Long Stay French Visa - Our application and interview/appointment. (1 Viewer)

Jun 26, 2018
1,011
5,418
North West
Funster No
54,605
MH
Florium Wincester
Exp
Europe & USA since April '21
Warning this is a long one. But hopefully will help those seeking to do the same as us.

After returning from our recent Spanish winter trip, we decided to apply for a long stay French Visa. As with most things motorhome related, we searched mhf first and found two helpful threads. The application process takes time and patience, especially if you intend ringing TLS. TLS are the company contracted by the French government, to receive, check and send off the visa applications to the French Consulate. I'm glad I read TLS's feedback after we booked our appointment. More on this later.

We applied for a 180 day visa (more than 3 months, less than 6), as it suited what we wanted to do. I won't go into everything needed in the application. This is available online and on previous threads here. Getting together everything that's needed is not too difficult, but can take some time. We had to wait for proof of pensions. All in all it took about a week of printing, organising the paperwork and getting photographs taken. This was done at our local Max Spielman, who provide a nice (not cheap) folder with visa approved, photographs. More on this also, later.

We completed the application form on line first and sent this off. Then and only then, can you book an appointment at one of the TLS centres. Manchester was nearest to us and we had no trouble getting an appointment in five days time. We could've got one on the next day if we wanted. It's worth bringing up the 'Premium Service' at this point. You can if you want to, pay £50 per person to be able to sit on comfy sofas in a separate room whilst waiting. Then a dedicated assistant will process your application free from the others. We chose not to do this and sat with the others.

Before you set off to the appointment, please, please make sure that all of your paperwork is in order. It is vital that you do this, as it's £30 per person, per appointment. If you've not got a complete set, plus copies, you can either pay £50 each to use the premium service, or arrange another appointment. We had a multi page plastic sleeve folder with everything, original and copies, in the right order.

The covering letter....

As I'd read that one funster had to explain what a motorhome/camping car is, I decided to copy and paste some photos of Elsie onto the letter. We also stated that even though we had our first night booked at an aire, we would be staying at official aires and campsites throughout our stay. We also stated we had booked a villa for a week, for family to visit. This was about 4 weeks into the 6 month duration. We also added the promise that we would not be working during the visa period. In addition we provided reasons why we wanted to spend six months in France.

The Plan.....

In addition to the covering letter, we provided a 'Plan' of our 'Project' (what the French call it). It detailed a list of towns and villages we would visit. Basically we would travel down the West coast to the South. Then zig zag across on our way back North. I used google maps to provide a predicted mileage, but provided no dates. The plan also included fuel cost, tolls and an average daily cost of sites, food and incidental expenses. This exceeded the daily rate recommended by the French. It was also backed up by our savings account statements.

The appointment.....

I just happened to read the reviews for TLS Manchester the night before our appointment. Hmmm! I got about three hours sleep that night. I've never read such a number of negative reviews, depicting stress, trauma, upset, anger, poor customer service etc. etc. etc. We were not filled with confidence on our journey that morning. We'd left two hours before our appointment time, to travel the 32 miles to the centre. After three crashes on the M62, we arrived with 5 minutes to spare! There were already 40 or so Chinese students and a Romanian chap (yes!) already in the queue. One of the reviews was from a chap who waited nearly three hours to be seen.

Thankfully we were called in at the right time for our appointment. The first assistant just checked our appointment confirmation form (don't forget to print this out) and looked at our photographs. We then entered the main seating area, passing the 'Premium' lounge on our way in. We waited for about 35 minutes before being seen. But at least we were sitting down. Eventually we were called to the window and a very nice French girl started with our application. What was funny that the premium lounge had one person in it and after he left, the girl then started helping those who hadn't paid £50.

Everything was going smoothly until we mentioned motorhome. I had to then write a letter stating that we would be travelling around in the motorhome. Even though it was in our covering letter. Then when it got to the V5 for Elsie, the assistant asked if it was in both of our names?? This was because Clare would obviously be travelling with me. She then asked for a copy of our marriage certificate, because Clare was not down as dual owner. Which we didn't have with us and was neither a requirement for the application. I then had to write another letter stating that Clare was my wife and would be travelling with me on the trip. We both had to write out another promise that we would not work on our trip. Even though this was in our initial covering letter. The assistant said we had to do this because our covering letter was too long!!! Even though it states very clearly on the French Embassy site, to fully explain why we wanted to go to France etc.

