How to Move to the South of France - How to Move to the South of France
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How to Move to the South of France

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Close to 19% of France’s population is comprised of foreign-born immigrants. The day after the 2016 presidential election, immigration websites to Canada and France crashed from a deluge of traffic. French president Emmanuel Marcon encouraged scientists and other academics to consider making France their home. If you’re interested in moving to the south of France, with its picturesque countryside and distinct, beautiful culture, there are a lot of things you need to consider. Mainly, the paperwork involved in moving to the south of France can be daunting, and it can be difficult to know where to start. Read on to find out how to move to the south of France with minimal hiccups and headaches. 

  • Find the nearest French consulate. 

For anyone wishing to visit France for three months or less, all you’ll need is a travel visa. But for those who want to move permanently, things can get a little more complicated. It can take up to five years to obtain permanent residency in France. 

The first thing you’ll need to do to begin your journey to permanent residency is to find the nearest French consulate. Unfortunately, French consulates are few and far between, so you’ll want to be prepared to travel. In most cases, one French consulate will serve a cluster of states. Once you locate the nearest consulate, you’ll want to figure out which type of visa you’ll need to move to France. 

What are the most popular French visas?

  • Spouse Visa

If you’re married to a French citizen, you can get a 12-month visa, but you’ll have to register at the Immigration Office within the first three months after you move to the south of France. Your registration and spouse visa will count as a proof of residence card. 

It can take up to three weeks for the Immigration Office to complete your registration and spouse visa, so don’t wait too long. The application is free, but you will need a lot of supporting documents to complete the registration. Documents include your proof of marriage, in English and in French, and also the completed application forms, proof your husband or wife’s French nationality, and a completed residence form. 

  • Work Visa

The most challenging part of obtaining a work visa is that you have to get a job in France first. Once you obtain a job, you’ll need to get your work contract approved by the French Labour Ministry, which is also part of the Immigration Office. If your family is coming with you on a work visa, you’ll need to have your French employer start a file for your family members, too. It can take up to three weeks to get a work visa approved. As far as documents go, you’ll need to complete the work visa application forms, residence forms, and you’ll also need to pay a processing fee of around $100.

  • Student Visa

Student visas only cost $50 and take about two weeks to process. But you will need a series of documents from Campus France, financial guarantees, and proof of enrollment plus other forms to get approved. 

  • Visitor Visa

If you’re staying for more than three months, but you don’t have a job in France, a French spouse, nor are you going to school in the country, then you’ll want to apply for a visitor visa. A visitor visa usually takes around one month for the Immigration Office to complete. You’ll need to complete a list of questionnaires, application forms, and a letter of explanation where you inform the authorities of what you intend to do while in the country. You’ll also have to tell the Immigration Office in writing that you will not work in France, show proof of how you will support yourself financially, proof of earnings, medical insurance, and accommodation. The processing fee is $100. 

  • Au Pair Visa

If you’re a student between 17 and 30 years old, you could apply for a year-long au pair visa. The French Ministry of Labour approves au pair contracts where you’ll need proof of an invitation from your host family, and you’ll also need to sign up for French language courses to get an au pair visa. 

Once you’ve stayed in France for a year, what can you do next to move to the south of France permanently?

You’ll want to apply for a residency permit at least two months before your visa expires. If you’re able to obtain a residency permit, you can legally stay in the country long-term. You’ll need supporting documents to take to the local prefecture to apply for a residency permit. What you’ll need to prove are things like:

  • Your family situation
  • Your financial resources
  • Proof of employment or a work contract
  • Your address

Sometimes the authorities will require more documents, but once you’ve lived in the South of France for at least five consecutive years, you’re eligible for a permanent residency. You’ll need documents to prove how long you’ve lived in France along with other supporting documents to show that you have a secure financial situation. Also, you’ll need to prove that you can speak French well enough to live there permanently. There’s some good information on the page here in regards to this.

The south of France is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and it is home to a rich and diverse culture. But with any international move, the paperwork is usually the most demanding part of obtaining permanent residency, and France is no different. Once you apply for a temporary, 12-month visa, make sure you keep your documents stored in a safe, accessible place and keep them organized. It’s also a good idea to make copies so that you are well-prepared to fill out the applications for permanent residency and get approved. 

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About The Author
Ab Kuijer

Radio, TV and advertising producer. Owner of an international marketing company. Lives in the South of France since 2006. Former President of the British Chamber of Commerce, later Riviera Business Club. Happily married to Jojo. Reads and writes 2000 words per day about different topics. With the Living on the Côte d'Azur platform, Ab and Jo together provide 'Good old Dutch' Service for buyers of real estate on the Côte d'Azur, Portugal, Mauritius, Italy and Ibiza.