Ah, permanent residence—the ‘Golden Snitch‘ of expat life in France. Gone are the days of fretting over visas and residence permits, at least if you play your cards right.

In today’s guide, we’re lifting the veil on the French permanent residence puzzle, serving you the ‘crème de la crème’ of advice to make it happen.

Let’s dive in!

Differences Between Citizenship And Permanent Residence In France

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Permanent residency and French citizenship share some characteristics. Both require 3 to 5 years of living in France and integration into French society. For example, you must have a good command of the French language (a minimum of A2 level).

Furthermore, the advantages of permanent residency and citizenship include the following:

  • The right to study, work and run your own business in France.
  • Access to government assistance and the French public healthcare system
  • The ability to purchase a home and obtain a mortgage in France
  • The ability to move around, leave and re-enter France

There are also some notable differences. For example, having French citizenship allows you to:

  • Get a passport and explore the world as a French citizen.
  • Participate in all French elections and run for public office.
  • Leave France for an indefinite period of time.

However, for some, permanent residency may be preferable to full citizenship, such as if your home country does not allow dual citizenship (e.g., the Netherlands).

As a result, in order to become French, you must either renounce your original citizenship or remain a national of your home country.

What are the Types Of Resident Cards In France?

There are 3 kinds of permanent resident cards in France:

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  • Ten-year resident card for foreigners (known as carte de résident de 10 d’un étranger): This resident card, which is valid for ten years, allows both EFTA/EU and non-EU/EFTA citizens to stay in France.
  • Long-term EU resident card (known as carte de résident longue durée-UE): Non-EFTA/EU nationals can apply for a long-period EU resident card, which allows them to live in France for ten years and visit most other EU/EFTA countries visa-free.
  • Permanent resident card (known as carte de résident permanent): EU/EFTA nationals and non-EU/EFTA nationals are eligible for unconditional and permanent residency in France (unless your behavior threatens public order and security). This card is only available if you have a 10-year resident card or a long-term EU card.

The permits are typically valid for ten years but can be renewed indefinitely. That is, as long as you renew your card, you can stay in France.

Permanent resident cards should not be confused with temporary resident cards, which are as follows:

  • Long-stay visa with a residence permit (known as VLS-TS, visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour): This visa lets you stay in France for a year and is usually exchangeable for a longer permit when it expires.
  • Temporary resident card (known as carte de séjour temporaire): valid for a maximum of five years and renewable 3 times
  • Multi-year resident card (known as carte de séjour pluriannuelle générale): This type of resident card is typically valid for four years and includes visas such as the family visa.

In most cases, you will exchange your VLS-TS for a temporary resident card. You’ll be given a multi-year residence card when that one runs out.

When that expires, you can apply for a permanent resident card.

Can Foreigners Obtain A 10-year Resident Card?

The 10-year resident card (known as carte de résident d’un étranger de 10 ans) is a long-term resident card. It is designated for non-EU/EFTA nationals who meet certain criteria.

Requirements

You must be one or more of the following:

  • For at least three years, the spouse of a French national (or one year if you are a Tunisian citizen)
  • You are in France on a family visa and have been there for at least three years.
  • A French parent who has lived in France for at least three years.
  • A French national’s child aged 21 or younger
  • A French national’s dependent parent (in-law)
  • You may be a refugee or have been granted humanitarian protection in France.
  • The recipient of a French disability pension as a result of a work-related accident or illness
  • Domestic violence, human trafficking, or sex work victim
  • A veteran of the French army or the Foreign Legion for at least three years
  • A young person born in France who is eligible for French citizenship but does not wish to have French nationality.
  • In France, a retired person.

How To Apply?

Applications can be submitted through your local préfecture or the Paris police préfecture. You must apply within two months of your current visa or residence permit expiration.