At this point I'll get back to the photos. Rather than do our own, we went to our local photo shop and had them taken in accordance with visa requirements. When the assistant saw my photos she just laughed and said they would not be accepted. I said we had them taken officially according to the visa requirements and showed the Max Spielman folder with a nice copy of the French flag on it. She then showed this to her supervisor and changed her mind. This got me suspicious as I'd read plenty of reviews from people having to have a photo taken again, at the TLS centre, on THEIR machine for £8 a pop. Mmmm! a money making exercise? Anyway thankfully they accepted ours. If they hadn't, I'd have taken them back to Max Speilman for a refund. Obviously with a note signed by the TLS saying they were not good enough.

Eventually, we finished going through the forms and were given a sealed pouch with our applications in. We handed this in to the Biometrics guy and joined the queue for fingerprints and photos to be taken.

And that was that!

We spent two hours inside going through the process and our applications are now at the French Embassy/consulate. All in all our experience was nowhere near as bad as the reviews made out. The assistant was very helpful and we got the impression that they wanted our application to be successful. Now we wait for the result......

And Finally, what was in our application folder??

1. Appointment confirmation. 2. Application form. 3. Registration receipt. 4. Passports. 5. ID photos. 6. Covering letter.
7. Plan. 8. Proof of Pensions. 9. Current Account statements. 10. Savings Account statements. 11. Proof of travel booking.
12. Proof of accomodation booked. 13. GHIC cards. 14. Health Insurance. 15. Driving licenses. 16. V5 for motorhome.
17. Motorhome insurance.
 
Mar 28, 2023
2
2
Funster No
94,853
MH
Pilote explorator
Hi Dave, Very helpful so thanks for taking the time to work though this and for signaling where the bear traps might lie!

Strong stomach and a long time frame seem to be essential.

One think I could not pick up on from your post - was - whether this visa covers our requirement to leave France (and thus the EU) at some point and travel to Morocco for an extended period, and then still return to France and eventually back to UK within the visa timeframe. This assumes that a French 6 month visa can be split into 2 different trips - in such a way that the 90 rule is observed.

Is there any guidance out there?

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daveclare
Jun 26, 2018
1,011
5,418
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54,605
MH
Florium Wincester
Exp
Europe & USA since April '21
There are a few sites offering advice. We applied for a visa allowing exit and re-entry. From what I've read and understand. The visa can't be suspended and started again once you leave. You get 180 days and that's that....I think, so check this. You can however attach your normal 90 days shengen stay onto the end. Thus giving you 270 days.

The problem is the default answer would be to check with TLS. However, from what I've also read, this can be confusing, as advice given is not consistent. I suppose the only way of really finding out would be to ask the relevant embassies.

What was confusing and I didn't say this in my earlier post is the next time one applies for a long term visa, after the first one has expired. We were talking to a couple in the centre, who own a house in France. They applied for a 180 day visa last year and have recently re-applied for another.

Apparently, (I haven't checked this) the visa website told them they couldn't apply for a new visa until 6 months after the most recent one had expired. This caused some concern at the desk as the couple told me that when they tried on line, the website refused them an opportunity to renew. When they rang TLS up for some advice. The agent said to change the expiry date of their old visa, on their new application, so they could apply online. To me this could make it a fraudulent application and get a definite no from the embassy, to their new application. They had a chat with the assistant in the centre at the time and the application has been sent off.

This 6 month delay, if true, is a bit stupid as any future applications will be constantly put back. Thus losing opportunity to go away when you want. I suppose we'll find out next year when we try to do the same.
 

Mother Ship

LIFE MEMBER
Feb 21, 2011
441
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15,393
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Pilote 626D
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Since 1986
Oct 12, 2009
10,852
24,021
SW London, Poland and all Europe
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8,876
MH
A Class N+B Arto 69GL
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Since 2009
For those who have houses in France, why not get Residence in France.

A UK born person can do anything they want about entering, residing etc. in UK even if Resident abroad.

Your income and tax situation may or not change as there is a double-taxation agreement.

As far as a vehicle is concerned I believe it is a matter of whether the vehicle is in France for more than 6 months, which may not be the case, as to need to re-register.

I you still have a UK address and bank account most things like Pensions and vehicle registration can still be UK based.

There may be some aspects which I have missed, please advise.

