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According to OFII and other resources I've run across, I'm required after entering France to apply for a carte de séjour as well. This isn't a question about how to do that--I've already begun the process. I'm just wondering what it does for me or why it's required. As I understand it, a titre de séjour in general is any document that gives me the right to live and work in France, and my long-stay visa (for research) already serves that purpose.

My long-stay visa is valid for a year, but should be possible to renew. However, I am planning on staying in France for longer than a year (indefinitely even). If I have a carte de séjour will I also need to renew my visa, or will it take the place of my visa as my official permit to live and work in France (I understand I will still need to renew my carte de séjour as well, but if I need a visa in addition to it what even is the point??)

Update: This update is a little off-topic from my original question, but I wanted to add a brief update on my visit to the OFII office for my visa de long séjour dispensant de titre de séjour (known as "VLS/TS"), since it might be helpful/interesting to anyone who runs across this. My nearest OFII office is in Créteil, so your mileage may vary at different offices. I was given an appointment to be there at 1:00 P.M. sharp, but upon arriving there was already a long line at the door, and the office itself did not open until 1:00. After the doors opened they started letting people near the front in one at a time, but there was a huge crunch around the door and the line became more of a morass. I was toward the back and couldn't really understand what was going on, nor hear what the sole OFII employee standing at the door was saying.

Eventually, about half an hour later, I was close enough to hear to him call out if anyone had a rendez-vous. I shouted that I did and waved my appointment paper around. He waved me over and I had to literally shove my way through the crowd to get up to the door (some people helped by pushing me from behind). The man let me through, and sent me right up to the front desk. They looked at my paper and had the gall to ask me why I was late. I told them, in my limited French, that I was there since 12:50 and was just in the back of the line and was trying to be polite. It was not clear that because I had a written appointment I could skip the line (for all I knew all those people had appointments too).

But they honored my appointment, and though I had to wait a little longer everything else went smoothly, and all the staff on the second floor were very friendly and helpful. I did not have to have a medical checkup. I'm not sure why not--maybe a privilege of being an American--they reviewed my paperwork which was all correct, and put the sticker in my passport.

The sticker is largely redundant with the VLS, but as others have pointed out the VLS is relatively new, so the procedures may not be fully sync'd up yet. It is also slightly different insofar as it has my permanent address in France on it, as well as a personal registration number particular to OFII, which I assume will be used to track my future applications. They told me that when my VLS expires I can get this renewed in the form of a proper carte de séjour. For anyone curious, the sticker looks like this:

They just pasted it on the page of my passport after the page my visa is on (kind of a waste of a page IMO but oh well).

  • [As an aside I find it especially amusing that my visa will be at least half-way expired at the rate it's taking me to get a carte de séjour--it took OFII nearly two months just to acknowledge receipt of my application, much less give me an appointment :)] – Iguananaut May 2 '16 at 7:14
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    @Iguanaut There is much much worse... the carte de séjour will be dated from the date of your application. I know some people who received theirs 9 months after they first applied, i.e. with only 3 months left before it would expire. Depends a lot on the préfecture though, hopefully your experience won't be as bad. – Gala May 2 '16 at 11:31
  • I had to have a medical checkup and I'm American. I'm jealous. Had to stand topless in front of some guy I don't know, which was a bit upsetting. – la femme cosmique Mar 1 '18 at 8:26
  • Ugh, you'd think at the very least they'd have woman examiners. How needlessly invasive. – Iguananaut Mar 1 '18 at 18:47
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I don't have a full answer for you, or a full understanding of the situation, but here are a few useful bits of information based on personal experience.

  • The carte de séjour will also serve as a visa after you get it. It will allow you to travel in and out of the country, as well as travel to other Schengen countries (and also to a few non-Schengen ones which happen to accept Schengen visas). You should get a carte de séjour and won't need a visa anymore.

  • Yes, things take time in France, so it's a good idea to apply for a carte de séjour immediately. However, there are time limits on issuing it: if I remember right, in principle you must get it in no more than 4 months or be refused.

  • When your carte de séjour is due for renewal, be sure to get an appointment well in advance. In our case online appointments were given only for 5 months later (!) and it was some trouble to be able to get an appointment for the date of expiration (3.5 months later).

  • Look for an Euraxess service point in your city, which should be able to answer many of these questions or maybe even help you deal with this paperwork to some extent.

