France Retirement Visa & Residence Permits

Retiring in France is the long term life dream of many, but people are often shocked when they look into the details and realise there is no retirement visa for the country. There are, however, a number of alternative options that those hitting retirement age can use to live in France legally at the end of their working life.

Total Law specialise in immigration law, and even without a specific retirement visa we help Canadian nationals make it to France as their retirement destination. Get in touch with our North American office to learn more on +1 844 290 6312.

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    Canadians Wanting To Retire In France: The Basics

    There is no French visa specifically designed for foreign nationals to retire there, but the country’s other visa options do offer alternative routes.

    Retiring in France can be achieved by those who are nationals of non-European Union (EU) or non-EEA (European Economic Area) through one of the obtainment of a long-term visa and, thereafter, a ‘carte de séjour visiteur’.

    Confusion often arises from the provision of a ‘carte de séjour retraite’, which is for foreign retirees but does not apply for those choosing to move to France past retirement age.

    Instead, this scheme is aimed at foreign citizens who were already granted permanent residency in France, retired elsewhere, and return to the country to visit.

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      How Can Canadians Retire In France?

      Canadians can travel to France and stay for a period of over three months through obtaining any class of long stay visa.

      However, with most of these valid only for those in paid employment, such schemes are rarely applicable for those looking to retire in France. Every visa holds its own eligibility criteria but the VLS Visiteur is the most commonly used by retirees.

      A Visa de Long Séjour valant Titre de Séjour – Visiteur (VLS-Visiteur). In essence a long stay visitor visa, the VLS Visiteur affords the holder permanent residence after a five-year initial period.

      While applicants for a VLS Visiteur do not need to be working, they do need to prove a sufficient income to not require any state benefit intervention for them to live – that is, at a level as high as France’s minimum working wage.

      This level is reviewed annually by the French government but sits consistently at around €1,300 monthly net income for an individual and €2,000 for a couple.

      However, ongoing proof of a monthly income does not need to be supplied. Instead, such a sum can be demonstrated as a year’s income in the bank as a lump sum.

      Historically, there was an option for residence granted in France as a result of purchasing a property and so many retirees chose this route and bought retirement homes in the process.

      This visa option has now been discontinued and so is no longer an option for Canadians wanting to move to the country.

      General Requirements To Retire In France

      If a retiree is applying for the VLS visitor visa in order to move to France, the eligibility requirements are fairly simple. These are:

      • The applicant must be a citizen of a country that is not part of the EU, EEA, and not be Swiss, Algerian, Monegasque, Vaticano or Sammarinese
      • The applicant must be able to prove an income as high as the French minimum wage. This can be a pension income, rental income or other investment income (essentially, anything other than active ongoing employment)
      • The applicant must have valid health insurance cover to ensure they don’t need to rely on state-provided health facilities
      • The applicant may need to prove that they have a clean criminal record in their country of residence.

      As part of the application process for a long stay visa, applicants will need to supply a range of supporting documents to reinforce their eligibility to the French authorities. Additional documents may be requested at any point during the processing period, but as standard the applicant is expected to supply:

      • A valid passport that was issued no longer than 10 years ago and expires no sooner than three months after the initial visa stay period
      • 2x standardised passport photos
      • A completed, signed and dated application form
      • A completed, signed and dated OFII (French Office of Immigration and Integration) form
      • Proof of monthly worldwide income that equals at least as much as France’s minimum wage. This can be demonstrated either as monthly sums going into a bank or as a lump sum equating to a year.

      Applicants may be invited to a medical examination as part of their application, and in this instance they may be required to provide their personal medical records.

      How To Obtain Residency In France For Retirement

      Retiring in France and becoming legally resident there under a VLS Visiteur visa does involve some formal administration, but with the right help this process is easily navigable. Every application varies on the individual circumstances of the applicant, but the following listed in this step by step guide is considered standard procedure:

      Seek appropriate legal assistance

      Once you’ve been through the process of choosing France to retire in and are looking to make a start on applying, it’s recommended that legal assistance is sought in order to best guarantee the chances of a successful application. Total Law are one such firm that specialise in immigration law and help Canadians become permanent residents of France daily. Give our North American HQ a call on +1 844 290 6312 to talk through your circumstances.

      Compile supporting documents

      All of the supporting documentation required for an application should be compiled well in advance to ensure everything is found, everything is up-to-date and everything meets the needs of the French Consulate. Documents not already in the French language (or at least partially in French) will need translating and legalising. This includes documents detailing sufficient income amounts (usually bank statements), health insurance coverage and information on your intended French home.