I seem to manage in Poland as a Polish Resident, no assets here - all in UK, all tax in UK, but just had to re-register the MH. Just have to sort out OH not getting clobbered for double(UK and Poland) Inheritance Tax, as double-taxation agreement does not cover IHT.
 

haganap

LIFE MEMBER
Dec 5, 2007
12,793
26,835
planet earth
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974
MH
Niesman+Bischoff 79e
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I'm an oldbie MH number 10
interesting read.

I'm fortunate as I have a Portuguese passport and ID card, but sounds a big battle to remain.
 
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OP
daveclare
Jun 26, 2018
1,011
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:LOL: We would. Well worth it for 180 days of better food, scenery and lots more. Already travelled from Hawaii to Australia and in between. Now need to spend time in France, Spain and all of the others. Forget Morocco, not for us. But enjoy watching and hearing about others who go there.

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Oct 12, 2009
10,852
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8,876
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Since 2009
I know that those of us who are Residents in EU countries are a minority on here, but not a small minority.

I as a Polish Resident am still like most of you restricted to 90/180 anywhere outside Poland, as are all Residents outside their host country, but not Citizens.

I have read the very informative posts about the process of applying for an extended visa for France, which would allow us to tour more weeks in Europe generally since the time in France would not eat into the 90 days. Applying would mean the hassle of travelling to Warsaw to apply and sod's law says that some bit of paper would be wrong and need a return visit.

With no internal border checks inside Schengen I have weighed up the chances of being caught exceeding 90 days, including the fact that we would be travelling in a Polish registered MH so are unlikely to attract attention as being other than Polish Citizens, which OH is anyway.

Even if I were caught I might be fined and if deported I think it would have to be to Poland. Even if banned I doubt whether a French or Spanish government could cancel my Polish Residency. Also the ban would be ineffective without border checks, except if I tried to come into EU other than into Poland. All very remote as to not worry me.

On balance I have decided that if it suited me to exceed 90 days on any one trip I would take the risk. If I exceeded 90 days because of two separate trips within 180 days how would anyone know about the first trip? A trawl through '000s of ANPR cameras to find the registration of one vehicle that 'I had lent to Basia's son' ?

In general I think the authorities will not bother trying to enforce the 90/180 restrictions on Residents of EU countries just travelling, just as they do not enforce the requirement to register in a country after 90 days, unless one settles there. I was over the 90 days when I applied for Residence here and was told 2 years ago that I would receive a £100 fine, nothing happened.

Of course we can blame all this Administrative nonsense on the Napoleonic Code principles which are contrary to Common Law principles. I surmise that if the EU and Schengen acted under Common Law principles then these restrictions within EU/Schengen borders would not exist. Discuss. ;) :giggle:
 
Feb 22, 2016
3,652
11,151
York
Funster No
41,744
MH
Bailey 620 Approach
Exp
Since 2015
I know that those of us who are Residents in EU countries are a minority on here, but not a small minority.

I as a Polish Resident am still like most of you restricted to 90/180 anywhere outside Poland, as are all Residents outside their host country, but not Citizens.

I have read the very informative posts about the process of applying for an extended visa for France, which would allow us to tour more weeks in Europe generally since the time in France would not eat into the 90 days. Applying would mean the hassle of travelling to Warsaw to apply and sod's law says that some bit of paper would be wrong and need a return visit.

With no internal border checks inside Schengen I have weighed up the chances of being caught exceeding 90 days, including the fact that we would be travelling in a Polish registered MH so are unlikely to attract attention as being other than Polish Citizens, which OH is anyway.

Even if I were caught I might be fined and if deported I think it would have to be to Poland. Even if banned I doubt whether a French or Spanish government could cancel my Polish Residency. Also the ban would be ineffective without border checks, except if I tried to come into EU other than into Poland. All very remote as to not worry me.

On balance I have decided that if it suited me to exceed 90 days on any one trip I would take the risk. If I exceeded 90 days because of two separate trips within 180 days how would anyone know about the first trip? A trawl through '000s of ANPR cameras to find the registration of one vehicle that 'I had lent to Basia's son' ?

In general I think the authorities will not bother trying to enforce the 90/180 restrictions on Residents of EU countries just travelling, just as they do not enforce the requirement to register in a country after 90 days, unless one settles there. I was over the 90 days when I applied for Residence here and was told 2 years ago that I would receive a £100 fine, nothing happened.

