10-Year Residence Card In France

If you have continuously resided legally in France for at least 5 years and have a valid residence permit, you may be eligible for the 10-year residence card. This card is a common choice amongst Americans looking to settle in France.

This card has numerous eligibility criteria and the process of applying can be complicated. Contact Total Law today on +1 844 290 6312 or send a message online, to learn about how our immigration experts can provide you with bespoke legal advice.

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    10 Year Residence Card France: An Overview

    For many Americans who wish to reside in France long-term, they seek to obtain a residence card.

    You will generally be eligible for a residence card after residing in France for 5 continuous years, although it is sometimes possible to obtain a card either immediately upon arriving in France or after residing in France for 3 years, depending on your specific circumstances.

    The particular details of each of these routes are specified later in this article.

    The residence card which is labeled ‘long-term resident – EU’ also allows the holder to reside within certain other countries in the European Union for longer than the usual 3 months.

    Specifically, you will be able to stay in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

    The residence card lasts for 10 years and can be extended upon its expiry. If you are the holder of a residence card, your spouse and children may also be eligible to join you in France.

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      The Eligibility Criteria for France's 10 Year Residence Card

      Overview

      In order to receive the French residence card, you will generally need to have resided legally and consistently in France for at least 5 years. This will entitle you to the residence card with the label ‘long-term resident – EU’.

      Note that not all residence permits count towards this 5-year minimum. The details of which permits do and do not count will be covered later in this article.

      To be eligible for a 5-year residence card, you will also need to provide evidence of French health insurance and sufficient means of supporting yourself (at least equal to the French minimum wage, around €20,000 as of 2023).

      However, there are also certain situations in which you may not be required to reside in France for 5 years before becoming eligible for the residence card. These are as follows:

      Eligible Immediately Upon Arrival In France

      You may be eligible to receive a residence card immediately upon your first arrival into France if any of the following conditions apply to you:

      • You are the spouse of a French national and you have been married to them for at least 3 years. Note that this goes down to 1 year if you are a Tunisian national.
      • You are a non-European child who is under 21 years old, or you are dependent on a French national.
      • You are the dependent ascendant of a French national or their spouse.
      • You are not a European national and you entered France for the purpose of family reunification with a foreign national who has a French residence card.
      • You are not a European national but were born in France.
      • You are a refugee or stateless person, or the family member of one.
      • You are a non-European who has either a workplace accident or occupational illness pension (or are the family member of one).
      • You are a non-European with a residence permit which has the label ‘retired’.
      • You are a non-European veteran or legionnaire.

      In any of these situations, you may not need to meet the usual condition of having resided in France for at least 5 years.

      After 3 years of residing in France

      If you have consistently and legally resided in France for 3 years rather than 5, you may still be eligible for a residence card. You may be eligible if any of the following conditions apply to you:

      • If you are a citizen of a country which has signed a bilateral agreement with France.
        • The countries with such an agreement are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Chad, Togo, and Tunisia. However, the specific conditions of eligibility differ depending on the country of nationality in question and its specific agreement with France. For example, Moroccan nationals must possess a residence permit which has the label ‘employee’ in order to be eligible for this route.
        • You also have a stable and regular means of supporting yourself.
      • You are in France for the purposes of family reunification, and have joined a family member who has a residence card.
      • You have a French child and have been regularly residing in France over the last 3 years in virtue of being the parent of this child, on a ‘private and family life’ temporary residence permit.

      To receive your initial residence card, you will need to commit to integrating into French society and will generally also need to demonstrate a sufficient level of proficiency in the French language.

      It is also important to maintain your eligibility once you have been granted a residence card. In particular, your residence card may lose its validity if you live outside of France or the EU for at least 3 consecutive years.

      If you have the standard residence card, the card will lose its validity if you live outside of France for 3 consecutive years or more.

      If you have the residence card which is marked ‘long-term resident – EU’, however, you can live outside of France for 3 consecutive years, but your card will lose validity if you live outside of the EU for 3 consecutive years or more.

      Step-by-Step Application Process for French Residence Card

      The application process for the residence card depends on whether you are applying from within or outside of France.