You will typically be required to provide the following documents:

  • Three passport-size photos
  • Your existing visa or residence permit
  • Valid passport or photo ID
  • Proof of address (like a recent utility bill)
  • Evidence that you have completed any required residence period
  • Evidence that you meet the application criteria (for example, a marriage certificate, birth certificate, or refugee status).
  • Proof of French nationality for anyone associated with your application
  • Certificate in French demonstrating that you have met the French language requirements (at least A2 level)
  • Evidence of social integration in France (e.g., a signed Republican Integration Contract)
  • A medical certificate from the French Office for Immigration and Integration (OFII) is required.

Remember that these documents should be provided in either French or English. Other languages must be translated into French using a service such as lingoking.

Of course, some applicants, such as children of French nationals or army veterans, are exempt from the language or integration requirements.

Victims of violence, refugees, or human trafficking, and those receiving a disability pension are also exempt from most requirements.

Costs

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The standard fee for this permit is €225, but there are some discounts available:

  • €75 for French disability pension holders
  • €25 for refugees and veterans of the army
  • Victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, or pimping are eligible for free services.

The fee must be paid in tax stamps. A tax stamp verifies that you have paid the tax (for example, the ones you see on a bottle of wine).

Renewing Your Card

When your card expires, you can renew it at your local préfecture or the Paris police préfecture. The renewal fee is €225 in all cases.

You can also choose between a long-term EU resident card and a permanent resident card.

Long-Term EU Resident Card

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The long-term EU resident card (known as carte de résident de longue durée-UE) has a 10-year validity period.

It lets foreign nationals live in France and travel to other EU/EFTA countries without requiring a visa. However, if you leave France for six years in a row, your existing long-term EU card will no longer be valid.

Requirements

To obtain an EU resident card, you must have lived in France for five years in a row. These five years must have been uninterrupted, with some exceptions (for example, a maximum absence of six consecutive months with a total absence of 10 months).

If you have an EU Blue Card, then you must demonstrate that you have lived in an EU country for five years, including a minimum of two years in France.

Periods of absence beyond the five years spent in the EU are permitted.

If you are a refugee or have received subsidiary protection, you must have lived in France for at least five years. This begins on the date you submitted your asylum application.

Health insurance, language skills, integration, and a minimum income are also required for the long-term EU resident card.

How To Apply?

You have two months before your current visa or residence permit expires to apply. You can do this at your local préfecture or the Paris police préfecture.

What you’ll need to provide:

  • Three passport-size photos
  • Valid passport or photo ID
  • Existing residential card or copy of your birth certificate
  • Evidence that you have spent time living in France for five years in a row (e.g., tax statements)
  • Proof of address (e.g., a tenancy agreement or recent utility bill)
  • Evidence that you have enough money to support yourself. (e.g., bank statements or pay stubs).
  • Knowledge of the French language (a minimum of A2 level) as demonstrated by an exam certificate. If you are 65 or older, this does not apply to you.
  • Evidence of social integration in France (for example, letters of support from someone in a respected capacity or an official). You can also be asked to sign a document expressing your commitment to the French Republic’s values.

Within 2-3 months, you will receive a decision on your application.

Costs

The long-term EU resident card costs €225 and must be paid for with tax stamps.

Renewing Your Card

This card is valid for ten years. When it expires, you can renew or switch to a French permanent resident card.

Either way, you must do so at the police préfecture in Paris or your local préfecture within two months of the expiration date.

French Permanent Resident Card

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Non-French nationals can apply for the permanent resident card (carte de résident permanent), which grants them the right to unconditional and permanent residence in France. If you are Algerian, you can instead request a 10-year residence certificate.

Requirements

You must have spent time living in France for five years before applying for a permanent resident card. This can be done on a temporary French visa or as a citizen of the EU/EFTA.

You only need to have three years spent living in France as the spouse of a French national.

If your EU resident card or 10-year long-term is about to expire, you can switch to this permit.

When your current permit expires, you will automatically qualify for the French permanent residence card if you are over the age of 60.

