Applying for a long stay visa : when to start the process ?
Applying for a long stay visa is often the first step of the immigration process that will lead you to come and live in France. Clients ofen want to know when they need to start the process. I have already explained how long the delay could be, but when you choose to apply has also an impact on the process you are going to start.
My first advise is always the following : when you are ready and confident in your choice. You are going to have expenses and it will take you some time to get your long stay visa so you need to be sure that it is something you really want to do. If you stop applying for a long stay visa you will have loose much time and in some cases it may diminish your chances in the future. Hence be certain that you want to go through before starting the process. Because it is not going to be easy.
Then you must choose the kind of long stay visa you will be applying for. There are many kind and some are more difficult to get than other. You may not meet the criteria for some of them. So to know which one you want to apply for is the crux of matter. In one case out of two, a rejection will come from the fact that the long stay visa that was selected was not the right one. Of course having the help of a prossionnal adviser on this question is ideal. It will help you to gain time on the process.
Once you know this, then you will have to start gathering the required documents. They will depend on the kind of application you are going to do of course. But by exemple, the french administration will generally require a copy of your birthcertificate. In some country it may take some time to get so you must begin the process of getting you birthcertificate soon enough and not wait until you have your appointment at the French Consulate. If you wait too long and you are missing a document, you will have to go back and take another appointment.
When you have the right paperwork, then comes the time to make your file in order of applying for a long stay visa. There will be of course the form you have received from France-Visa and all the documents you have gathered before. However you must know that the list you will receive through France-Visa is not the correct one. Indeed, there is only one list that is really legal and it is the one of the arrêté du 30 avril 2021 fixant la liste des pièces justificatives exigées pour la délivrance, hors Nouvelle-Calédonie, des titres de séjour prévus par le livre IV du code de l’entrée et du séjour des étrangers et du droit d’asile.
At this stage of the process of applying for a long stay visa, you can go through and take your appointment using the different services available. Since a couple of years, in many countries, the french consulates are not in charge of receiving the application and the task has been delegated to a private company. Depending on the country in which you live, it could be either VFS Global or TLS Contact. Both are really bad and before at least the agent at the desk of the Consulate could ask someone if a question arose. Now with these private companies, they will not help you at all and if they don’t want to take you application for any reason, then they just don’t take it (which is illegal by the way under french immigration law).
Once your file has been received by the French Consulate, they will examine your application. Now you have to wait for them to decide if they grant you the long stay visa. In some very rare occasion, they may contact your for further details such as more documents but it does not happen often.
If you get a decision that deny your application, what to do then ? Well, I would recommand if you have not done it before to seek the help of a prossionnal. You have a two months delay to appeal to a Commission in France and then start a trial before the Court. If you miss the two months delay, you will then have to start applying for a long stay visa all over again.
Applying for a long stay visa is probably the hardest part of the entire process from living in another country to becoming a french citizen one day. So it is important to do it corectly because once you hold the right long stay visa it will make the rest of your journey even easier.
In all this, we can accompany you from the beginning until the end and your arrival in France.