HOW TO MOVE TO FRANCE: THE HUSTLE IS REAL (visa + job tips)
How to Move to France
France is a beautiful country full of history, culture and excitement. Many people want to emigrate to France, whether it is for a short term relocation or for a permanent move. With some simple and practical steps and proper preparation, a move to France can be made easier than you may imagine.
Moving to France for Work
Contact the French Consulate or the French Embassy in your area.You will need to request paperwork for the type of French visa that you wish to apply for. You’ll probably want to start off by browsing the French Embassy’s website so that you can ask informed questions when you talk to the embassy officials.
- Most countries have French Embassies where you can direct your questions. If you live in a larger country, like the United States, each region will have its own embassy. For example, the French Embassy in Atlanta, Georgia, covers U.S residents from the following states: Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
- Unless you are a citizen of an EU member state, the first step for a move to France will generally be to request a tourist visa. This type of visa will allow you to stay in France for up to a year.
- When the tourist visa expires, you will be allowed to apply for a one-year permit and renew that on a yearly basis. After one year, you will be required to pay French income taxes and will need to obtain a French driving licence (Permis de conduire) if you wish to drive there.
- If you are already a citizen of a country in the European Union, you don’t need a visa to move to France. EU citizens have the right to live and work in any country within the European Union.
Submit your visa application.If allowed, mail the completed visa paperwork to the French Consulate closest to the city where you live. If you aren’t allowed to submit your application by mail, you will need to make an appointment at the Embassy to appear in person.
- Applications may include one or more passport photos, an application fee, a completed and signed visa application form, proof of health insurance, proof of financial support, any other requested documents, and your original passport.
- Retain at least one personal copy of all paperwork that you fill out in connection with your move to France, as you may need to provide this as identification later.
Wait for your visa.The embassy will either notify you that you visa is ready to be picked up in person, or they may send it to you in a pre-paid shipping envelope if you supplied one.
- Your visa will be an official sticker on one of the pages of your passport.
Find a job.When you arrive in France, you’ll need to start working. This means that you should either start looking for a job before you leave, or try to find one as soon as you arrive. Either way, you’ll need to provide a résumé and cover letter in French to potential employers. These have to be adapted to local standards, which can be different from your own country.
- Start surfing the internet to find some examples of what professional résumés look like. Whether you want to do it yourself or ask a professional to do it for you, you can review the different options online.
- If you don’t speak French, you could consider looking for a job as a tutor in your native language or as an au pair for a French family.
Moving to France for Studies
Find a program.One of the easiest ways to get a visa to France is for academic studies. You can apply directly to a French institution for a degree program, or try to find an affiliate program with a university in your home country.
- Most schools offer overseas study or foreign exchange programs that send students to study at a French university for one or two semesters.
Apply to study in France.Complete the application process for your studies. This means either applying directly to a French institution as a foreign student, or applying to an overseas study/foreign exchange program through an affiliated foreign university.
- You will probably need to pay an application fee, write an application essay, provide official transcripts, and submit one or more letters of recommendation.
Apply for a visa.Contact your local French embassy to apply for a visa. Students accepted to French institutions are eligible for student visas such as the Long Stay Visa for Studies, which is required of all students who plan to reside in France for longer than three months.
- You’ll need to make an appointment with the French embassy nearest you, submit your application and all the required documents, and wait to receive your visa once it has been approved.
Making Your Arrangements Before You Go
Learn the language.If you are moving to France, you’ll want to spend some time learning at least a little bit of the French language. You’ll need to be able to talk to people when you rent a property, find a job, order food in a restaurant, and in almost every other aspect of your life in France. Learning the language is crucial.
- Try hiring a French tutor, taking a class at a university, using an online program like Rosetta Stone, or a fun learning app like Duolingo.
- If you move to a major metropolitan area like Paris, it is likely that you will encounter people who speak English quite regularly. However, if you are moving to a more rural area, you will need to speak French to get by in your day-to-day life.
