Jan 242011

(asked by Jainiz from the US)

I am an American girl married to a French man. My three months here have expired, is there any way I can get the carte de résident without having to travel back to the US? Can an immigration attorney help me get legalize? Or is this possible? I just don’t want to go back and forth, its costly.
Come on people, I want to help you. I really do. But you have to help me help you. Why don’t you start by using this big organ that you have behind your eyes? Just once and I would be happy…
So, if I understand correctly, you got married to a French guy while on your three month stay as a tourist (did you meet him two months earlier?) and without researching anything about visas and residency beforehand? And now, you still don’t do any research –and neither your husband- and you’re simply asking me?
I mean, I know I’m trying to ridicule people less these days, but you’re not helping. Or was this just a mariage blanc in order to get residency? It’d better not, I have your real name and e-mail, if I ever get into trouble with the authorities, I could use this as leverage. You know how we are in France, denouncing our neighbors to the authorities is a very French tradition.
I’m getting sidetracked here.
So first things first. You won’t get a “carte de résident” just because you got married to a French citizen (come on, you didn’t even research that, this is becoming pretty embarrassing), unless you’re a EU citizen or you’re coming from a selected few other countries (Switzerland and some former French colonies in Africa). What you need first is a spouse visa aka “visa vie privée et familiale”. It will be valid for one year. After that, you’ll get a “titre de séjour.” The first one will also be valid one year, as well as the second one. After three years of marriage, then you can get a “carte de résident” (note that I said “you can” not “you will”, although for Americans, it’s rarely a problem). This one will last you 10 years.
And if you know a thing or two about visas, you know that one doesn’t get a visa for a country (let’s say France) while being in said country (let’s say France). If you need a visa for France you need to get it from abroad, and while, in theory, one can get visas for France from any French Embassy (well, actually Consulate) in the world, in practice, especially with spouse visas, it’s very unlikely you’ll get one from another consulate other than the one which your permanent address is affiliated to.
So, if you want a spouse visa, you’ll have to fly back home. Expensive? Yeah, this is why one plans these sorts of things ahead, and don’t go look on random people blogs after the facts.
Pain in the ass? Indeed it is. Actually this law is relatively new (2 years old) and is clearly aimed at one thing: preventing poor foreigners (Africans?) to marry French people as much as possible. You know how the current government is, he likes immigrants, but only if they’re rich… and possibly white. As it can’t say that explicitly, it finds other ways. For example, making you go back and forth to your country when you get married. You can’t afford it? Too bad for you, you can’t stay in France.
Yeah, I know, some people here don’t like it when I talk shit about the current government. Too bad, but hard to not mention it and not describe how villainous it is when dealing with such topics as France and foreigners (which is basically what this blog is about). Believe me, if I wrote a blog about flowers and horses, I wouldn’t talk so much about it (well, actually, I’d have a thing or two to say about its environmental policies).
Immigration attorneys? LOL I’m not even sure they exist in France (I mean, American style). Remember, in France, people don’t live with an attorney by their side and don’t spend half their lives in courthouses (guess what? I’ve never met an attorney, and I never set foot in a courthouse, and I hope it will stay this way as long as possible). And seriously, if you can afford one, you definitely can afford the round trip home.
Oh and by the way, a simple google search would have brought you there, and it would have saved you the embarrassment as well as a lot of time. (well, as I’m writing this months after you sent me that e-mail I assume that your situation has been settled one way or the other)

More Questions Answered:

  9 Responses to “Do I need to return to the US to get my visa because I’m an idiot and didn’t research about it beforehand?”

  1. The law changed less than a year ago. She needs to make an appointment to apply for a spouse visa with her husband before her current visa runs out: just having the appointment will get her a "récépissé" making it legal for her to stay in France until the appointment date. She can later get a five-year spouse visa in France without going home once she has lived in France for a year.

  2. Brilliant . Complete,accurate, stylish and err… gentle .
    You should make a book some day . Sure ladies would queue in line waiting for your dedication .

  3. @Kendra: Are you sure of that? Because the law had changed two years ago already. Not that it'd surprised me if it had, but my wife still has to follow the process I described (her one year spouse visa has expired, so now she's on a one year card, that will be renewed for one more year soon).

    @Phildange: I sense some irony. Should I?

  4. @ Frenchman
    No no, it was straight . I really like the way you express yourself, and I feel it can be highly appreciated by " le beau sexe ". When I said gentle it was sincere, because in spite of the relative foolishness of the asker's situation you tried to provide her a complete helping .

  5. @Kendra - read her first sentence - she doesn't even have a visa, so there's no way she can apply for the vie privée cds.

    I'm also surprised to hear you say she can get the five year visa after one year in France - maybe it used to be that way several years ago, but now like @Frenchman said, you usually need to wait two or three years.

    I agree though - I get emails all the time from people like this. I am continually baffled by the number of people who just up and move to another country without bothering to figure out the paperwork first!

  6. @Phildange: Thanks then. I thought you were being ironic because of the "gentle" part. I find myself anything but gentle in here (ok, people, I'm revealing the awful truth: I'm not exactly like that in real life, "Frenchman" is a character). However, being a teacher in real life gave me experience about how to mock people with foolish questions while still answering and helping them.
    Concerning the book deal, hey, if any agent or publisher reads this, I'm game.

    @Ksam: Yeah, this one stumps me. The part where they don't do research and then the part where they ask random people instead of checking the official sites.
    Oh well.

  7. @Frenchman and I described the exact process I followed. My husband is from an EU state, I'm American, and I got my long-term visa last week. Also, if the web sites WERE clear people wouldn't write to you nearly as much!

    @Ksam It's true, I misread the first sentence- I thought her visa was ABOUT to expire. If she had gotten an appointment before her visa expired she might have been able to take care of things in France, but now that it's expired she does need to go home first.

    When she gets back, she will not be able to change her status until the new visa she comes in on expires, but again she needs to make an APPOINTMENT. She must do this three months before the expiration is set to occur, so if she comes on a tourist visa she should do it as soon as she gets here.

  8. can a french travle to the the u s with out a visa?

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