      Log Visa Assistant account online

      The initial request for a visa is made online through the French Government Visa Assistant website. This guides the user through the qualifying criteria to obtain a visa and then allows them to register their interest with their local French Consulate or Embassy.

      Attend appointment for formal application

      An appointment is made at the local Consulate or Embassy of the applicant, and at this appointment (usually completed in person except in certain circumstances allowing exemption), the application form and supporting documents are submitted. In some instances, biometric data such as fingerprints will be taken. A non-refundable fee of €99 is payable at the application appointment.

      Submit any further requested documents

      In some situations, the French immigration authorities may require further information on the applicant. If this is the case, they will be in contact with details. Applications are paused until such documents are received.

      Receive decision

      Applications for VLS Visiteur visas should be made no sooner than three months prior to the intended arrival date of the applicant, and so it rarely takes any longer than this for a decision to be made. In the event of a rejection, there may be an appeal route – and if so, details on this will be supplied.

      Travel to France

      Once the visa has been granted, the applicant is free to travel to France.

      Register with OFII

      No more than three months after the applicant has crossed a border to enter France, they must register with the OFII. At this registration, the long stay visa will equate to a residence permit. To initiate this registration, the visa holder can either submit a form to them in the post or register online. Once registration has been accepted, an OFII sticker is affixed to the visa holder’s passport. This allows them to legally reside in France for the duration of their visa.

      Sign citizenship contract

      The visa holder must sign a Contrat d’Integration Republicaine (Republican Citizenship Contract). This does not equate to receiving French citizenship but does provide access to resident rights.

      Extend visa as required

      Providing a visa holder still meets the criteria for a VLS Visiteur, they may extend their stay in France beyond its expiry date. This is done through the submission of a further residence permit application to the local Prefecture (Police HQ) any time in the final two months of VLS Visiteur period.

      Obtaining French Permanent Residency & Citizenship

      Not all retirees in France on a long stay visa and carte de sejour choose to apply for French citizenship but they can after a set amount of time.

      Unless applicants meet the family, birth or descent requirements to become a French citizen, they will need to apply for citizenship through naturalisation. France offers this as a route to nationality after an individual has lived in the country under a valid temporary or permanent residency card for a continuous period of five years or more. At this point, the applicant must:

      • Be willing to declare their allegiance to France, and if resident of a state that does not accept dual citizenship, to give up their prior nationality
      • Be able to prove that they have sufficient and stable resources to integrate into the French way of life permanently
      • Be able to prove that they can understand, speak, read and write the French language to at least a B1 level.

      For French residents to become French nationals through the naturalisation process is considered an honour and so the requirements are stringent. Applications are often denied even if much of the criteria is met and so it is recommended that specialist support is sought for the process. Total Law can help with citizenship applications as well as visa applications; with our team contactable on +1 844 290 6312 for both.

      Total Law’s Team Can Help You Retire To France

      Total Law’s North American office has helped numerous Canadian citizens realise their dreams of retiring to France to enjoy the Mediterranean climate, rich cultural heritage and laid back way of life. Whether you’re applying for a VLS Visiteur or other visa class to support your retirement, our team can support you through the application process from start to finish.

      Give us a call on +1 844 290 6312 for advice and guidance on relevant documentation, private international health insurance coverage, the sufficient income visitor visas require and anything else pertinent to your application.

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                Frequently Asked Questions

                As long as they’re eligible and able to supply the required proof, retirees may use any long stay visa to live in France as there is no specific retirement visa.

                Anyone with a valid French visa can travel to other EU and Schengen Zone countries visa-free, unless specifically stipulated against.

                Those retiring to France from a non-EU or non-EEA country must be able to prove that they will not be reliant on the French healthcare system. As a result, their health insurance must cover a minimum of €30,000 as well as emergency treatments, medical repatriation and coverage across all Schengen states. All medical costs should be covered by insurance.

                As part of the application process for a VLS Visiteur, usually applicants will need to provide proof of their intended accommodation in France. This may be a proposed or finalised rental agreement, or registration of interest in buying a property.

                Expats retiring to France are not eligible for state benefits. However, they often find that apartment prices are lower in specific retirement complexes and that the estimated monthly cost of living in France is considerably less than it is for younger people, making daily life easier.