Before the Move Expat Life Paperwork

French Visas

Paris

Applying for Our Visas

We had our visa appointments a couple days ago. I’m relieved to be done with this step, but terrified of being turned down. I won’t know how it goes for a couple weeks at least, but we’ve done everything we can at this point. It’s out of our hands.

I’d like to share a little about the process. The info is hard to find and some isn’t even available anywhere! I’ve emailed the consulate in DC many times for answers, I’ve researched endlessly. Just know, this is all information for visas from the US.

The kids and I are applying for long term visitor visas. I wasn’t sure if this was the right visa, but the consulate assured me it is. My husband will be a freelance web developer and is applying for the Profession Libérale visa.

To start the process, you need to go to the French visa website.

There is a link to figure out whether or not you need a visa. This is a great starting point. There’s a link below it to start your visa application. Go through the steps. They’re pretty straight forward. You’ll need to create an account and then fill out the application. At the end, it will give you a list of documents you’ll need to bring with

For both types of visas, the first few items are the same: application form, signed and dated (you’ll print this out when you finish the online application,) ID photograph, proof of legal status if you aren’t a US citizen, and travel document (passport.)

Visitor Visas

The visitor visas need proof of residence (we used our Airbnb itinerary for the first month and I attached a note to it explaining that we were staying here while searching for a rental.)

We also needed proof of funds. For this, we attached a letter from Carlos stating that he would be covering our costs and explaining that he would be freelancing. He wrote that he already had contracts and what he was already making from them. We attached the contracts and three months of bank statements. I also had to write a note saying that I will not be working in France.

Health insurance. The whole time we were planning this, we only needed this to cover the first three months. After three months we can apply for French health insurance. Well, that changes last minute. Now, visitor visas need to be covered for the length of the stay. We had to come up with enough money to cover us for a year. It was a mess, we were panicking. It wasn’t fun.

But we figured it out and we got it. The insurance needs to offer repatriation, emergency and hospital treatment, minimum of €30,000 in coverage and €0 deductable. We used IMG and once you purchase the insurance, they have a link for visa letters to prove that your covered.

For the minor visitor visas, we also needed birth certificates. Proof of enrollment in school was on the list, but we can’t enroll until we know exactly where we will live. They will be in French public schools. We had to sign something at VFS stating that we did not have this info. Hopefully that doesn’t hurt our chances.

Profession Libérale Visa

For the Profession Libérale visa, it was pretty much the same, but it didn’t say anything about insurance. We bought him a year though since the rest of us were going to have it. All the rest was the same; application, ID photograph, passport, proof of residence, proof of funds, and then the website just says to contact the consulate for exact requirements. This is what the consulate told me we needed:

“A business plan, clearly illustrating your project in France, as well as any documents justifying your ability to run such project (copy of degrees, CV, letters of interest/contracts from potential clients in France…)

Proof that you can generate enough income from your activity to fund all your expenses whilst in France”

We already knew he’d need a business plan, so that was ready to go. It was just a small business plan and we added in financial projections for the year. The proof of funds was easy, since he had the contracts, and bank statements showed the income from the company that’s already paying him. The only problem was that right now he’s an employee, so taxes are being taken out. That means that the amount on our bank statements is less than he’ll get paid once he switches to an independent contractor, so we explained that in a letter also.

A Few More Tips

That’s pretty much it. Just a few notes that will hopefully be helpful. Don’t worry about organizing your file with staple, paper clips and post-its. VFS removed every last one. The passport pictures we had worked for the ID photographs, but she mentioned that she had to cut them smaller. Also, make sure you are not smiling in these photos. Make sure your mouth is closed. We had to redo all the kids’ pictures there and it was $10 each. On top of that, Finn was completely snapping at this point so he was crying his eyes out while we tried to get a picture. He had to be standing against the wall, we couldn’t be holding him. It was a stressful day full of bored kids, trains and Ubers, 17 floor elevator rides, and so much waiting. I hope it will all be worth it and that we’ll be approved.

My biggest worry is that we didn’t have the amount equal to French minimum wage for a year in savings, but we have his income, which comes out to a bit over double that. I hope it’s enough. I’ll update this post as soon as we find out. 🤞

Update

So, my fear was spot on. We don’t make enough money. $66 a day per adult if renting. $33 a day per kid. Outrageous. Rent is way cheaper there then it is here, so that makes no sense to me. We were denied. As stubborn as were are, we aren’t taking no for an answer. We have hired a wonderful service to help us apply again. Once we get there, this company will help with all administrative tasks, help us find a rental, basically all the help we could ask for. So far they have gone above and beyond and I would highly recommend them. Check out Please Help if you need any kind of assistance. I’ll update again after we get a response from the consulate. I’m not happy that we have to go through the VFS fun again, but hopefully it’ll be smoother this time.

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