STAYING IN FRANCE with a residence permit

While you need a visa to enter France, you must apply for a residence permit to be allowed to live in France. The type of residence permit you need depends on the reason for your stay.

Any foreigner who wishes to settle in France must be authorized to stay there.

Certain residence permits can be requested from French consular authorities in the country of origin or residence of the foreigner. If he resides in France, the foreigner must submit a request for a residence permit to the prefecture on which he depends. The presentation of a long-stay visa has become essential to obtain most residence permits.

The prefecture does not have the right to refuse to give a residence permit application file: in this case, it is imperative to contact a lawyer or a lawyer specializing in Foreigners’ Law.

Depending on the residence permit requested, the conditions to be fulfilled will be different, so it is important to be well informed before taking any steps.

The different residence permits and their characteristics

There are five main categories of residence permits which allow extended establishment in France: the long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit, the temporary residence permit, the multi-annual residence permit, the resident permit, and the “retired” residence permit.

Issued when a residence permit application is submitted and when it is renewed, its duration is variable BUT it must not be less than 1 month. The prefecture has 4 months to respond to a request for a residence permit, otherwise, its silence means implicit rejection of the request and a remedy can be exercised. 


The long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit

The long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit allows its holder to enter France on a regular basis. It is issued by French consular authorities in the country of origin or residence of the foreigner.

Since June 1, 2009, foreigners holding a long-stay visa as French spouses, visitors, students, employees, temporary or posted workers, no longer apply for a residence permit upon their arrival in France. Since October 1, 2011, foreigners who have come as scientists-researchers or trainees are also affected by this procedure. For beneficiaries of family reunification, the procedure entered into force on January 1, 2012.

For the foreigner to be able to stay regularly in France, the long-stay visa must be validated within 3 months of arrival on the territory. The long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit opens the same rights as the residence permit it replaces. It allows the holder to work.


The temporary one-year residence permit

It is generally valid for 1 year and can be renewed if the conditions allowing its issue are still met.

For example, when the foreigner has obtained a residence permit by marriage with a French national, this marriage must always exist, thanks in particular to the maintenance of common life, otherwise, the residence permit will not be renewed unless exceptions.

According to the mention it carries, the temporary residence card can authorize to work in France or even include a geographical and professional limitation. The period of validity of the temporary residence card cannot exceed that of the travel document (passport) presented by the foreigner to enter France: it is, therefore, essential to check the expiration date of the passport to have it extended if need.

This card is marked differently depending on the reason for settling abroad and, with exceptions, the long-stay visa is required to obtain it.


The multi-year residence permit

The CESEDA provides for the issuance to the newcomer holding a long-stay visa, the duration of which cannot exceed one year, of a multi-year residence permit with a duration of four years.

By exceptions:

  • Students are issued with a card, the duration of which will correspond to that of the planned course of study. The real and serious nature of the follow-up of studies will be taken into account according to the methods fixed by decree;
  • French spouses, parents of a French minor child residing in France, foreigners staying on French territory under the right to respect for private and family life as well as sick foreigners are issued a card for the duration of validity will be 2 years;
  • Sick foreigners holding a temporary residence card can obtain the issuance of a multi-year card covering the foreseeable duration of care;
  • The possibility of issuing a temporary residence permit with a maximum duration of 1 year is maintained for visitors, trainees, temporary workers and victims of trafficking in human beings.

The holder of a multi-annual residence permit must be able to prove that he continues to fulfill the conditions required for the issue of the permit, with the exception of the case of involuntary loss of employment. To this end, the administration may convene summons: if the person concerned does not give notice of the summons or is unable to demonstrate that the conditions which led to the issue of the permit are still met, withdrawal of his a residence permit or refusal to renew it may be invoked after a contradictory examination.

The law does not preclude the possibility of a change of status when applying for or renewing a multi-year residence permit. Thus, it is possible to request a multi-year residence permit for another reason than that previously invoked for obtaining the temporary residence permit. The change of status is however not possible for requests for multi-year “employee” or “entrepreneur / liberal profession” residence permits.


The resident card

It is valid for 10 years and authorizes you to work.

It is automatically renewable, with exceptions.

There are three types:

  • The resident card;
  • The “long-term EU” resident card;
  • The permanent resident card.


The “retired” residence permit

It is valid for 10 years, renewable.

