How to get a long-stay visa to stay in France for more than three months at a time
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Frustrated that you can no longer stay at your French holiday home as long as you’d like following Brexit? Here’s our guide to French long-stay tourist visas
Before Brexit, many British owners of French holiday homes, especially retirees, were used to nipping across the Channel and spending as much as half the year at a time at their properties.
Now that we have left the EU, however, UK tourists are restricted to spending no more than 90 days in any 180-day period visiting the Schengen area visa-free.
If you want to stay longer as a visitor, you’ll need a long-stay visa. There are two types for visitors:
VLS-T (Visiteur) – The visa de long séjour temporaire ‘visiteur’ (VLS-T Visiteur) entitles you to stay for between three and six months, so this is the visa type that will be most useful to second home owners hoping to spend the warmer months of the year in France. You must leave France when it runs out but can reapply on an annual basis from the UK.
VLS-TS (Visiteur) – The visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour ‘visiteur’ (VLS-TS Visiteur) entitles you to stay for between six months and a year and is equivalent to a residence permit. This is the type of visa that will be particularly useful to people who want to try out France before moving there, although it does not permit you to work. On arrival in France, you must validate this visa through the French immigration office (OFII). You will have to pay a fee understood to be around €200 and the OFII reserves the right to call you for a meeting to carry out other formalities such as a medical examination and/or welcome visit. In the two months before the VLS-TS expires, you have the option of submitting a residence permit application to your local préfecture.
What are the requirements?
To obtain either of these long-stay visas, you must apply online and undergo an interview at a French Consular office in London, Manchester or Edinburgh. Both types of visa cost €99 (about £86) and there may also be a smaller service fee. You’ll be required to provide several documents and assurances, including that you won’t engage in any professional activity during your stay.
If your spouse or long-term partner is an EU citizen, you will still to apply for a visa but it likely that it will be more straightforward than if you are not in such a relationship.
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At the interview, you will need to:
*Show your passport was issued less than 10 years ago and that it will still be valid at least three months after the expiry date of the visa you’re requesting
*Provide a passport photo
*Promise not to undertake any professional activity in France and prove your socio-economic situation (eg working/retired)
*Show you have travel health insurance for the duration of the visa’s validity
*Provide proof of your property title or rental agreement. If you are staying with hosts, you must prove that they are resident in France.
*Provide the last three months’ worth of bank statements for your UK current account, showing your full name and address, and proving you have enough funds for the whole duration of the trip (see below), or traveller’s cheques presenting the same guarantees. If you are financially sponsored by your spouse/partner, you must provide a marriage certificate and your partner’s bank statements.
What are the income requirements?
Whichever long-stay visa you are applying for, you must prove you have sufficient financial resources to support yourself for the period of its validity.
This means an income equivalent to at least the net French minimum wage, known as the salaire minimum de croissance or SMIC. Currently in 2021, the net figure (meaning after deduction of social security contributions) is €1,231 per month. The good news is that it’s not necessary to have this amount per person. The French Consulate told us that this figure of SMIC net (currently €1,231 a month) would suffice for a couple with three children. For larger families, you will be expected to have slightly higher resources but our understanding is that this will not be very much.
Money from pensions, rental income and/ or savings are taken into account. What the authorities want to see is that your resources are secure, stable and easy to access during your stay. They may accept a monthly income slightly below SMIC if you are able to prove you own your property outright and are therefore not paying a mortgage or rent.
How do I apply?
You must apply online no earlier than 90 days before you are due to arrive in France.
The application is done through two separate websites. First, register with france-visas.gouv.fr and start your application, recording for each applicant the application reference number that starts with FRA1.
Next, you should be directed to the TLS website and asked to register. Complete the next part of the application for each person, confirm this part is complete and get a firm appointment with TLS at one of its visa applications centres (London, Edinburgh or Manchester). Once this is done, submit your application and prepare the documents required for your interview.
I need some support
Spokesman Alan Jones says integration between the France Visas website and the TLS site is not intuitive but does work and that application screens on both websites are in English.
“You can create a group of up to six people to be processed together and have a single interview,” he adds. “You can save your application form at any point in the process and return to it later, though you will need to log in again. You can also correct errors. If you get it very wrong you can delete your application and start again.”
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