Hindsight is 20/20: Applying for and receiving your Visa (carte de long séjour)

If you are not an EU citizen then it is absolutely, positively, and certainly obligatory to get a visa, specifically une carte de long séjour travailleur temporaire. Yes, that is a ridiculously long title for a visa, but c’est la vie.

In order to apply for a visa, you need a few things first:

  • a passport, that is valid at least 6 months after you plan on coming back from France
  • one copy of the identity pages of your passport
  • your arrêté de nomination, aka your contract, make sure that the stamp from the French authorities, specifically the French Ministry of Labor, is on your contract and clear
  • a copy of your contract
  • one application form, which is to be downloaded and filled out from the French Consulate website
  • one passport style photo – make sure that it is the correct size, format, and that it is clear. Blurry photos will not be accepted.
  • one residence form, which is also to be downloaded and filled out (just the top portion) from the French Consulate website
  • A self-addressed, pre-paid EXPRESS MAIL envelopedo not use FedEx or UPS and do not stick the mailing label on the envelope. The French Consulate will do that.
  • appointment booking confirmation 
  • Flight itinerary for your departure to France – not completely necessary but a good idea to bring in the case that you already purchased your flights

If you are not sure what all is required or if you want to be completely certain of the documents required, then you need to go to the French Consulate website of the Consulate that manages your state. Unsure which consulate you should go to? Check out this link to know exactly which consulate you need to make your appointment with.

The type of visa that is required is considered a Long Stay Visa for ”lecteurs” and ”assistants.” Do not fill out the application for a Long Stay Visa to Work in France if you are going to be working as a lecteur or assistant, because as a lecteur or an assistant the application fee is completely waived!

When making your visa appointment, you need to do the following:

  • Figure out which consulate you need to go to using the link that I put up above. For example, I’m from Indiana, so I had to make my appoint with the Chicago French Consulate. If you are not from the United States, you can still use the internet to Google where you would need to go for your closest French consulate.
  • Once you figure out which consulate you need to go to, go to the website specifically for that consulate to book your appointment.
  • To book your appointment, click on the following:
    • Visas for France
    • Long Stay Visas for ”Lecteurs” and ”assistants”
    • scroll all the way down to the section that says ”How to make an appointment” – it is also on this page where you can download the visa application form, the residence form (immigration form/OFII), and double check exactly what documents will be required.
    • then you would click on the ”make an appointment” link
    • it will open a new tab, in which you will click on the ”book an appointment” link on the left-hand side
    • You will need to accept the General Conditions to move forward and then click next
    • From there you can choose a date and a time for your appointment and then you click next
    • Next you will probably have to give your email address as well as print out the booking confirmation page – keep and bring the confirmation booking page with you to your appointment. It shows proof that you have an appointment with the Consulate. 
    • You can return to this appointment page to change your appointment time in the case that you would need to.
  • Come prepared to your appointment date at the French Consulate at least 15 minutes to half an hour before your appointment time with all of your documents

Some things to consider when booking your visa appointment:

  • You will most likely have to travel to your visa appointment, so keep in mind travel time
  • They are not open on the weekends, so you will most likely have to take a day off work/school (if you are still taking University classes)
  • Book your visa appointment ASAP! August/September is also a very popular time for study abroad students to apply for their visas, so visa appointments tend to get booked up fast! Even though you can’t apply for your visa until you have your contract, you can still book your appointment before you receive it and set it for a date when you feel mostly certain that you will have it and then change it later if things change.

Filling out the Visa Application Form:

