You’ve been here in Paris for a day, and it’s already in your blood. The food, the fashion, the very air you breathe proclaim, “this is my home.” Great! Now, you just have to figure out how to stay as long as you want.
It’s not hard to find ways to do so, but you might need an espresso or two to navigate the bureaucracy that you’ll deal with along the way.
Hey, the French simply shake it off and move on, and you want to be “French,” yes?
Here are some things to consider.
1. Get a permanent visa and carte vitale.
First things first. Your paperwork must be in order.
The carte de séjour (CDS), the official residence card in France, is a requirement for long-term residents and must be taken care of within the first three months of arrival.
You can get it through the French Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII).
There are many horror stories about long lines, confusing procedures, and mix-ups.
But you are brave, yes?
And nothing will stop you from your dream of living in France as long as you want.
Take a deep breath, smell the daisies, and sally forth!
You will need to fill out your application and take it, along with your passport, proof of accommodation, and payment to an OFII office, and then, after an interview, medical exam, and shelling out some euros, you should receive a stamp in your passport.
Et voilà! A carte de séjour.
Also, you must get your social security card (carte vitale), too, as all French residents are required to have health insurance, which you access through your carte vitale.
CPAM administers French healthcare, and you’ll need to register at the local office in your fabulous arrondissement using the Ameli website.
Your paperwork must show proof of having your entry papers in order (hence the carte de séjour), proof you are who you say you are, where you were born (birth certificate), where you live, banking information, employment, and your application form, naturellement.
As a side note, your birth certificate must come from your country of birth, and be translated by a court-certified translator in France, only.
You can read about my own experience with this system, to give you an idea of what you might go through. Hopefully, you’ll have smoother sailing than I did!
2. Become a student.
This is done the world over.
One of the easiest ways to stay in any country for an extended period of time is to go to school.
So, what interests you? History, Art, Science?
Paris is full of schools that will cater to a variety of disciplines.
You’ll experience the culture, make lots of new friends and increase your knowledge, all at the same time.
3. Start a company.
This is not for the faint of heart, because the steps to actually opening your business are legion.
Of course, you must have a visa de long sejour which will state the nature of the business in which you’ll partake, and have your carte vitale (see why we started with that now?) Then you’ll need to register your business at the Centre des Formalités des Entreprises (CFE), which will forward your application to the Greffe (French commercial court), and after payment, you’ll get a receipt as proof of completion. I would frame that thing. It’s a badge of honor.
You will receive a document called an extrait K for sole trader (entrepreneur/self-employed) or an Extrait Kbis for companies, depending on how you registered your business, within two weeks. Your new enterprise will have a registration number known as the SIRET.
4. Get a company to sponsor you.
Wouldn’t it be lovely to be so revered by a company that they are willing to brave the hallowed halls of French bureaucracy on your behalf in order to have your worthy talents for themselves?
Pat yourself on the back if this is the case.
You’ve earned it!
On the company’s end, they have to prove that your wonderful talents and expertise cannot be fulfilled by a French citizen.
Once they have convinced the French government of that, then it’s merely a matter of paperwork.
Thus, if you’re a computer wizard well-versed in COBOL who speaks ten languages and can juggle eggs while standing on one foot, you’re in!
All jokes aside, having a skill that is one-of-a-kind makes it easier for you and the company you’re targeting to get you that coveted goal of living in France on a long-term basis.
5. Learn French.
Sorry, but this one is necessary for your survival, whether you plan to stay for a month or forever.
You’re living in a French-speaking country, so, while there are organizations and expat communities and many other awesome resources out there that will assist you with various processes in France, in English, knowing the local lingo is a sure way of announcing, “I’m one of you!” and “I belong!” It will help you understand the culture better, make friends, and perhaps find that perfect job that was out of your reach before because you didn’t speak the language.
6. Teach English.
Okay, so you took the student route, and now you’re finished with your studies, but you want to stay a little longer, and you need to work.
You know, so you can buy wine, hang out with your friends and eat chocolate all day.
Well, if you speak English, that goes a long way to being qualified to either assist someone teaching the language or doing so yourself, one-on-one.
There are classifieds for locals who are interested in learning English, which has become the lingua franca of the planet, for the most part.
You’re already halfway there!
With the exceptions of assistantship programs operated by the French government or the British Council, those looking to teach English in France will find the vast majority of teaching and tutoring opportunities in-person locally on the ground in France. Here are the top 21 Tips for Finding Jobs Teaching English in France.
7. Marry or enter into a civil union with a French citizen.
You’re in love.
Your French boyfriend or girlfriend is talking about being together forever, and you want that, too.
Well, say “I do!” already, because then you can become a French citizen (after around five to ten years), and then you’ll never have to leave unless you really want to.
As long as you’ve lived together for at least a year, with both your names on the utility bills, rental leases, tax return, and so forth, your spouse / civil union partner-to-be can file for you.
And as always, make sure you have your paperwork in order, and remember to remain calm as you face down the bureaucrats.
It’s a well-used route by many: buy property, invest in a business, keep a close eye on your prospects.
This way, you will have a reason to stay in France to protect your interests, or at least visit very often.
9. Win the lottery.
In all seriousness, having a lot of money pretty much guarantees your entry into any country.
With wealth, you can do just about anything, and countries love it when capital is brought into the economy.
You may deal with a higher rate of tax in France, but if you’re that wealthy, do you really care?