Foreign parents of French children – how to become resident?

French ChildParents of a French child automatically benefit from a residence permit. They are among the categories of people against whom an Obligation to Leave the Territory (OQTF) decision cannot be executed.

Despite this, the proof to be provided to obtain the residence permit as the parent of a French child does not only take into account filiation with the child, but also the active participation of the foreigner in the maintenance and the education of the French child or children. These proofs are not the same depending on whether the foreigner is the mother or father of the child, as well as married or not to the French spouse. 

Entry into France: no marriage condition

Compared to the issue of other residence permits, the conditions for entry into France are less strict when the foreigner specifically requests a residence permit as the parent of a child French. Usually, a long-stay visa is requested from any foreigner wishing to settle in France before being able to apply for a first temporary residence permit.

As the parent of a French child, the application for a residence permit can be made using a long-stay visa, but also a short-stay visa, or even without regular entry into France*. 

Several conditions must then be met for the foreign person to obtain the residence permit, but marriage with the other parent is not necessary.

Filiation with a French child is less immediate for the father

In France, the first step in order to be able to claim to be a parent of French is to prove the relationship with this French child. 

For the mother, it’s simple, if she gave birth to the child and her name appears on the birth certificate, that is enough to establish a bond of filiation with the child.

For the father, there is a presumption of paternity when the couple is married, his name is automatically entered on the birth certificate according to the provisions of the civil code. In the absence of marriage, the man must initiate a process of recognition for the filiation to be established. This can be done before the birth, when declaring the birth, or after declaring the birth. The mother may very well not want to declare this father, either because the child is adulterous, or because she simply does not wish to declare the father on the child’s birth certificate, or for whatever reason that is. In this case, the recognition must be made according to the conclusions of a paternity test.

The contribution to the maintenance and education of the French child is less obvious outside marriage

The foreign father of a French child must prove that he himself contributes to the maintenance and education of this child since birth or for at least 2 consecutive years. This is valid if this man is married to the (French) mother of the French child, or if he is not. He does not have the obligation to live with this child in the event of separation.

Evidence of this contribution is more difficult for the mother when the child is born out of wedlock. The foreign mother must take the same steps as the foreign father, that is to say prove that she contributes to the maintenance and education of the child. This is sufficient if she is married to the father of the French child. On the other hand, if this child was born out of wedlock, the mother must also prove that the French father contributes to the upkeep and education of the child, that the latter continues to see him regularly, and above all that she on guard.

It is the community of life that takes precedence and not marriage

Applications for a residence permit as the parent of a French child meet well-established conditions. These conditions are:

  • The person making the request does not constitute a threat to public order, as for the issuance of any residence
  • permit Absence of polygamy in the couple.
  • The foreigner is the father or mother of a minor French child residing in France.

It is clear that the condition of marriage is not compulsory, it does not condition at all the obtaining of the residence permit, even if certain proofs can be more difficult to obtain, according to whether one is married or in cohabitation. Indeed the obligations towards the child are implied at the time of the marriage, likewise at the time of a concubinage when the parents live together. 

However, when the parents are separated, that is to say when there is no longer a community of life, this proof is more difficult to obtain, and it is particularly severe for the mother. Despite everything, even one of the highest courts in France did not question these conditions.


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