  • Thanks! This answers my question. FWIW I applied for the carte de séjour just a few weeks after arriving, so I should be fine. Given your experience I'll probably apply for my renewal appointment almost immediately after I receive it--my in-person appointment is not until mid-May and who knows how long it'll take after that.... :) – Iguananaut May 2 '16 at 7:41
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    You're right about the 4-month delay/implicit refusal... but it is routinely ignored. – Gala May 2 '16 at 11:29
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I am not sure whether it is absolutely impossible to renew the visa but that's not the way it's usually done. The regular process is: long-stay visa to enter then carte de séjour that you renew every year until you get either citizenship (if you want that, obviously) or some way to qualify for a carte de résident or at least a carte de séjour with a longer validity.

Once you have a French carte de séjour, you won't need any visa to enter either France or the rest of the Schengen area. The idea is definitely not to hold both the carte de séjour and the visa indefinitely.

Also, originally many long-stay visas had a shorter validity, it's only recently that the "visa long séjour valant titre de séjour" was created, thus eshewing the need to get a carte de séjour for the first year and creating this somewhat unusual situation. But the system was designed around the carte de séjour and you are still expected to get one eventually.

  • My experience with applying for a long-stay visa: 1. get a short-stay tourist visa back by mail 2. call the consulate and complain; they said it was a mistake and we need to send the passport back 3. we sent the passport back to the consulate; they cancelled the original visa and issued a new one which was exactly the same as before (short stay); there was a note with it saying that "though this looks like a short-stay visa, it is really a long-stay one, however you must apply for a carte de séjour immediately after arrival" – Szabolcs May 2 '16 at 11:40
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    @Gala researchers get a 1 year visa, and when we arrive we have to immediately apply for the "titre de sejour" which confusingly is a passport sticker. Then a year later, we finally get a carte de sejour, which again lasts one year and needs renewal. – la femme cosmique May 2 '16 at 18:35
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    @Iguananaut I think that the titre de sejour essentially is the carte de sejour. You have to mail in all that stuff, and then you will get an appointment in the mail, and then you will have a stressful few hours getting your sticker from them. Then, again, a year later, you do the same thing and get a little card (carte). But the sticker (titre de sejour) and the card (also called titre de sejour, which is also a carte de sejour) are the same thing. At least, that's what I think. It may be that long-term people (>1yr) get a card that last longer and is just called carte de sejour. – la femme cosmique May 3 '16 at 16:59
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    @lafemmecosmique OK, I forgot to mention this but my understanding is that a titre de séjour is anything allowing you to stay for longer than three months, it can be a visa long séjour valant titre de séjour (but only with the sticker you mentioned?), a carte de séjour or a carte de resident. – Gala May 3 '16 at 18:02
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    I think how it works is that you start with: a visa, then get the sticker once you enter (it's a separate page in your passport with no expiration date visible) and you can only enter the country using ONLY the visa for the 1st 3 mos. The sticker is tied to the visa expiry (1y) and gives you FOM until the visa expires. Then you replace both with the plastic card with allows for FOM in Schengen and everything that the visa and the sticker did. And eventually with a multi year carte de resident or naturalisation if you're into that. – la femme cosmique May 3 '16 at 19:55
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According to the OFII website, the part that makes this whole process logical is explained by this:

"L’accomplissement de l’ensemble des formalités est attesté par l’OFII par apposition d’une vignette-visa sur votre passeport. C’est cette validation qui donne valeur de titre de séjour à votre visa."

"The completion of all the formalities with OFII is attested by the insertion of a sticker in your passport. It is this validation which transforms your visa into a residence permit (titre de séjour)"

The whole process seems illogical because of the false assumption that you (and many anglophones including me) made in your first paragraph: that the visa is a titre de séjour: it is not. This was explained to me by the embassy in my country of origin; after three months in France, no matter what the expiry date on my visa, if I didn't have an OFII sticker by then, the visa would cease to allow me to stay in France.

(This might have been better as a comment but I don't have the rep :( )

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    Thanks for pointing that out. It's still a bit confusing to me since I'm used to a visa being the document that's letting me be in the country in the first place. I guess under this system the visa gets you across the border, but the titre de séjour is what grants you rights once actually in the country. – Iguananaut Jul 11 '17 at 9:35

protected by phoog Mar 23 '18 at 18:41

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