 11-12 Monday thru Friday.

    I mainly thought to share this because maybe some people wouldn’t have thought to bring a lettre de motivation. Maybe he asked because my situation is strange with me living in Peru but being from the US and having a recent marriage to a French man. He asked what my partner does for a living and asked why I lived in Peru and for how long etc etc.

    Not sure if this info will be of help to anyone else, but am happy if it is! Immigration processes always make me nervous, any and all info that people can have going into these experiences is wonderful! Thanks again for all that you’ve provided everyone!

    • Kelly thank you for sharing you experience — hopefully will be helpful others in the future! Good luck with your process.

  • Charli thank you for this amazing post. You are incredibly helpful.

    I always like to comment when good things happen because often readers only see worse case scenarios. I am applying tomorrow in NYC.

    I would like to note for readers that the marriage transcription can sometimes be relatively quick. We applied in mid-September and got it back in 3 weeks on the dot. This was after we e-mailed earlier to ask for a time frame and received a response of 6-8 weeks due to heavy volume.

    Thank you Charli!

    • Thanks for the comment Daniel! From what I’m hearing, everything visa/immigration related is veeeeerrrry backed up right now in France because so many people are trying to change their status ahead of Brexit. A lot of anxiety. So, glad to hear something happened relatively quickly.

  • Hello, I was wondering how soon you could start working once you received your visa long sejour in NYC?
    My French gf and I are going to get married in France and plan to move to Paris. We are planning to come back to the US to apply for the Visa Long Sejour (VLS-TS) because it sounds like the process is much faster from the US consulates.

    Now, I am only wondering how soon I can start working in France with the VLS-TS. Thank you very much ahead of time! Merci beaucoup!

  • Thanks for the informative post, I have a quick question. I recently got married here in France, after the wedding we were given a folder with a whole lot of origninal copies of extrait d’acte de mariage, certificat de célébration de mariage, and copie integrale d’acte de mariage. Am I able to use one of these for the French marriage certificate required for the visa or do I need to order one online (perhaps it’s different) from the site you linked?

  • Thanks so much for your extremely helpful article! I just had my visa appointment yesterday and i had all the documents needed. The only change is that the consulate no longer handles visa applications, there is a visa application center who handles everything now for them. Easy procedure if you have all of your paperwork. Now the waiting begins!

  • All French visas in the US and many other countries are now handled by an external company called VFS.Global. They have offices all over the country and in many other countries. I can’t say if every country uses them, but dozens do.

    You fill out the visa application online on the French Governnment website and print it out, along with the application confirmation page.

    You next make an online appointment with the VFS,

    To make the appointment you have to create an account and pay the VFS fee up front, which is $38. The VLS spouse visa is free. Print out the appointment confirmation page and bring it with you. You can change the appointment ONE time. I’m not sure if you can get a refund of the fee if you have to change it a second time.

    I brought all the paperwork listed above and my appointment was quick, about 40 minutes in total. Even though I selected an 11am appointment time, the appointments are not exclusive. You still get a ticket and wait in line. I arrived 45 minutes early and called within 20 minutes. The appointment only took 10 minutes. I didn’t bring a photocopy of the Livret de Famille but I had the book with me. VFS charges $1 per page for photocopies, but I was nice with the lady and she didn’t charge me. I told the lady that I wanted to pickup my passport myself and gave her my phone number to send status notifications. I wouldn’t rely on it if you are in a hurry as the messages came to my phone after I picked up my passport.

    I had to sit and wait 10 minutes for the biometrics appointment. The guy called my name (not the ticket number) and brought me into a small room where he took my fingerprints and my photo. Be advised, it is a requirement in France for official photos to show your ears, so arrange your hair accordingly. My hair was a bit long and had to be tucked behind my ears where it kept falling off. I was planning on getting my haircut before the appointment but I didn’t get around to it. The guy took perhaps 15 photos to get one that was acceptable.

