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

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daveclare
Jun 26, 2018
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Just one night, we booked the cheapest aire just in case we wanted to stay somewhere else. We used our camping car park card.
 
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daveclare
Jun 26, 2018
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Hi Dave,

We have our appointment next week 😬 and have found the information you have provided incredibly useful - there is so little information online about the visa. Just as we speak fine tuning our files of paper!!
Good luck with your application. I hope the appointment goes smoothly.

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May 5, 2022
1,842
8,375
Kidsgrove, North Staffordshire.
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Hymer B778 PL
Exp
Since 1992
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.
We are going next Tuesday for our visa interview but I am a bit concerned about the lack of seating in the spit and sawdust waiting area. Is there wheelchair access into the building and waiting room? If so I will take my electric trolley.

Cheers.
 
OP
OP
daveclare
Jun 26, 2018
1,028
5,484
North West
Funster No
54,605
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Florium Wincester
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Good luck. There's a ramp for access and plenty of seating in the cattle class area. It's not too bad really. We've been to worse.
 
Oct 12, 2009
11,282
24,834
SW London, Poland and all Europe
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8,876
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What about the five years French Tax Returns you needed to provide?

Just asking

Robert

Only just seen this.

My post was about Jim giving people a possible address in France.

How could/should anyone provide French tax returns when first applying for Residence?

If you are referring to me personally I have residence in Poland not France.
 
Oct 26, 2021
64
55
Petersfield, UK
Funster No
85,087
MH
Hymer B574 A class
Exp
A returner after a 10 year gap
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.
Well that’s pretty much what it’s like applying for a visa to visit Mozambique.
 

RV-AL

LIFE MEMBER
Jan 31, 2021
68
42
Twickenham, UK
Funster No
79,029
MH
Auto-Trail Delaware
Exp
Since 2021
Great news. The passports along with nice colourful Visas were delivered this morning. All in all it took nine days to get them and 14 days from filling in the application form online.
Great news. The passports along with nice colourful Visas were delivered this morning. All in all it took nine days to get them and 14 days from filling in the application form online.
Thanks for the info you provided. We found it really helpful. We had our appointment in London on Tuesday, it was busy but fairly efficient. I took two hours from arriving to leaving having done biometrics etc. we had put all the info about not working, cash, travel plans in one letter, but they wanted a separate piece of paper with each statement. They printed the pages for us to sign in front of them So we’re helping us to get through. Sillily I had not put my middle name on the TLS form but had on the visa application and it’s on my visa. The lady at the reception desk said we could get rejected for that but when we went for the interview form the lady, who I think was a supervisor, pointed out the error but said she would change it for me.

We are now waiting to hear our passports are ready for collection. I know you said it took 9 days from your appointment, was that working days or just days? we are nervously sitting here waiting for them as we have rented out our house and if the visa doesn’t get approved we will need to come up with an emerge Plan B.

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OP
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daveclare
Jun 26, 2018
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Fingers crossed everything will be fine. It was 9 days in total.
 
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daveclare
Jun 26, 2018
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We took copies for each person. But when they wanted than off us they asked if we wanted to link the applications.

However, with the inconsistency I'd take copies for each person, just in case.
 

RV-AL

LIFE MEMBER
Jan 31, 2021
68
42
Twickenham, UK
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Just got a message from TLS to say our passports have been returned to them. Only three days since our meeting. Very impressed assuming we have the visa. I will be there on Monday morning to find out.
Just picked up our passports with 6 month multi entry visa.

Dave thanks for your post which was a great help in not getting caught out with any of the detail and knowing what to expect.

Good luck everyone else applying.

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OP
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daveclare
Jun 26, 2018
1,028
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That's great news. We start using ours first week in May. Looking forward to it.
 
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daveclare
Jun 26, 2018
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Why don't you take it up outside this thread. Because people who are interested in applying for French visas shouldn't have to trawl through irrelevant posts.

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Oct 12, 2009
11,282
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Why don't you take it up outside this thread. Because people who are interested in applying for French visas shouldn't have to trawl through irrelevant posts.

Is taking up French Residency as a way of not having to repeatedly applying for 6-month visas irrelevant to this thread.

Some people do not realise that, because there is no official status of 'Residency' for a UK Citizen in UK, an application for residency in another country does not infringe dual-residency rules.

Therefore I was exploring ways of helping others with ways of staying more than 90/180 days without multiple visa applications.

Charente16 interloped with something about 5 years tax returns, which seemed irrelevant, but he has never explained, and could have put some people off the possibility of applying for residency.

Perhaps you now understand the relevance of my post to this topic.
 
May 5, 2022
1,842
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Kidsgrove, North Staffordshire.
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Since 1992
:LOL: no popcorn required.
Well we are back. Only 50% successful but progress. When we filled in the online forms and creating and deleting multiple account we phone the TLS helpline. I had succeeded to complete an application, including SWMBO, and getting a TLS interview. However getting one for SWMBO was proving problematic. After serval suggestions to solve the issue she had a word with her manager who said they would process her with me. Wrong.

Anyway I did mine. TLS process visa applications for at least 4 countries so it was a little more conveyor belt process than I had anticipated. The lass at the from desk asked for the appointment confirmation letter which was on my phone which was switched off nder strict instructions. From my passport number she found me and gave me a folder with documents and my passport. Moving into the main room (passed the upgraded seats in a glass room) there was 36 comfortable seats and 7 counters with assistants dealing with people. There are television screens with the application numbers scrolling through as they are done. Paperwork wise they only needed one copy of bank statements etc and that bit only took 20 minutes. They need a copy of your EHIC/GHIC card. He then put more paperwork into a red folder sealed with a zippy tie and progressed to Biometric. A few minutes later that was done. In total it was just over 1 and a half hours. They process a lot of people 80% of which are Chinese.

PS. SWMBO has an appointment on the 1 June.
 
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daveclare
Jun 26, 2018
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Like you say, that's half good news. Hope the other application goes through ok.
 
May 5, 2022
1,842
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Like you say, that's half good news. Hope the other application goes through ok.
Something worth knowing. At the Manchester office there are 2 photo booths which are 5 photos for £8 which is cheaper than Max Speilman.

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Feb 4, 2022
23
26
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86,690
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Winnebago
Sorry Dave I wondered if you could let me know how many nights confirmed bookings you supplied - was it just your first night or more? Thanks Richard
This was raised at our appointment, as we'd only done an itinerary (difficult to confirm campsites in Feb when hardly anything is open). However our visas came through very quickly without any request for further information. Hope this helps
 

Emmit

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Aug 14, 2009
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Leading on from the OP having to jump through hoops trying to explain why his partner was not on the Reg. Doc (V5) of the motorhome, it begs a question.

Does a 'privately' owned vehicle, in this case a motorhome, have to be Registered in one name or can it be, in the case of marriage Registered as being kept by two people.

I have to say I don't know.

Does anyone out there in Funsterland know.

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