It is issued to foreigners who have worked in France under the cover of a 10-year resident card and who, today, live abroad but receive a pension paid by the French State. Above all, this card allows easy movement between France and the country of origin, without authorizing a continuous stay in France for more than one year. The application for this card can be made to the French Consulate abroad.

The law of March 7, 2016, about the rights of foreigners, provides for the automatic issuance of a 10-year resident card to persons holding a “retired” residence card justifying their desire to settle in France and d ” reside there primarily.



The conditions of issuance depending on your activity.

The issuance of the residence permit is subject to common conditions including:

  • The foreigner must not pose a threat to public order;
  • The foreigner must not live in a situation of polygamy in France.

In addition, each residence permit also requires specific conditions of issue.




The card marked “visitor” is issued to the foreigner who proves that he can live on his own resources (professional activity abroad, pension, deposit provided by a solvent person …) and who takes the commitment not to exercise any professional activity in France even without authorization (art. L. 313-6).


Since March 1, 2019, the conditions for granting the card are however more rigorous. On the one hand, it is now required an amount of financial resources at least equal to the annual net minimum wage, being clarified that family benefits, RSA and allowances unemployment benefits are not taken into account to appreciate this amount. However, it is intended that when the resources are not sufficient, that a decision favorable to stay can be taken if the applicant justifies owning of their accommodation or enjoy it free of charge (art. R. 313-6).

Furthermore, he/she must justify the possession of health insurance covering the duration of the stay (art. L. 313-6) and therefore: either justify be covered by health insurance in their country of origin, i.e. take out private insurance, which could constitute a significant obstacle to obtaining this title. If the visitor has produced a long-stay visa to enter France, this is valid as a residence permit for the first year of his stay in France: he is therefore not required to request the delivery of a temporary residence permit only after one year.



The card marked “student” or “student mobility program ”is issued, under certain conditions, abroad studying or taking a course registration in France (art. L. 313-7). 

Since March 1, 2019, a card marked “Job search or business creation” is defined under certain conditions, to graduate students’ Masters’s level or researchers who have held a multi-year residence permit “researcher” talent passport (art. L. 313-8).



– A card marked “intern” is issued to the foreigner who follows an internship in France as part of an internship agreement. The internship agreement must be approved by the competent prefect and the trainee must have sufficient means of subsistence (art. L. 313-7-1) .

– A card marked “ICT intern” is granted to a foreigner who comes to France to make a secondment (within the meaning of article L. 1262-1 2 ° of the code of work) in a group establishment or company who employs him, provided that he proves a seniority at least six months in it, sufficient means and a higher education diploma. The convention must also be approved by the competent prefect (art.L. 313-7-2). The card is marked “mobile ICT intern” if the foreigner has obtained an ICT trainee card in the other Member State and carries out a mission to France from a duration greater than ninety days.


Salaried or self-employed Professional activity

Three main hypotheses must be distinguished (art. L. 313-10), depending on whether the worker is employed or not and depending on the duration of his employment contract.

1 ° The salaried workers under CDI. The card issued to foreigners with an open-ended employment contract covered by the Direccte bear the words “employee”. 

2 ° Salaried workers on fixed-term contracts. The card issued is marked “temporary worker”. The same card is given to employees posted to a foreign company outside the European Union which is not covered by the card “Talent passport”.

3 ° Self-employed workers. They receive a card from a temporary stay “entrepreneur / liberal profession” if their self-employed activity is economically viable and if they derive sufficient means of subsistence from it of the legislation in force. These provisions concern the foreigner whose activity requires registration with a directory of trades or the trade and companies, or at Urssaf.

In these three cases, if the foreigner has produced a visa long stay to enter France, this is worth the title of stay during the first year of his stay in France: he is therefore not required to request the issuance of a stay only after a year.


Au pairs

A law of September 10, 2018, set up, counting from March 1, 2019, a temporary residence permit “young to pair ”, in accordance with Directive 2016/801 / EU of May 11, 2016. Valid for one year and renewable once, it is intended to young people between the ages of eighteen and thirty, temporarily accommodated in a family of a different nationality and with whom he is not related, in order to improve his language skills and knowledge of France in exchange for light housework and childcare. The young person must establish that he has knowledge of basic French language, or that he has a level of secondary education or professional qualifications. The agreement concluded between the au pair and the host family must comply with a model fixed by decree.