    I was given a long receipt (like from Walmart) that had an odd looking tracking number that I could check the status of the submitted visa on the VFS website. You cannot check the status on the French government website as the systems are not linked. <– link is under the section "Track your Application Status"

    I also received a paper receipt acknowledging the biometrics. The biobetrics receipt isn't needed for anything but I kept mine anyway. I checked the website several times a day for the status and noticed when they received the passports back from the consulate in Washington DC. The status changed at around 1pm, I took the train into the city and picked up my passport at 3pm. You can pickup your passport without an appointment when they are open, from 9am to 4pm Monday through Friday, except holidays.

    I was originally told that the wait could be up to 15 business days., or 3 weeks. I received my VLS-TS in NYC on February 6th after applying on January 30th. Of course it's the middle of winter so there are fewer people getting visas right now and the process could slow down significantly during tourist season. The validity date didn't start until 9 days later, perhaps because I listed my travel date as the 19th.

  • Hi, thanks for such a helpful post! My partner is French and we’re trying to move in together (in Paris) this summer. I’m an American citizen living in NYC. Let’s say we get married in France but can’t live together until I finish school. Once I’m done with school, we try to move in together. Does this visa require proof that we’ve lived together for a certain amount of time? And since my spouse is in France while I’m applying for a visa in NYC, I won’t be able to bring show his passport or national ID. Would a photocopy work or do they need originals? Also do we need to register the marriage in the US during a certain time period or does it matter if we wait? Thank you!

  • Hi, thanks for the helpful post! My partner is French, and we’re planning on moving in together soon (in Paris). Let’s say we get married in France, but we can’t move in together until I finish school. So after I finish school, I’m trying to get a visa at the consulate in NYC. I don’t need any sort of proof that says we’ve been living together for a certain period of time, right? Also, since my partner is in France while I’m applying for a visa in NYC, I won’t be able to have his passport or national ID with me. Will the consulate accept photocopies or do they want originals? Thanks!

    • Coucou ! Photocopies of his passport/ID card are fine! I brought originals and they just made photocopies there.

      Just on the marriage in France, double check that you’ll be able to do it since one of you will have to be a resident for at least 30 days before the marriage (not just a citizen). We had a city hall marriage in NYC and then did our wedding wedding in France 2 years ago!

      • Hi Liz, the residency limitation is only for couples that don’t include (at least) one French resident getting married.

  • When I did the same process last year in NYC, they only asked for a copy of his national identity card in person (although I had his physical card that he sent by mail just in case). Just some background: I’m an American and my husband is French. We got married in April 2018 in France (I used my vacation time from work for the ceremony) and then returned to the USA to apply for spouse visa. I moved to France in the summer although my visa was approved two weeks after my appointment.

    • If you get married in France, is there a period of time in which you must register this marriage in the US? Are there any benefits to doing this?

  • Charli,
    My wife and I are preparing to spend about a year in France. We discovered recently that the consulate in Atlanta has closed its Visa office. Now all Visa applications go through the online site
    Thanks for your site…great information!

    • Hello chris, i also thought the Atlanta office was closed, but it when you do your online application, and it ask you where, then you can check Atlanta, i was just there in April 2019.

  • Charlianne,

    Thank you so much for this well summarized post. I’ve read it through many times and referred to this the whole time I was in the process of getting a long stay visa.
    I finally got a visa from San Francisco VFS center. I wanted to thank you for your blog, which helped me understand the process so much more.
    We are moving to Bordeaux in 8 weeks, I’m sure I’ll follow along your next posts!
    Have a wonderful night.

  • Hi I am American and I married my french husband in Sept 2018 in the US. Could you please tell me the procedure in getting my Marriage certificate transcribed in the French consulate so I can get the livret de famile. what documents do I need to bring to get our US Marriage certificate transcribed and recognized in France?

  • Great post Charli, very informative. I stumbled my way through the process before actually falling down at the appointment because I did not have a copy of the “Transcription du mariage sur les registres de l’état civil consulaire français” with me. It was entirely an oversight on my part, somehow in my mind I had thought that the Livre de Famille (which showed that our marriage had been certified by France already) would suffice. You post helped me find how to order a copy, so thank you.