Of course we can blame all this Administrative nonsense on the Napoleonic Code principles which are contrary to Common Law principles. I surmise that if the EU and Schengen acted under Common Law principles then these restrictions within EU/Schengen borders would not exist. Discuss. ;) :giggle:
See me after the lesson! 😉
 
Feb 19, 2023
199
512
France the Pyrenees
Funster No
94,107
MH
Hymer B544 2002
Exp
Newby to Motorhome but not to traveling, caravaning and camping
Popular thread! Thanks for sharing with us. I have been a resident in France sine 1999, issued with an automatic Carte de Séjour after Brexit. My friend, whose application we are just starting is much more complicated. He’s a Brit with full Cypriot residency, he came here to visit from Cyprus, via Germany in APRIL 2022 and unfortunately after a week, had a stroke and has been recovering ever since. We managed to get a copy of his S1 to cover medical expenses and treatment has been fantastic. He cannot now travel easily and depends on me.
Now, trying to fill in on line forms here is difficult as nothing seems to cover his circumstances. So I am at the point of contacting ‘a person’ about this, not a form or a ‘bot’! Wish us luck!
Interesting about TLS being used in the UK.

Something helpful for anyone filling in official forms in France, there is, in every village/town an ‘écrivain public’ - originally to help people years ago who could not read or write, is now fully employed helping anyone to fill in the very complicated French red tape paper work. Even though I am a fluent French speaker, I have used them several times when I needed explanation of various terms on my dreaded tax for. Ask at the town hall, Mairie, in France.
 
Apr 24, 2018
910
4,096
France
Funster No
53,567
MH
2001 Hymer B544
Exp
Since 1992
It’s worth it. What price a few weeks of hassle to go on a long holiday to our nearest neighbour country? Such minor things, even a collapsing currency and economy are such a tiny price to pay…

Think of what we now have outside that nasty, corrupt club, we have full control over our borders, a fantastic NHS with all that extra money, our food and shopping bills are all soooo much cheaper, and we are all loads richer. We have all the wonderful things we were promised just as in the video :D


and I don’t care if I get sent to Coventry
 

RV-AL

LIFE MEMBER
Jan 31, 2021
66
41
Twickenham, UK
Funster No
79,029
MH
Auto-Trail Delaware
Exp
Since 2021
Warning this is a long one. But hopefully will help those seeking to do the same as us.

After returning from our recent Spanish winter trip, we decided to apply for a long stay French Visa. As with most things motorhome related, we searched mhf first and found two helpful threads. The application process takes time and patience, especially if you intend ringing TLS. TLS are the company contracted by the French government, to receive, check and send off the visa applications to the French Consulate. I'm glad I read TLS's feedback after we booked our appointment. More on this later.

We applied for a 180 day visa (more than 3 months, less than 6), as it suited what we wanted to do. I won't go into everything needed in the application. This is available online and on previous threads here. Getting together everything that's needed is not too difficult, but can take some time. We had to wait for proof of pensions. All in all it took about a week of printing, organising the paperwork and getting photographs taken. This was done at our local Max Spielman, who provide a nice (not cheap) folder with visa approved, photographs. More on this also, later.

We completed the application form on line first and sent this off. Then and only then, can you book an appointment at one of the TLS centres. Manchester was nearest to us and we had no trouble getting an appointment in five days time. We could've got one on the next day if we wanted. It's worth bringing up the 'Premium Service' at this point. You can if you want to, pay £50 per person to be able to sit on comfy sofas in a separate room whilst waiting. Then a dedicated assistant will process your application free from the others. We chose not to do this and sat with the others.

Before you set off to the appointment, please, please make sure that all of your paperwork is in order. It is vital that you do this, as it's £30 per person, per appointment. If you've not got a complete set, plus copies, you can either pay £50 each to use the premium service, or arrange another appointment. We had a multi page plastic sleeve folder with everything, original and copies, in the right order.

The covering letter....

As I'd read that one funster had to explain what a motorhome/camping car is, I decided to copy and paste some photos of Elsie onto the letter. We also stated that even though we had our first night booked at an aire, we would be staying at official aires and campsites throughout our stay. We also stated we had booked a villa for a week, for family to visit. This was about 4 weeks into the 6 month duration. We also added the promise that we would not be working during the visa period. In addition we provided reasons why we wanted to spend six months in France.

The Plan.....

In addition to the covering letter, we provided a 'Plan' of our 'Project' (what the French call it). It detailed a list of towns and villages we would visit. Basically we would travel down the West coast to the South. Then zig zag across on our way back North. I used google maps to provide a predicted mileage, but provided no dates. The plan also included fuel cost, tolls and an average daily cost of sites, food and incidental expenses. This exceeded the daily rate recommended by the French. It was also backed up by our savings account statements.

