Long Stay Visa - Part I - Skipping About the Continent - CycleBlaze

February 4, 2022

Long Stay Visa - Part I

Requirements and Process

Truth be told, it is not just Covid that compels me to return to Europe on a long stay visa. I had the good fortune of spending six months on sabbatical in Paris in 2015 and I’ve flirted with the idea of moving to France ever since. The closest I got to pulling the trigger was following my 2019 tour in southwest France – but we don't need reminding as to how all our 2020 plans turned to rubbish. Two years on, age and circumstances have propelled me to act now or give up the dream altogether. For those who may harbor similar thoughts of extended tours in Europe, I thought it might be useful to summarize the visa requirements and the process for applying for long stay visas in Europe.

Visa requirements for the Schengen Zone 

 In 1985, the Schengen Agreement established a border-free zone among several European countries, allowing free movement between countries within the Schengen Zone. There are currently 27 countries Schengen Zone, including most, but not all, of the EU as well as a three non-EU countries (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland). Latest info from Scott Anderson is that Croatia will soon join the Schengen Agreement.

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The effect of the Schengen agreement is that visitors to any Schengen member country are able to freely travel to any country within the Schengen zone, provided they meet visa requirements. Visa requirements for entry vary depending your home country: entry visas are not required for residents of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, but are required for a number of other countries, including South Africa. In addition, stays are restricted to 90 days within a 180 day period. Practically, this means you can tour in the Schengen Zone for 3 months, but must leave for 3 months before returning - you do not have to go back home, but you cannot not re-enter a Schengen country during the interim. If you want to stay longer than 90 days within a six month period, you must obtain a long-stay visa.

 Application Process and Requirements for Long-Stay Visa in France

Long-stay visas are issued by a specific country within the Schengen Zone, but allow free movement among all countries. Therefore, you must apply to a specific country, in my case France. It is likely that requirements are similar in other Schengen countries, but the information below is specific for US visitors to France. The most direct website for France application  is: France Visas - The official visa website for France

Summary of Application Process

Before leaving home (can only apply while in home country, not while abroad)

  • Set up online account
  • Submit online application with supporting document (not more than 3 months prior to trip start date)
  • Make appointment for interview (there are 9 sites in US)

 Once in France you need to validate Visa once in France in one of two ways:

  1. Convert to residence permit (done in person where you “live)
  2. Online validation – but may subsequently require in person appointment

 Supporting Documents Needed for Application

  • Passport – valid 3 months beyond your length of stay, at least 2 blank pages
  • Purpose of travel – for tourism, a signed statement that you will not engage in any professional activity
  • Medical Insurance 
    • Travel health insurance certificate issued by the insurance company  that covers any possible costs for medical repatriation, and emergency and/or hospital treatment, for a minimum amount of €30,000, valid in France for the whole stay. A copy of your American health insurance card is not an acceptable proof of adequate coverage - you must get additional coverage.
    • There are a number of companies that sell insurance policies and provide a letter specifically designed to meet the Schengen visa requirements. In fact, a list of these are popped up online during the process of completing my application.
  • Proof of accommodation (see funds below for more info)  - Property title deed, tenancy agreement or any other supporting document. Or proof that accommodation will be provided by a person residing in France, or if not, a document explaining the accommodation arrangements planned for France – this can be hotel or Airbnb.
  • Funds - Proof of enough resources to cover all expenses during trip
    • The Long Stay Visa France Financial Requirement is 120 euros per day. If you provide proof of accommodation through a hotel (or Airbnb) then this requirement goes down to 65 euros per day.
    • If you have a hotel booking BUT it doesn’t cover the full 365 days, then you have to provide 65 euros per day for the days with a booking and the full 120 euros for the other days.
    • If you can find someone in France who agrees to “host” you for the whole year then the amount per day goes down to 32.50 euros per day. However, they need to fill out a lot of paperwork to qualify as a host.

Once you have completed the application, you schedule an appointment for an interview in your resident country. There are 9 sites in the US, the closest to me is in Washington, DC. 

This post has gotten way too long, so my trip to DC and will be described in a separate entry. However, most of the necessary information is contained here. If you have any questions or would like more specific information, you can reach me by gmail using susanlongcarpenter

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Rachael AndersonThanks for documenting this. I bet you are getting excited!
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6 months ago
Scott AndersonVery clear, and very helpful. Are you planning on the online validation option when you arrive, and what are you planning for proof of accommodation if you don’t mind describing it in general? Also, do you think you’ll say more about what you’ve decided to do about insurance and what it’s costing?
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6 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Scott AndersonThank Scott - Yes, I plan on the doing the online validation. I'll add more about what I found out/did for accommodation and insurance in Part II. Hope to get it posted this weekend.
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6 months ago
Suzanne GibsonWow, glad I don't need a long-stay visa for the EU!
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6 months ago