      If you are applying from outside of France, you will need to contact your local French consulate or embassy in order to book an appointment.

      You should do so within 3 months of the date on which you intend to arrive in France. If you are an American citizen residing in America, you have a number of consular options.

      The French Embassy is located in Washington DC, but there are also a number of French consulates from which you can choose. In particular, these are located in Atlanta, Massachusetts, Washington, New York, Texas, California, Illinois, Louisiana, and Florida. Note that California has two French consulates, one in San Francisco and one in Los Angeles.

      If your application is successful, the embassy or consulate will grant you a long-stay visa. This visa will allow you to legally enter France, and will be valid for up to 3 months.

      Upon arrival in France, you must then contact your local Prefecture or Sub-prefecture, depending on where you reside in France.

      These act as local representatives of the national government, and they will grant you the certificate of residence, which is valid for 10 years.

      If you already reside in France at the time of applying for your residence card, you should contact your local Prefecture or Sub-prefecture directly and request a change of status.

      You should do so within 2 months of the expiry date of your current residence permit. If your application is successful, you will then be granted a residence card, which acts as a residence permit for up to 10 years, and can be renewed upon expiry.

      What Documents Should I Provide?

      The particular documents which you require will depend on the specific nature of your application.

      You will require different documents if you are applying after 5 years of continuous and legal residence in France than if you are applying having just arrived in the country, for example.

      However, generally speaking, the documents which you require will involve a combination of the following:

      • Either your passport, a consular attestation with a photo, photo ID, a consular card with a photo, or a certificate of nationality with a photo (which must be from within the last 6 months)
      • A valid national identity card
      • Proof of address (from within the last 6 months). This could be a bill, a recently signed tenancy agreement, or a bank statement registered to your French address, for example
      • 3 passport photos which meet the French specifications
      • Proof that you have paid the stamp duty fee
      • If your country of origin allows polygamy, a declaration that you will not engage in polygamy when in France
      • Proof that you have resided legally and continuously within France for at least 5 years. This could include your past residence permits, tax notices, work contracts, or school certificates, for example. Note that this will only be necessary if you are applying for a residence card on the grounds of having lived in France for 5 years
      • Any previous residence permits which you have used to legally reside in France
      • Proof that you possess French health insurance
      • Signed Republican Integration contract
      • Proof of French language proficiency (if you are under 65 years old)

      Which Residence Permits Count Towards The 5 Years?

      As already noted, not all residence permits count towards your 5 years of continuous and legal residence. The residence cards which do count are as follows:

      • A Talent Passport which has one of the following labels: ‘European Blue Card’, ‘Qualified employee’, ‘Employee in a young innovative company’, ‘Investor’, ‘Company director’, ‘Business creator’, or ‘Innovative economic project holder’
      • ‘Employee’ temporary residence permit
      • ‘Entrepreneur/liberal profession’ temporary residence permit

      The following residence permits, however, do not count towards your 5 years of legal and continuous residence:

      • Student
      • Intern
      • ICT Intern
      • Beneficiary of subsidiary protection
      • Refugee
      • Seasonal worker
      • Retired
      • Spouse of retired person
      • ‘Employee on assignment’ talent passport
      • Multi-year ‘ICT seconded employee’ or ‘ICT mobile seconded employee’

      If you wish to eventually settle in France but do not have a residence permit which counts towards the 5 years period of continuous and legal residence, you might consider trying to switch to a new residence permit.

      In order to apply for a change of status, you should contact your local Prefecture or Sub-prefecture.

      How Much Does The Application Cost?

      In order to apply for the French residence permit, you will need to pay €25 in stamp duty and €200 in tax.

      Make sure to retain evidence of the stamp duty payment as you will need this as part of your application.

      If you wish to renew your residence card once the 10 years of validity have passed, you will need to pay €225.

      You may also wish to pay for legal assistance in order to receive help with your application. Contact Total Law today on +1 844 290 6312 to find out more about the particular services we offer.