The appointment.....

I just happened to read the reviews for TLS Manchester the night before our appointment. Hmmm! I got about three hours sleep that night. I've never read such a number of negative reviews, depicting stress, trauma, upset, anger, poor customer service etc. etc. etc. We were not filled with confidence on our journey that morning. We'd left two hours before our appointment time, to travel the 32 miles to the centre. After three crashes on the M62, we arrived with 5 minutes to spare! There were already 40 or so Chinese students and a Romanian chap (yes!) already in the queue. One of the reviews was from a chap who waited nearly three hours to be seen.

Thankfully we were called in at the right time for our appointment. The first assistant just checked our appointment confirmation form (don't forget to print this out) and looked at our photographs. We then entered the main seating area, passing the 'Premium' lounge on our way in. We waited for about 35 minutes before being seen. But at least we were sitting down. Eventually we were called to the window and a very nice French girl started with our application. What was funny that the premium lounge had one person in it and after he left, the girl then started helping those who hadn't paid £50.

Everything was going smoothly until we mentioned motorhome. I had to then write a letter stating that we would be travelling around in the motorhome. Even though it was in our covering letter. Then when it got to the V5 for Elsie, the assistant asked if it was in both of our names?? This was because Clare would obviously be travelling with me. She then asked for a copy of our marriage certificate, because Clare was not down as dual owner. Which we didn't have with us and was neither a requirement for the application. I then had to write another letter stating that Clare was my wife and would be travelling with me on the trip. We both had to write out another promise that we would not work on our trip. Even though this was in our initial covering letter. The assistant said we had to do this because our covering letter was too long!!! Even though it states very clearly on the French Embassy site, to fully explain why we wanted to go to France etc.

At this point I'll get back to the photos. Rather than do our own, we went to our local photo shop and had them taken in accordance with visa requirements. When the assistant saw my photos she just laughed and said they would not be accepted. I said we had them taken officially according to the visa requirements and showed the Max Spielman folder with a nice copy of the French flag on it. She then showed this to her supervisor and changed her mind. This got me suspicious as I'd read plenty of reviews from people having to have a photo taken again, at the TLS centre, on THEIR machine for £8 a pop. Mmmm! a money making exercise? Anyway thankfully they accepted ours. If they hadn't, I'd have taken them back to Max Speilman for a refund. Obviously with a note signed by the TLS saying they were not good enough.

Eventually, we finished going through the forms and were given a sealed pouch with our applications in. We handed this in to the Biometrics guy and joined the queue for fingerprints and photos to be taken.

And that was that!

We spent two hours inside going through the process and our applications are now at the French Embassy/consulate. All in all our experience was nowhere near as bad as the reviews made out. The assistant was very helpful and we got the impression that they wanted our application to be successful. Now we wait for the result......

And Finally, what was in our application folder??

1. Appointment confirmation. 2. Application form. 3. Registration receipt. 4. Passports. 5. ID photos. 6. Covering letter.
7. Plan. 8. Proof of Pensions. 9. Current Account statements. 10. Savings Account statements. 11. Proof of travel booking.
12. Proof of accomodation booked. 13. GHIC cards. 14. Health Insurance. 15. Driving licenses. 16. V5 for motorhome.
17. Motorhome insurance.
Hi Dave
all very helpful, my only question is that you provided GHIC cards as well as evidence of health insurance. I thought GHIC on its own was sufficient, or am I getting confused with travel insurance?
good luck with your application. we have our meeting booked for London in mid April,for a 14May departure, so will be interested to hear how quickly yours is processed.
Al

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daveclare
Jun 26, 2018
1,011
5,418
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MH
Florium Wincester
Exp
Europe & USA since April '21
Hi Dave
all very helpful, my only question is that you provided GHIC cards as well as evidence of health insurance. I thought GHIC on its own was sufficient, or am I getting confused with travel insurance?
good luck with your application. we have our meeting booked for London in mid April,for a 14May departure, so will be interested to hear how quickly yours is processed.
Al
We did the belt and braces approach to the application. Not sure if they forwarded the health insurance. But definitely the GHIC. Will update when we find out.
 
Jul 7, 2021
1,577
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MH
dont own one yet.
Wishing you the best of luck with your application, very pleased that I can just travel as long as I want without all that hassle, 👍

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Oct 25, 2015
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