    My situation is slightly different, I’m Australian and married my Frenchman in Australia. I applied for and received my visa in Montreal through VFS. But the process, and types of documents needed for the application, is by and large as you described in your post, and the appointment similar to what fellow commenter Greg ( 9 Feb 2019) described, including the biometrics experience. I was asked to sign a paper stating that I understood that the visa could take up to 30 working days to process, but told verbally that in reality, current processing time in Montreal is 10 days. I received my visa in 9 days.

    A question – from the France visas website, it states that once in France, there are some additional administrative procedures to undertake. There is a description for two types of long-stay visas:
    – Long-stay visa with the obligation to apply for a residence permit
    – Long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit (VLS-TS)
    Do you know which one the Visa Long sojourn falls into? My visa looks exactly like the one you’ve included at the beginning of your post.
    Thanks so much.

    • Mine was a VLS, that then became a VLS-TS once I got my stamp from the OFII. It was valid for one year and I needed to apply for the carte de sejour before it expired. I don’t remember these two descriptions as being part of my process, perhaps it is not the same for Americans. But mine was definitely a VLS-TS.

      • Hello,

        A quick question. My girlfriend who’s French and resides in France and I plan to get married around January 2020 in France. My question is can I go over and marry her on a tourist Visa ? Or do I need something else just to go over and get married.. We understand the necessary paperwork etc etc to officialy get married (kinda)lol



        • Hi Jason, if you are American, you can get married on your tourist visa but you must return to the USA before the end of your 90 day stay. I did exactly this last year when I married my French husband. We got married in France on my tourist visa and then I returned to the US after the wedding to apply for the spousal visa. Good luck!

      • Thanks, it was the latter, ie “Long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit (VLS-TS)” and the entire validation process, including buying the stamp was done online.

  • Hello, this is so helpful, its been difficult finding info. I was wondering if they accept copies of your spouse’s Passport. My spouse is in France and theres no way she would mail her passport to the USA lol.

    • People in the comments have said they used a photo copy, though the list just says passport. I’d call your regional office to check.

  • Hi Charli! Thanks for writing about this topic, its been so helpful! I just have a few more questions I’m hoping you can help me with. I can not find any information on the internet regarding how to register our American marriage with a french embassy and I was wondering if you know a bit about the process. We married in the US a year ago and we were unable to register our marriage until now. As you already know in order to get the long-stay visa, I need our livret de famille. My second question is, do I need the O.F.I.I form if I am intending to only stay one year in France? I can not find the O.F.I.I form anywhere on the internet either. Thank you for your time!!

  • Hi there,

    I’m a French citizen with US naturalization and my boyfriend is an American. We are older and have been living in NYC for 30 years. We can no longer afford to live in New York, my boyfriend hates the heat and humidity so Florida is out of the question. As for me I don’t really want to be sitting in front AC all year round in Florida.
    We also realize when traveling to France once a year, in Normandy actually (NOT PARIS), the cost of living is much lower than New York or Paris, plus food quality is so much better. We are foodies and to us it’s all about good food and wine! So we are considering buying an appartment in Rouen or a nice town in the suburbs. The weather is much better there now too, it’s like the South of France has moved to Normandy because of global warming
    The only problem is my boyfriend’s health. He’s retired on Social Security disability and Medicare. He must have immediate access to physicians and prescription drugs basically the day the plane lands. We are not married but can do so anytime. If we were to get married, would he be able to some sort of French residency green card that gives him healthcare? And how long would the process would take once we are married? Is this doable? Thank you.


    • Hi Anne Marie, a person must establish residency before they are eligible for the national securitie sociale system. That is normally three months, though I have heard it is possible to get it earlier if you have a job. If you marry, he would be eligible after three months through his residency visa. In the meantime private insurance would be necessary.