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        Processing Time for French Residence Card

        The exact processing time of your application will depend on a range of factors, including how many other applications are also being processed at the same time and whether you have submitted all of the required documents correctly. Generally, however, your application will be processed within 2 months.

        In order to ensure that your application runs as smoothly as possible, make sure that you satisfy all the eligibility criteria and have all the required documents at the start of your application.

        Renewing the Residence Cards

        If you wish to renew your residence card, you must make sure to do so within 2 months of your current card’s expiry date. You will need to contact your local Prefecture or Sub-prefecture in order to request the renewal.

        If you possess a residence card with the ‘long-term resident – EU’ label, you may be granted an indefinite resident card.

        The cost of renewing your residence card is €225.

        Can I Work In France With A Residence Card?

        Possessing the residence card will allow you to engage in paid employment of your choice, so long as you meet the specifications of the role. In this respect, it differs from a residence permit, where work authorization is often tied to a specific role or industry.

        You will not need to apply for a new card if you wish to switch to a new company or industry, for example.

        However, note that if your residence card is issued by a French overseas territory, you will not be able to work in mainland France.

        So too, if you are issued a residence card in mainland France, you will not be able to work in the French overseas territories. As such, make sure to apply for the specific territory in which you wish to have employment.

        Can My Family Join Me In France?

        If you are a French residence card holder, your family may be eligible to join you in France under the family reunification route.

        If you have lived in France for at least 18 months, your children and spouse can apply for their own residence cards. They might also choose to apply for residence permits in their own right, independently of you, if they have found work in France, for example.

        How Can Total Law Help?

        France is a varied and thriving country which offers a range of benefits to its residents. These include a rich culture, a fascinating history, great food, and numerous areas of natural beauty. As such, France is an increasingly popular option for Americans looking to relocate to Europe.

        There are many routes to a residence card for Americans looking to settle in France. However, it can be difficult to know which route is right for you. At Total Law, our immigration experts have many years of experience with cases exactly like this. We can provide you with a range of services, including help gathering the right documents, locating your local Prefecture, and applying for your certificate of residence once you arrive in France. Contact us today on +1 844 290 6312 or message us online, to learn more about how we can help with your own immigration journey.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  A residence permit is different from a residence card in that it is valid for a shorter period of time and generally has more conditions attached. For instance, residence permits generally only authorize the holder to work in a specific capacity, whereas a residence permit allows the holder to work in any role for which they are qualified.

                  A residence card is valid for 10 years. Residence permits are valid for a shorter period of time, though the specifics depend on the type of residence permit in question. Some are valid for 1 year, for instance, but can be renewed if the holder continues to satisfy the eligibility criteria.

                  Not all residence permits provide a route to obtaining a residence card. Being in France on a Student residence permit is not an eligible route to getting a residence card, for example.

                  Once obtained, the residence card acts as a residence permit for the holder.

                  When you have resided legally and constantly in France for at least 5 years, you can apply to obtain French citizenship through naturalization. This will allow you to remain in France indefinitely.

                  There are also certain situations in which you can apply for French naturalization without having to first reside in France for 5 years, for example if you have refugee status, are from a French-speaking country and speak French as your first language, have done military service in the French army, or are from a Francophone country and have spent 5 or more years enrolled in a French-speaking teaching institution.

                  You may also be eligible to naturalize as a French citizen after 2 years, for instance if you spent 2 or more years at a French university and received a diploma, or if you have rendered important services to France.

                  You will generally need to demonstrate sufficient proficiency in the French language in order to obtain a French residence card. In particular, you will need to reach at least the B1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CERL). This is one of the integration criteria for settling in France.

                  However, there are some circumstances in which demonstrating proficiency in the French language will not be necessary. For example, you will not need to demonstrate proficiency in French if you studied French in a Francophone country, if you are over 65, or if your health does not allow you to complete the language assessment.

                  A French residence card means that the holder does not have to regularly apply for or renew a standard residence permit. It therefore allows the holder to have a greater level of stability, in addition to greater work flexibility.

                  If you wish to settle in France long-term, the residence card could be the right fit for you. It is a common choice with Americans wishing to live in France permanently.