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I am a USA national. My wife is a French national (children dual). We reside in the USA. My wife is a professor and has received a sabbatical. We will accompany my wife on her sabbatical. We intend to spend the first part in South Africa. We intend to be there for very nearly three months and then go to France. From what I have read, I am supposed to apply for my French long-stay visa (for spouse of French national) in my country of residence and within three months of arriving in France. This leaves a very narrow window in which to secure a visa at the consulate here in the USA.

Other information: We will be in France for ~4.5 months. I am a software developer and will continue to work for my USA company while in France. I will have business in Spain (attending conference) during my stay in France. I may want to visit countries outside the Schengen area while staying in France (e.g. Morocco).

I have read what official resources there are about visas that are provided in English. I know there is more information in French but I do not read French well enough to navigate those resources.

So, is there any way I can either, apply for the long-stay visa while in South Africa or apply for it after I arrive in France (which would, by default, be on a short-stay visa)? Any other ideas? I would prefer to stay within proscribed procedures rather than taking any chances.

  • Has your wife lived in any other EU country? – phoog Aug 23 '16 at 17:23
  • My wife has not lived in any other EU country. – Huliax Aug 24 '16 at 1:08
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From the page on long-term visas (https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F16162):

Cas particulier du visa de l'époux de Français

...

À savoir : si vous êtes entré en France démuni du VLS-TS, vous pouvez néanmoins recevoir une carte de séjour vie privée et familiale, sous certaines conditions.

This means, more or less:

If you entered France without a long-term visa, you can nonetheless get a family residence permit under certain conditions.

The page on family residence permits is at https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F2209, and it lists these conditions. One of the conditions is that you live at least six months together in France. Your question indicates that you will only be in France for about four and a half months, so this does not apply to you.

I would make an application to the consulate in whose territory you reside in the US, perhaps one month before you leave for South Africa, explaining that you will be outside the US. If they cannot take you a month early, maybe they can do it a day or two early; the application does not take long to process. For example, according to http://www.consulfrance-newyork.org/Delais-de-procedure#sommaire_1, the consulate in New York can issue the visa in just one day if your application is complete.

If they can't process your application at all, perhaps they can arrange to have your application processed in South Africa. For short-term Schengen visas, at least, the visa code requires consulates to handle applications from travelers who are away from home because of legitimate long-term travel plans, so they are not in a position where they cannot apply for a visa.

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