Decide where to move.The location you move to in France may depend on your job, or it may be a little more open to selection for you. If you can choose, think about where you would like to go to in France.
- If you want to live in a city with more job opportunities and that may be easier for a foreigner to integrate, consider Paris, Toulouse, or Lyon.
- If you want a more quaint French countryside experience, consider moving to a more rural location with a smaller population.
Find a place to live.You may wish to stay in furnished housing, or if you are shipping some items you may prefer to get an unfurnished flat. There are many options for places to live in France, so consider which one will be the best for you.
- The Internet can be a good source of accommodations, especially sites that cater to those emigrating to France. Try searching on sites like SeLoger, PAP, or Lodgis.
- If you want to find a traditional apartment in France, be aware that there are some things to consider. For example, if you don’t earn an income that is three times the rent, you will be asked to provide a guarantor (like a co-signer on a loan) who will be legally responsible to pay for you if you aren’t able to pay your rent. This person must be someone who earns income in France – so it can’t be your parents back in your home country – which can cause problems for people initially moving to a new country.
- If you are planning on living in France for a shorter period of time (a matter of months, rather than years), you may want to consider renting a place on a website like AirBnb.This option might be a bit more expensive than obtaining a traditional apartment, but it will save you the hassle of searching for an apartment in person when you arrive in France, securing a guarantor, signing up for renter’s insurance, activating utilities in your home, furnishing your apartment, etc.
Book your flight to France.Search for flights on the Internet and try to find the best deal. Spend some time looking and consider all of your options. You could also go through a travel agent if you are not comfortable booking the flight yourself.
- When booking your flight, consider things like layovers and travel time. If you are checking a bunch of bags, the more layovers you have the more likely it is that all of your bags won’t arrive with you. If you are bringing a pet with you on the aeroplane, you may want to pay a little extra for a direct flight to limit your travel time.
- Keep in mind that return flights are almost always less expensive than one-way flights. So, even if you don’t plan to return to your country of origin, you might want to consider purchasing a return ticket anyway.
Get your belongings to France.Ship valuables that you cannot take with you on the plane ahead to France. There are many shipping services you can utilize, but be aware of French governmental restrictions on shipping personal items.
- These restrictions may vary, but as of 2010 include: Firearms, ammunition, meat, dairy products, plants, narcotics, psychotropic substances, pets, medicine, precious metals, cash, counterfeit items, and wild animals.
- If you want to bring your family pets with you to France, you will have to make sure your pet’s vaccinations (especially rabies) are up to date, have your vet complete a health clearance travel form (and possibly get this form stamped by your country’s import/export authority), and ensure that your pet has been microchipped. France may require additional measures to be taken for pets being imported from certain countries.
- Before shipping any items to France, check with the French Consulate to be sure that you have the updated shipping restrictions.
Settling in Once You Arrive
Arrive in France.Once you have travelled to France, you’ll have to go through border control and customs to enter the country. The officers will definitely want to look at your passport and visa, but they have the right to request additional documentation before allowing you entry.
- If you are arriving in France with a pre-existing visa, it will probably save you some time as you go through customs because the governmental authorities will not investigate your documents as thoroughly (since they know you already went through the vigorous process with the Embassy).
- If you are getting your travel visa when you arrive, they may ask you some questions about your trip, require proof that you will leave the country within a certain period of time, or request to see various documents. So be prepared for this.
Apply for residency.Once you arrive in France, you’ll need to apply for your permanent resident card, even if you have a visa. To do so, you’ll need to mail in your OFII (Office Français de l'Immigration et de l'Intégration) form that you received with your visa and wait to hear back from them. You will be asked to appear in person at the local préfecture to undergo a simple medical examination and to complete your resident application.
- Once this is complete, you will be granted your resident permit (carte de séjour) which will be good for one year, regardless of how long your visa has been granted for.
- You may need to bring additional documents to your OFII appointment, but they will notify you ahead of time.
