Long-stay visa and visitor residence permit: Explanations

Many foreigners wish to go to Europe to obtain a residence permit. Some choose to apply for a “private and family life” residence permit, sometimes without much success, others that of “pupil-student”, with a view to completing higher education, or even the “employee” residence permit, rarely granted. And finally, foreigners wishing to travel to the Schengen area for a period of 3 to 12 months will be issued a visa bearing the mention “visitor”.

Who is the long-stay “visitor” visa for?

the long-stay visitor visa is intended, in the vast majority, for foreign nationals who can prove sufficient means of existence and who undertake not to exercise any professional activity in France.

Since April 5, 2010, date of application of the Community Visa Code, foreigners holding a visa bearing the mention “visitor” can move freely, for a period of more than 3 months and a maximum of 12 months, in the entire Schengen area.

In addition to the visa fees provided for by the legislation of the country, the applicant will have to pay, if he goes to France, a tax to the French Office for Immigration and Integration (OFII). Payment of this fee to the OFII in no way guarantees the outcome of the application. In case of visa refusal, this amount will not be refunded!

To be able to obtain this famous sesame, the applicant must contact the French Consulate in his country of origin. He must also provide proof of sufficient means of existence to meet his expenses during his stay. A recent payslip and/or a recent work certificate, a retirement pension or an activity report for company directors. In addition to his own income, the applicant may also produce any certificates establishing that he may be cared for by a member of his family upon his arrival in France.

The long-stay visa is equivalent to a residence permit

This means that the foreigner with such a visa will not have to go to the Prefecture to apply for a residence permit. The only downside, however, and in accordance with the Franco-Algerian agreement of December 27, 1968 as amended, Algerian nationals will have to go to the Prefecture to obtain their one-year residence certificate.

Remember that this long-stay “visitor” visa does not allow its holder to work in France. A foreigner who has entered France as a “visitor” and wishes to work there may apply for another category of residence permit. This process must be introduced 2 months before the expiry of his one-year residence permit with the mention “visitor”.

This article is a contribution of Maître Fayçal Megherbi, lawyer at the Paris Bar.

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