What’s it like getting a visa to move to France post-Brexit and mid-pandemic?
A Brit shares his experiences of applying for a VLS-TS visa, the first step in obtaining residency in France
A member of our Living in France Facebook group has been sharing his experiences of obtaining a visa to move to France post-Brexit and mid-pandemic.
Dan Marsh, his wife Hannah and her parents moved from Dorset to Deux-Sèvres in early May, a month after receiving their VLS-TS (Visiteur) visas. This passport stamp entitles you to stay for up to a year in France, where you can then apply for residency.
The family made their online application on the French government’s visas website and its contracted partner for visas TLS in February. You can read more about the application process here.
At the end of March, they attended the required interview in south-west London, one of three TLS contact centres in the UK, the other two being in Manchester and Edinburgh. “It was all fairly straight-forward and six days after the interview we got the visas,” explained Dan.
The family were extremely careful to take all paperwork that might be required and more. There was no need to translate any of it into French. In their case it comprised:
*Passports and photocopies
*Proof of their visa application
*Proof of ownership of a house in France
*Signed letters confirming they had no intention of working for the duration of the long-stay visa (a requirement for a Visiteur visa)
*Proof of their income and economic status (they included their long-term funds as they will be taking early retirement)
*Proof of the address where they would reside (Dan and Hannah signed letters confirming they would be living with her parents as the property is in their names)
*Proof of health insurance
*Proof of home insurance and utility bills for the property in France in their names
*Proof of a French bank account
How to get a long-stay visa to stay in France for more than three months at a time
What are the rules for travelling to France post-Brexit?
Because the family are all taking early retirement from their previous careers, they applied for a visitor’s visa (Visiteur) which means they are not allowed to work during the validity of the visa. However, once they are established in France and able to apply for residency, they hope to change this so that they can run a gîte business in the future. The authorities were keen to check that Hannah was closing down her UK business and would not continue to run it from France.
Obtaining health insurance was not easy, says Dan. “We had some horrendous quotes, but in the end, we got a very basic policy just to get us through the visa application process. It’s costing my wife and I just under £1,200 for the year as we are under 30, and my parents-in-law just under £3,000 as they are over 50 but under 60.”
The interview process was well organised, but surprising, says Dan. “I thought it would be in an interview room but we were actually standing at a counter, a bit like at the bank,” he says. “Because there were four of us, it took more than 2.5 hours in total. After the interview, all our paperwork was put in a sealed bag and we were sent down the corridor to have biometric photos, thumbprints and fingerprints done. The people there took our paperwork and then off went and hoped for the best.”
Dan was delighted when their passports containing the visas were sent to them just six days later.
The only remaining hurdle was for the family to pass a Covid test less than 72 hours before leaving the UK. The family-of-four paid £700 for the PCR tests, including express delivery for the results. To their great relief, they all tested negative. On arrival in France, the family had to self-isolate for seven days (a requirement for all passengers) before taking another PCR test, which was done at a testing centre 20 minutes from their new home and cost a fraction of the price of the UK tests. “We only had to pay because we don’t have our own social security number yet,” explained Dan. “Thankfully, it was all negative, so we can now explore the local area. Absolutely loving the French way of life so far.”
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