- You can’t submit your OFII paperwork until after you have already arrived in France.
Open a bank account.If you’re going to be living in France permanently, you should consider opening a bank account at a French institution. This will save you from possibly hefty international transaction fees from using your foreign bank account and bank card while living in France.
- To do so, you’ll need to bring your passport and proof of residency in France. This could be a copy of your rental agreement or something from your school if you are studying in France.
- You will probably have to wait a week or so for your French bank card to arrive in the mail.
- Some common banks to use in France include LCL, BNP Paribas, Société Générale, Banque Populaire, and La Banque Postale.
Enroll your children in French schools.If you’re living in France, you (and your children) are entitled to free education. School is mandatory from ages 6 to 16, so your kids will need to be enrolled.
- To enroll your children for the first time, you’ll need to contact the service des écoles at your local courthouse (or mairie, in French). They will help you find the school nearest your residence that your child should attend.
- You may also consider an international school for your child, especially if they don’t speak French, to ease the transition. However, this type of school may cost money.
QuestionWhat do I do if I can't find a job?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should do research on job openings in the area you are moving to in advance, and have enough money saved up to subsist on until you start working.Thanks!
QuestionAre there any mandatory classes I have to take if I don't speak French?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt depends on your age. If you arrive as a minor and you don't speak French, you'll have to take the UPE2A class to learn the language. If you're an adult, you are not required to learn the language (though obviously it helps).Thanks!
QuestionWhat do I do if I'm retired?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThere are many beautiful places to retire in France, such as southern France's Nice and Monton. Do not move to Paris as it is always tourist season there, and very loud.Thanks!
QuestionIf I'm retired and have savings I will be living off, will I still need to find a job?Top AnswererMost likely, no, you will not need to find a job. The thinking behind this is that host countries want some kind of guarantee that they won't have to carry the full burden of supporting you. So before they allow you to settle in their territory, some kind of proof is requested or required that you are more or less self-sufficient. A job is usually a good way of providing such a guarantee. But a bank statement is enough as well. Check with the French embassy to be sure.Thanks!
QuestionI have no degree or college education. Is there some kind of refugee status or something that I can obtain for myself?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNot really; fortunately the US isn't quite at that point yet (assuming that's your home country). Finding a French person to fall in love with and marry should still work, but that presents its own set of challenges.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I am an independent consultant (in the US, I have my own company) and, since I am semi-retired, I am not looking for a traditional job?Top AnswererThis is not an issue. A visa application comes with a number of requirements. Most countries want to be sure they won't have to bear the medical and other costs associated with getting older. A job is usually a good way of showing you are capable of carrying these costs yourself, but if you have savings, they also serve as a guarantee, preempting the requirement of a job.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the cutoff age for people to move to France? Am I too old at 52?Top AnswererThere is no age limit. There may be extra requirements for older people, mostly related to who will cover any medical costs. 52 is not old at all. Check with the French embassy to find out more.Thanks!
QuestionWhen is a Visa not necessary?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerCitizens of EU nations that are part of the Schengen Area are not required to apply for a visa if moving within the Schengen Area.Thanks!
QuestionI am an Indian married man and have a French girlfriend who has a permanent job as a school teacher. I do not know French and I want to move to France from India. What is the procedure?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTo learn French go to a website called Duolingo, it's helped me learn different languages. Otherwise follow the steps in this article for moving.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I'm disabled?Top AnswererDisability is not grounds for refusal. There are requirements that must be met before anyone's visa application can be approved. There may be a few extra small points depending on your disability, mainly aimed at establishing who will bear any additional medical costs.Thanks!
I'm planning on studying college in oxford then move to France and enroll in a Vet School. Is that okay? Will there be any problem with that?
- Try to schedule your arrival in France for an off-peak time. Flying into France on a major holiday will mean flying into a crowded airport and may significantly increase the amount of time that you will need to spend waiting in customs.
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