Other requirements include the following:

  • Knowledge of the French language is required (at least A2 level). If you are 65 or older, this does not apply to you.
  • Inclusion in French culture
  • There is no criminal history or outstanding criminal convictions (for example, French authorities do not deem you a threat to public order security)

Applying For This Resident Card

You can submit an application at the police préfecture in Paris or your local préfecture. You will be needed to provide the following:

  • Three passport-size photos
  • Valid passport or photo ID
  • Your resident card or birth certificate
  • Proof of proficiency in the French language (for example, an exam certificate)
  • Proof of address

You may also be required to sign a Republican Integration Contract (CIR – Contrat d’intégration républicaine) stating that you support the French Republic’s ideals.

Normally, decisions on permanent residence applications take about 2-3 months.

Costs

The permanent resident card costs €225 and must be paid for with tax stamps. A person on a disability pension due to an accident or illness at work pays a reduced rate of €75.

Renew Your Card

The permanent resident card has validity for ten years but can be renewed indefinitely as long as you meet the requirements.

Within two months of the expiry date, you can renew the card at the police préfecture in Paris or your local préfecture.

UK Citizens Will Be Able To Live Permanently In France After Brexit

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As a result of Brexit, UK citizens have become non-EU/EFTA nationals. This means that they no longer have free movement within the EU/EFTA region.

You can stay in France if you are a British national who has signed the Withdrawal Agreement Residence Permit (WARP). It gives you the same rights as citizens of the EU/EFTA.

If you haven’t signed a WARP, you’ll have to apply for a resident card just like any other non-EU/EFTA national.

Permanent Residence In France For Family Members

A family visa allows foreign nationals living in France to be joined by relatives. Your nationality determines who you can bring:

  • EU/EFTA citizens: They can bring their spouse, dependent (grand)parents, dependent (grand)children, and other dependent relatives such as siblings, aunts, uncles, or cousins.
  • Non-EU/EFTA nationals – normal resident permit: They can bring their spouse and (dependent) children over the age of 18, but only after living in France for 18 months in a row.
  • Non-EU/EFTA nationals – high-skilled work visa: They can immediately bring their spouse and (dependent) children under the age of 18

After three years in France, your family member can apply for a 10-year long-term resident card. They can apply for a permanent resident card after being a resident in the country for five years.

Losing Your Permanent Residence Rights In France

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Your permanent resident card is valid for a period of ten years. You may, however, lose your card if you:

  • Leave the country without returning for more than five years (three years if you have a 10-year long-term resident card)
  • Commit a crime, offense, or terrorist act that the authorities deem detrimental to the French people’s interests.

If you lose your right to permanent residence in France, you can apply again as soon as you regain eligibility (i.e., wait five years or get your record expunged).

What Can You Do If Your Application Is Rejected?

If you want to appeal a rejected application or if you haven’t heard back after four months, you can request an administrative review from either your local préfecture or the Ministry of the Interior.

You must file this request within two months of the decision or six months if no response has been received.

If you are dissatisfied with the decision, you may appeal to the Administrative Justice (justice administrative) within two months of receiving it.

Both, requesting a review and filing an appeal are free of charge. However, if you hire a lawyer (avocat) to represent you, you may be required to pay legal fees.

What Is A VLS-TS?

A VLS-TS is a French long-stay visa that is equivalent to a residence permit and is issued to non-Europeans for stays ranging from three to twelve months.

So, if you’re moving to France for the first time, you’ll almost certainly be issued a VLS-TS for your first year.

Below are some of the most common VLS-TS visa categories:

  • VLS-TS Étudiant: for international students over the age of 18 who have been accepted to study at a French university.
  • VLS-TS Salarié: for salaried employees with a contract that is longer than 90 days.
  • VLS-TS Travailleur Temporaire: for foreign employees on a longer-than-90-day temporary or fixed-term contract.
  • VLS-TS Salarié détaché ICT: for ICT workers or intra-company transferees performing a high management function, and a contract that is valid for at least three years.
  • VLS-TS Stagiaire: for ICT employees or trainees stationed in France for less than a year.
  • VLS-TS Passeport Talent: Investors, business owners, freelancers, highly qualified employees, researchers, artists, performers, and those with (inter)national reputations are among those who can help France’s economy.
  • VLS-TS Vie Privée Et Familiale: for spouses, partners, children, or dependent elderly parents who wish to join a family member in France.
  • VLS-T Visiteur: a 4-6 month temporary long-stay visa granted to tourists, digital nomads, retirees, or other long-term visitors who will not engage in professional activities.