  • You can download the form in either French or English
  • You need to fill in the basics:
    • Last/Surname
    • former last/ Surname – If it changed for some reason, such as if you had gotten married
    • First name
    • Birthday in this order: day-month-year, make sure not to put it month-day-year like in the States.
    • Your place of birth – I put city and state or just your State/Region/Province will suffice
    • Your country of birth
    • Your current nationality 
    • Your nationality at birth, if it was different than it is currently
    • Your sex – male or female
    • Your civil state – married, single, separated, divorced, or widow(er)
    • If you are a minor, which I’m sure most of you aren’t, the Name and Address of your legal guardian/parent
    • Your national identity number – In the United States we don’t technically have this. The closest thing we have is our social security numbers, which is what I put.
    • The type of travel document you will be using, most likely your passport
      • The French form says ”passport ordinaire”, choose this option
    • The number of your travel document
    • The issue date of your travel document
    • The expiration date of your travel document – Make sure it is valid at least 6 months after you plan on returning from France
    • Who issued your travel document – For example, my passport was issued by the USA
    • Your address in your home country
    • Your email address
    • Your phone number 
    • If you live in a country other than your nationality, then you need to put the number of your visa, when it was issued, and when it expires
  • You need to fill in information about your current job:
    • What is your current job
    • The name, address, phone number of current employer 
    • The name and address of your school if you are currently still in University 
    • The reason why  you are applying for a visa – On the French application, one of the options reads “Activité Professionnelle”, choose this one.
  • Information about your job in France – most of this information should’ve arrived with your arrêté de nomination
    • The name, address, and phone number of the inviting employer/establishment – for this you should put the name, address, and if you can find it, the number for the main school on your contract
    • What your address will be in France – Now, chances are that you won’t know this yet. So, you can do one of two things: Put down the address of the main school with which you will be working or put down the address of the Rectorat in charge of your Académie, for example le Rectorat de Nantes for l’Académie de Nantes. Do not stress too much about this part because as long as you have something, they really don’t look at it. They also will see your contract, so they know that you are already guaranteed work in France.
    • The date of your intended entrance into France/the Schengen Zone – If you are going to be entering into the Schengen Zone before you enter into France, then put that date, not the date you plan on arriving in France. This will be important for later. For example, I arrived in Iceland the day before I arrived in France. Since Iceland is a part of the Schengen Zone, then the date of my intended arrival in Iceland was the date I put. This is why it is extremely important to know your plans ahead of time. You don’t necessarily need to have purchased your tickets yet. It’s just wise to have your plans figured out before hand. If you are unsure which countries are in the Schengen Zone, check at this link.
    • The amount of time you plan on staying in France
    • If you plan on carrying out your stay in France with family members, then you need to write down their relationship to you, their first and last names, their birth dates, and their nationalities
  • Information about how you will financially support yourself in France:
    • Write down your job title, how you will be earning money in France – For example as an assistant, I put assistante d’anglais dans un lycée et un collège
    • Whether or not you will be receiving a scholarship while you are France, probably most likely not.
    • Whether or not someone else will be taking care of you – If yes, then you need to write down their name, their nationality, their address, and their telephone number.
    • If you have any family members that live in France – If yes, you have to write down their name, their address, their relationship to you, and their telephone number.
  • Information about whether or not you have lived in France for more than 3 months before
    • If yes, you must give the dates and the reasons – For example, I studied abroad in Nantes, France from January 2013 to May 2013.
    • You must also give the address at which you lived during that time
  • Sign and date the application with the place in which you signed it, yes the city in which you signed it. This is how France signs things.

Filling out the residence form (aka the immigration form/OFII form): 

  • You must only fill in the top portion of the form before you go to your Visa appointment with the following information 
    • Your name of birth – your family/last/surname that you were born with
    • Your spouse’s name, if you are married, if not leave it blank
    • Your first name
    • Your sex – male or female
    • Your birth date – remember day-month-year!
    • The city in which you were born
    • The country in which you were born
    • Your nationality 
    • Your civil state – married, single, separated, divorced, widow(er)
    • Your father’s first and last name
    • Your mother’s first and maiden name
    • Your passport number
    • The issue date of your passport
    • The expiration date of your passport
  • Leave the box for the Consulate to fill out
  • Leave the bottom portion for when you get to France

Going to your visa appointment: 

  • Arrive at least 15 to 30 minutes early!
  • Make sure to have all of your necessary documents!
  • When you arrive, if it’s anything like the Chicago consulate, there will be a reception desk on the ground floor to which you give your appointment confirmation sheet and show them your passport
  • Once you arrive in the office, you put in the piece of paper (if you get one from the reception) in the necessary box and wait for your name to be called
  • Once your name is called, you give them all of your documents
  • They will then verify your documents
  • They might ask you a few questions, such as if you plan to stay in France after the end of your contract, when you plan to arrive in France/the Schengen Zone, etc.
  • Then, they will take your picture
  • Then, they will give you a receipt – They will take your passport, but you will get it back, I promise! 
  • Then, they will send you on your merry way, and your visa/passport should arrive in 1 to 4 weeks!

If you have all of your required documents, you should not have any problems, and the appointment should go quite fast. That’s also why you should show up early so that you can get in and get out quickly. If you are not there at your appointment time, they will not wait for you! They will skip over you and go to the next person, either making you wait longer or making you book another appointment, which can be a nightmare.

Even though the visa is a lot of paperwork and can take up some time, it’s pretty straightforward if you have everything you need and you follow these steps.

I promise that it’s quite simple and mostly stress free. Assistants do this every year and end up getting into France just fine. So, don’t fret! Just be responsible and follow the rules!

Good luck!





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