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I'm wanting to apply for a French long-stay visa while being in/near France. Is it necessary to return to my country (Australia), or can I go to an embassy in Belgium or some other country closer by?

(I'd be using the 90 days that Australians have to visit the Schengen zone without a visa.)

All the guidelines suggest that because I can't apply while in France that I'd need to return to Australia, but what about another country?

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  • 1
    Questions about long-term/residency visas are a better fit at our sister site Expatriates Stack Exchange.
    – Midavalo
    Jun 20 '20 at 22:28
  • Often (usually?) visas are applied for from your home country or country of residence, not just "some other country"
    – Midavalo
    Jun 20 '20 at 22:29
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    It would seem that you cannot apply for a long term visa from Belgium unless you a resident of a Benerlux country: Welcome FV | Belgium If you are a legal resident of Luxembourg, Belgium or The Netherlands, you may submit your visa application to the Consulate general of France in Brussels. Jun 21 '20 at 6:15
  • @MarkJohnson, thank you for your response and the link. I'll check if it's possible with the London embassy. I hope so!!
    – Elliott
    Jun 21 '20 at 8:47
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    @Elliott I think you could try the visa wizard here mail/web/france-visas/ai-je-besoin-d-un-visa to see whether it’s possible
    – Traveller
    Jun 21 '20 at 9:34
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In principle, you are supposed to apply for a long-stay visa before moving to France and you can only do that at the consulate serving the place where you live. You should be asked to submit documentation of your status as a resident (e.g. a residence permit or long-stay visa from the relevant country) together with your application. This applies across the French consular network and should not depend on the consulate where you want to apply (even if what counts as proof of address/residence will).

The rules are specifically designed to prevent what you are contemplating (moving first and applying for a visa afterwards). Thus, if you are a resident in another European country, you do not necessarily need to go back to your country of citizenship to lodge an application but if you are only visiting using the short-stay visa exemption rules, you are not allowed to use a consulate in a neighbouring country to circumvent the requirement to apply from your place of residence.

There are a few exceptions to this principle, allowing you to apply for a long-term status after entering France. If you qualify, you would not apply for a long-stay visa either but skip that and apply directly for a carte de séjour. This would for example be the case if you are married to a French citizen or if you are joining a family member and apply within one month of entering. Note that technically, there is nothing preventing you to apply for a carte de séjour directly even if you don't have a visa long séjour, the préfecture is legally enpowered to make an exception if you can make a case for it (e.g. by arguing that returning to your country would entail unnecessary hardship) but they can obviously refuse.

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  • Considering that Australians have a problem returning to Australia, showing proof how long you must wait to return may possibly be an acceptable reason. Oct 28 '20 at 11:18

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