Much to my parents’ dismay, the day I turned 21, I took off on the back of a motorbike, across the arid Hay Plains, to start a new adventure in Sydney. I had outgrown my hometown, Adelaide, and was desperately in need of a challenge. Being in such an inspired, fast paced city was exactly what I needed. I thrived creatively and had the opportunity to reflect on what I wanted out of life and what I wanted to achieve. Fast-forward several years and I have accomplished a few things I set out to do, but my pathway has changed so dramatically and frequently, that most of those goals are still waiting to be achieved and many are no longer goals at all. Returning to Sydney seven years later to submit my application for a French Spouse’s Visa, is something I never imagined I would be doing. Though it was not part of my plan, I couldn’t be happier to return to one of my favourite cities to be applying for a visa that will allow me to live and work in my other cherished city- Paris.
French administration is notoriously painful and overly complicated. Each time I have to apply for a new visa I find myself completely baffled and overwhelmed with questions which no one can – or wants – to answer. For those of you who are Australian and have married or plan on marrying a French citizen, this post may be useful. This post aims to describe the visa application process and other details surrounding this specific visa. If you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment and hopefully I can help you.
What is a French Spouse’s Visa?
There is a specific available for Australians who have married a French citizen. The full name of the visa is Long Stay Visa for Foreign Spouse of a French Citizen. This visa allows you to both work and live in France.
Do I really have to return to Australia to apply?
Unfortunately, yes. If you get married in France while you are on a working holiday visa or during your 90 day visa-free period you will have to return to Australia and visit the embassy in Sydney. If you are already on a long stay visa or a student visa, you might be able to visit the prefecture and switch visas, although I’m not 100% sure on this. Chances are you will still have to return to Sydney.
Does marrying a French citizen entitle me to French citizenship?
Not straight away, although it can fast track the process. Normally you have to live in France 5 years before being able to apply for permanent residency or citizenship. This time is reduced to 3 years when you are married.
What is the Visa duration?
The initial visa is for one year. At the end of the year, a few months before the visa (carte de sejour) expires, you will need to visit the Prefecture and extend it. The period you can extend it for highly depends on the mood of the worker assisting you, normally though, they will extend it one year at a time.
How much does the visa cost?
How long does the visa take to process?
Roughly 2 weeks. I was lucky and received mine in a week and a half.
What do I need to apply?
Many, many things. Here is the link to the official list of required documents: http://www.ambafrance-au.org/Long-Stay-Visa-for-Foreign-Spouse. Make sure you follow this list! Double check that you have all the documents (the originals and copies) in the correct order. It takes a really long time to get an appointment at the embassy, if you forget one piece of paper you may have to wait up to two months for another appointment.
Any other documents I should bring?
Although it isn’t on the list, I recommend that you bring your Livret de Famille and all the copies of your wedding certificates, including the extract.
Is it really necessary to bring the original copies of your partner’s ID?
Unfortunately it is.
Do I have to wait until I’m back in Australia to apply for my Police Check?
If you are living in France and going back to Australia only for your visa appointment, you will need to apply for your Police History Check while you are still in France. If you don’t do this, you will have to go back to Australia roughly 2 weeks before your appointment to allow enough time for the police check to be processed. You can apply online, from overseas, here: http://www.afp.gov.au/what-we-do/police-checks/national-police-checks. This can take up to 15 days to process, but mine arrived to my parents’ house, in Australia, after a couple of days.
Your appointment at the embassy must be made at least a month or two in advance. Make sure you stick to this appointment as it is really difficult to make last minute changes.
Don’t forget to print your appointment confirmation. You will need this to enter the building.
Triple check that you have all the documents. If you are not sure if a document will suffice (ie the utility bill) bring some backups.
Make sure you have at least 2 free pages in your passport.