  • Hello! Thank you so much for your posting it has been so helpful for me as I work towards this visa. I received a 1 year visitor visa in April of 2019 and moved to France and my then fiancé and I were married in August of 2019. I have a question I’m hoping you can help me with, on the application form it asks for number 17. “The Applicant’s home address” and since I have been living in France on a 1 year visitor visa I’m wondering if I should put the address that I’ve been living at in France or my address in the United States? It also asks on number 20. “If you are resident in a country other than the country of current nationality, please state: Number of residence permit, date of issue, and valid date” I’m wondering if the visitor visa counts as a residence permit?

    Any advice and help you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!!!

  • Hello Luella,
    I also am married to a French national but I’m American and we got married this past February, in America. I now am working on gathering all my information to apply for a Long Stay Visa so that I can move to France.
    I also totally overlooked this and didn’t realize that we are required to provide the ‘Transcription du mariage su les registres de l’etat civil consulaire francais’ as well as the Livret de Famille, We have our Livret de Famille and I had thought this was all that was needed. I see that in the very informative post above from Charli, there is a link in which apparently you can order this Transcription du mariage, but instead of doing this, do you know if I can just go to the “town hall” (marie) of the town in which I live (La Valette du Var) and obtain this ‘transcription du mariage’ that I need? Or is this something that you can only get from ordering it from the website ?
    Because I’m currently in France right now, and am planning to return to USA in August before my 90 days is completed, to go to the embassy and apply for my long stay visa so that I can move to France. So I’m wondering if this document I need is something I can just get directly from the town hall here in France.

    I greatly look forward to your answer, or from anyone else.
    Merci beaucoup! 🙂

  • Hi Charli,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful information you posted. I am planning to move to France by early next year. I have a 5 years valid type C Schengen visa issued by French consulate in my home country, visa ( court sejour circulation) duration of stay 90 days. Will this type visa allow me to process my application for French residency ?


  • Thanks so much for this information.

    As of 3/3/2021: I went to VFS Global to submit all of my docs. My wife and I were married in 1996, I am American, and she is French. It seems like our documents needed were slightly less, as we did not have to submit the OFII form. One point that was very hard to clarify, and VFS could not help me, was weather or not I needed to take an additional health insurance policy. (I took one just to be sure my Visa did not get denied, but it wasn’t cheap, as I took it for a 365 day period )

    It would be nice if the consulate, or VFS Global had links with companies that they use, such as translators, insurance agencies, etc. And a crystal clear list of what is actually needed, and what is not would be a dream come true.

    Fingers crossed, I’ll be approved soon. As of now, they are quoting 2 weeks.

    C’est la vie.

  • Thank you so much for this. I was very confused and found little information about this specific process . My experience was similar to yours, the only difference was that they didn’t ask me any questions about my husband or my life in NYC. And I was asked for the VISA.


  • Hello! I share this to help anyone reading; this blog post and comments were very helpful throughout my process!
    This residency limitation is also for couples that include at least one French citizen getting married.
    I am an American; my French partner and I have been living in India for many years. We returned to France at the end of 2021 to be married. For the mairie (town office) to perform the wedding, either he or I had to be in that area for at least 30 days prior to the wedding. This caused some trouble for us, as we were leaving his home in December to work in Saint Veran (near Italy). We wanted to be married in Saint Veran, but wouldn’t be there for 30 days before our wedding date in January (I was flying back to the US just after to get my Spouse Visa). We ended up returning to his hometown for the ceremony (since he had been there 30 days already)…

    Hope this is helpful!

  • Hi! Thank you for posting this, i see you have helped many people! My mother-in-law got her long stay visa because she is married to a French citizen and they are moving to France, she came to the US (out of the Schengen territory) (she is also American) to visit and she has spent more than 90 days in the us while having her French long stay visa. She is going back to France next week because someone told her of a 90-day rule, something about not being able to be out of France more than 90 days while on this visa, do you know any of this? I can’t find anything online regarding this and we would loke to know more. please help!

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