Long Stay French Visa - Our application and interview/appointment. (2 Viewers)

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May 25, 2021
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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.
Isn't Brexit a beautiful thing 🤬😡
 
Jun 10, 2010
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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
It really depends how you see the future of your country. If you think that your holiday/retirement plans trump democracy then maybe you should reconsider your options. You still have plenty of them, as long as you have a reasonable history, you can apply to live in plenty of other countries both inside and outside the EU.

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Mar 6, 2008
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Hello nicholsong. We have been visiting Poland for 17 years. We have friends who live in Jerzmanowice who we stay with every year. My wife and I are getting older and our friend (a native Pole) has said why don't you come and live here? I haven't really made any effort to follow this up but a resident as opposed to being a citizen might fit the bill. Do you have any idea how we could go about this? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
 
Jan 12, 2020
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Hi,

We will definitely be applying for a long stay visa next year. I know you used TLS but do you think they are an essential part of the process and could the application be submitted without them?
 
Oct 12, 2009
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Hello nicholsong. We have been visiting Poland for 17 years. We have friends who live in Jerzmanowice who we stay with every year. My wife and I are getting older and our friend (a native Pole) has said why don't you come and live here? I haven't really made any effort to follow this up but a resident as opposed to being a citizen might fit the bill. Do you have any idea how we could go about this? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Peter I will reply by PM(conversation) to avoid thread drift on French visa thread.

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May 7, 2011
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Hi daveclare a friend of mine 6 month French visa runs out this month . He used it so he could spend the winter in his home in France.
He now says he is going to apply for a 5 year visa, Is there such a thing,and could you have gone for a longer visa.
 
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daveclare
Jun 26, 2018
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Hi,

We will definitely be applying for a long stay visa next year. I know you used TLS but do you think they are an essential part of the process and could the application be submitted without them?
Sadly no. They have a contact to provide the service for France, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland.
 
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daveclare
Jun 26, 2018
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Hi daveclare a friend of mine 6 month French visa runs out this month . He used it so he could spend the winter in his home in France.
He now says he is going to apply for a 5 year visa, Is there such a thing,and could you have gone for a longer visa.
I don't know, you'd have to check with the French embassy. We could've gone for a longer visa up to a year. But that creates problems at home. Info on that on the UK govt website.
 
Apr 17, 2016
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This thread was started to try to help people who are considering a visa application. Not a debate about what you can't change. As with a lot of threads the cause gets lost.

Never mind. ;)
Unfortunately you always get a few who just can’t accept it and get on with their lives☹️☹️
Sad really!!
 

TheBig1

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Nov 27, 2011
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nicholsong Geoff some friends of mine have just set off on a year long trip with 6 months in EU, as his wife/partner is an EU Citizen with suitable passport, he has been informed that so long as they are together, the 90/180 days does not apply. It is surely the same with you and Basia

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Delboyarapaho

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Dec 17, 2013
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Very interesting thanks. Would you happen to know if you can apply for a 6 month visa to stay in Spain?
 
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daveclare
Jun 26, 2018
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Yes you can but I believe it's more expensive. Best check with the Spanish embassy site.
 
Oct 12, 2009
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nicholsong Geoff some friends of mine have just set off on a year long trip with 6 months in EU, as his wife/partner is an EU Citizen with suitable passport, he has been informed that so long as they are together, the 90/180 days does not apply. It is surely the same with you and Basia

Does not help us, because we are neither married nor in a Civil Partnership.
 
Oct 25, 2015
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Once the visa is issued does anybody know what actually happens at passport control on the way out? After Brexit we have been getting a 90 day stamp, I assume now that doesn’t happen and your 180 day ‘stay’ starts on the day you have told them you’re going to enter France. Also I assume you can come back to UK and then back to France at any time and the 180 day clock is still running whilst in the UK.
 

Minxy

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Also I assume you can come back to UK and then back to France at any time and the 180 day clock is still running whilst in the UK.
No, I believe it's a one entry & exit visa, ie one entry to France from the UK and one return to the UK, then it's invalid, can't be used for multiple jaunts even if you still have some days left.

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Apr 14, 2022
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It was for consumption of EU Residents, of which there are many on this forum.
I think you have missed an important point here. An EU Citizen has the right of residence in any EU country under the 'freedom of movement' legislation. However they are only permitted to stay in another EU country for 90 days before they have to register and change their residency. Of course there is practically no way of checking this but thats what the law says. The reality within Europe is that, since there are no borders nobody knows or cares. The only point that any checking is done is at the Schengen borders.
 
Jan 16, 2017
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The 90 day rule doesn't apply to a eu citizens , Or there spouse/children if traveling with them At the same time
Trevor just need to get my head around this and ensure that I understand . If i have a Irish Passport which i do have and my wife has a British Passport which she does have as long as she is travelling with me she can exceed the 90 day rule.
 
May 13, 2015
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DavidCh,
We are permanent residents in Cyprus which is not Schengen .
I wonder if the freedom of movement legislation means that we have the same rights as someone living in a Schengen country. We have our UKW3 , European Driving Licence etc .
Thank you
Pam
 

Minxy

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Trevor just need to get my head around this and ensure that I understand . If i have a Irish Passport which i do have and my wife has a British Passport which she does have as long as she is travelling with me she can exceed the 90 day rule.
Yup, just don't let the border mob stamp her passport.
 
Apr 14, 2022
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That is my understanding. When you enter the Schengen area you produce your UK passport and your Cyprus UK withdrawal agreement residency card. They will (should) not stamp your passport as you are an EU resident. Technically this means you have 90 days in other EU countries (not 90 across the whole area) but since there is no record no one cares. This is what happens to us when we go into and out of Gibraltar (which I appreciate is outside of the EU but demonstrates the fact that your passport is NOT stamped).

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May 13, 2015
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That is my understanding. When you enter the Schengen area you produce your UK passport and your Cyprus UK withdrawal agreement residency card. They will (should) not stamp your passport as you are an EU resident. Technically this means you have 90 days in other EU countries (not 90 across the whole area) but since there is no record no one cares. This is what happens to us when we go into and out of Gibraltar (which I appreciate is outside of the EU but demonstrates the fact that your passport is NOT stamped).
Thank you very much, that is really helpful.
 

maz

Jan 26, 2011
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This sounds like a good way to approach it. Hand over the residence card first, then if they still want to see the passport you can hand it over afterwards emphasising not to stamp it. We are now Slovenian residents but have not had the excitement of showing our residence cards yet .......
 

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