How Do You Get A VLS-TS?

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You must apply for the VLS-TS at least three months before your planned arrival in France.

You can apply by submitting an application form and supporting documents through the France Visas website, followed by an interview at your nearest consulate/embassy.

When your application is approved, you will be given a VLS-TS sticker for your passport.

How To Validate The French Long-Stay Visa (VLS-TS)?

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After arriving in France, you must validate your VLS-TS within three months if you have a VLS-TS sticker or within two months if you have a VLS-TS with the obligation to apply for a residence permit (carte de Séjour à solliciter Dans Les Deux Mois suivant l’arrivée).

Those on a working holiday, minor students, and those on the Visiteur (temporary) VLS-TS are exceptions.

You must validate your VLS-TS online.

  1. You can download the application form from the OFII website.
  2. Digitally completing the VLS-TS application form.
  3. Sending an email to OFII with the VLS-TS application form and a copy of the passport.

The OFII (Known as the French Office for Immigration and Integration) can take up to three months to process your application after you submit it.

Following the processing of your application, you will be invited to an OFII office for a medical exam and/or the signing of a Republican Integration Contract (CIR), if applicable.

For the appointment, you must bring the following documents:

  • Your passport and ID
  • Proof of residency in France (for example, your rental contract if you rent in France)
  • Proof of application fee payment, which is easily accomplished with a French bank account
  • A passport photo

After that, the OFII will add a sticker to your passport, allowing you to stay legally in France as a resident.

How Much Does The VLS-TS Cost?

The price of the VLS-TS is determined by the category of VLS-TS for which you have applied. To give you an idea, you should expect to pay between €80 and €250.

Useful Resources

  • French Office for Immigration and Integration (Known as L’office Français de l’immigration de l’intégration – OFII) – It is the French office in charge of migration
  • Ministry of the Interior (Known as Ministère de l’Iintèrieur) – It is the government ministry responsible for resident permits in France
  • Service-Public – It is the French government website containing information on French residence and resident cards
  • Lingoking – It is the translation agency for private customers
  • Justifit – It is a website that connects individuals, professionals, and lawyers

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Live In France Permanently?

If you have spent time in France for more than five years, you will be eligible for permanent residency, which will be granted in the form of a 10-year renewable residency permit.

Is It Hard To Get PR In France?

You must have spent five years in France before applying for a permanent resident card. This can be done on a temporary French visa or as a citizen of the EU/EFTA.

You only need to be a resident in France for three years as the spouse of a French national.

How Do I Get A 10-Year Residence Card In France?

It is either automatic or at the discretion of French authorities when renewing your Carte de Séjour.

When you first enter France, you will most likely be issued a 10-year resident card for the following reasons: You’ve been married to a French citizen for over three years, and your union is legally recognized in France.

Is France Easy To Get Citizenship?

  • You can become a French citizen through naturalization if you meet the following criteria:
  • You have lived in France for at least 5 years.
  • You have been granted refugee status.
  • You are French and speak French because it is your mother tongue.
  • You were educated in France and come from a French-speaking country.

How Long Do You Have To Spend Time Living In France To Become A Resident?

To apply for citizenship, you need to have lived permanently and without breaks in France for five years (with some exceptions) and meet certain requirements.

Citizenship can be obtained in two ways: by decree or by declaration.

Can I Live In France Without A Job?

It is possible to relocate to France without having a job. Your nationality determines the ease with which you can complete this process.

You can travel to France to look for work if you are an EEU or EEA citizen. If you are a non-EU citizen, you must apply for a French visa in your home country before moving.

Conclusion

And voilà! Consider yourself schooled in the art of securing permanent residence in the land of baguettes and Bordeaux.

It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon—with extra cheese. But armed with this guide, you’re more than ready for the long haul.

Live Freely!

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