Second Citizenship
March 5, 2024
Reading Time: 8 min

France residence permit: all ways to become a French resident in 2024

France has been one of the most popular EU countries among expats seeking a better life for decades. As of 2024, France is second in Europe regarding the number of non-EU immigrants after Germany.

In this article, we explore the ways to live in France with a long-stay visa or a residence permit and the eligibility requirements for each.

Elena Ruda
Elena Ruda

Told about the differences between French residence permits

how to obtain a residence of france in 2024

France residence permit: all ways to become a French resident in 2024

Residence permit system in France

To stay in France for more than 90 days, non-EU and non-EEA citizens must have a long-stay visa or a residence permit. Different options are available, depending on the applicant’s country of origin, grounds for obtaining the status, and purpose of stay.

Visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour (VLS-TS) is a long-stay visa allowing one to live in France for 3—12 months. The visa is equivalent to a residence permit and allows residing in France without a separate residence permit. 

It also works as a Schengen visa: holders can freely travel to the Schengen Area states and stay outside France for up to 90 days out of 180.

Carte de Séjour is a French residence permit valid for 1 to 4 years. Foreigners need this document to stay in the country after their VLS-TS expires.

Carte de Résident de 10 ans is a 10-year residence card granted to applicants who fall under certain categories, such as relatives of French citizens or nationals of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Morocco, and some other countries.

Carte de Résident Longue Durée-UE is another residence permit granted for 10 years. Foreigners who have lived in France for 5 years but do not qualify for a Carte de Résident de 10 ans can apply.

Carte de Résident permanent is a permanent residency card valid for life. It is granted after the expiration of a Carte de Résident de 10 ans or a Carte de Résident Longue Durée-UE. The permanent residency card grants the right to live and work not only in France but in any other country of the European Union.

There is no option to become a French resident by investment like in other EU countries such as Portugal, Spain, or Malta.

How to obtain a residence permit in Europe?

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How to obtain a residence permit in Europe?

Getting a VLS-TS as the first step to relocation to France

All foreigners, except for nationals of the EU, EEA, Switzerland, Monaco, Andorra, the Vatican, and San Marino, must obtain a VLS-TS to move to France for more than 3 months.

Depending on the purpose of the stay, the VLS-TS has the following categories:

  • “Employee” — for foreigners hired by French companies for one year or more;

  • “Temporary Worker” — for foreign employees who need to work in France for 3—12 months, such as foreign specialists who will provide a service at a company’s site in France;

  • “Research Scientist” — for foreign specialists who will do research work or teach at a university;

  • “Student” — for students enrolled at French educational institutions;

  • “ICT” — for intra-company transferees and their families for stays of up to 12 months;

  • “Talent Passport” — for foreigners who can improve the economy of France: investors and entrepreneurs, highly skilled workers, skilled young graduate employees, performing artists, and specialists recognised as experts in their field;

  • “Visa Visiteur” — for financially independent foreigners and digital nomads with a source of income outside France.

The long-stay French visa is obtained at an embassy or consulate of France in the country of the applicant’s residency. A visa sticker is stamped on the holder’s passport when they cross the border of France.

A VLS-TS holder must validate the visa within 3 months of moving to France. To do this, they need to register with the French Immigration and Citizenship Office (OFII) by submitting an online application. Failure to do so invalidates the visa.

OFII reviews visa validation applications for up to 3 months. When an application is processed, a foreigner is invited to a medical examination.

Foreigners must also sign a Republican Integration contract when residing in France with the VLS-TS visa. Thus, they agree to follow the principles and values of the Republic and French society in return for access to individual rights, civics training classes, and language courses.

After the first year of living in France, foreigners wishing to stay for longer must apply for a residence permit two months before the VLS-TS expires.

How to move to France as a financially independent person

A quick path to living in France may be a Visa Visiteur for financially independent foreigners.

To qualify, an applicant must meet the following conditions:

  • be over 18 years old;

  • buy or rent housing in France;

  • prove passive or remote income of €1,800 per month or €21,600 per year;

  • have a bank deposit of at least €30,000;

  • purchase medical insurance for the whole period of stay in France.

Having a monthly income of €3,500 is recommended to increase one’s chances of approval.

A spouse and children can obtain visas together with the main applicant. Before the application is submitted, children should be enrolled in a French school.

Applications are processed within 2—3 weeks, and the visa is usually granted for 1 year. When the visa expires, its holders can apply for a residence permit.

Visa Visiteur holders are entitled to a social security number and can seek treatment in French clinics. However, they are not allowed to work or do business in France.

After 5 years of living in France, a Visa Visiteur holder can apply for French citizenship or a resident card valid for 10 years.

How to get a Carte de Séjour in France

A Carte de Séjour is a French residence permit granted for one or several years.

A temporary residence permit is called a Carte de Séjour temporaire and is valid for 1 year. This permit is usually obtained by foreigners who are not entitled to a VLS-TS but are required to get a residence permit upon arrival.

A multi-year residence permit is called a Carte de Séjour pluriannuelle. One can only obtain it after the expiration of the initial VLS-TS or a temporary residence permit, provided the foreigner continues to fulfil the conditions of their stay.

The validity of a multi-year residence permit ranges from 2 to 4 years. When it expires, its holder can apply for one of the long-term residence cards.

Carte de Résident de 10 ans

A Carte de Résident de 10 ans is granted for 10 years and is only available for certain categories of foreigners. Applicants can obtain this type of permit upon being admitted to France for the first time or after at least 3 years of residing in the country.

Upon the first entry to France, a Carte de Résident de 10 ans can be granted to the following categories of foreign nationals:

  • spouses of French citizens if the marriage lasts for at least 3 years or at least 1 year if the applicant is a Tunisian;

  • children under 21 or dependent children of any age of a French citizen;

  • dependent parents of a French citizen or a spouse;

  • non-EU citizens entitled to acquire French citizenship on the grounds of having been born in France;

  • refugees, stateless persons and their family members;

  • non-EU citizens with a workplace accident or occupational illness pension and their families;

  • non-EU citizens who want to retire to France;

  • non-EU veterans and legionnaires.

When obtaining a Carte de Résident de 10 ans under these categories, applicants sign a Republican Integration contract to prove their intention to integrate into French society.

Obtaining a Carte de Résident de 10 ans after 3 years of residing in France is allowed to the following categories of applicants:

  • citizens of countries France has a bilateral agreement with, such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia;

  • parents or step-parents of a child born in France;

  • non-EU citizens who enter France for family reunification with a French resident.

Applicants must prove that they have been uninterruptedly residing in France for at least 3 years. In addition, they should have a stable income and sign a Republican Integration contract.

Carte de Résident Longue Durée-UE

Foreign nationals who are not entitled to a Carte de Résident de 10 ans can obtain an EU long-term resident card called a Carte de Résident Longue Durée-UE.

A Carte de Résident Longue Durée-UE is only available to foreigners who have been French residents for at least 5 years and hold a temporary residence permit for one of the following categories: Talent Passport for qualified employees, Investors, Company directors, or Business Creators. Residence permits for students, refugees, seasonal workers, and the retired do not qualify.

To get an EU long-term resident card in France, applicants must prove:

  • an uninterrupted residence in France for at least 5 years with a qualifying residence permit;

  • health insurance coverage in France;

  • a sufficient income of at least the minimum wage level in France, which is €21,203 per year in 2024;

  • knowledge of the French language at an A2 level or above and a signed Republican Integration contract.

Obtaining the Carte de Résident permanent

A Carte de Résident permanent is a French permanent residence card. Its holders have almost the same rights as the country’s citizens, except for the right to vote and be elected.

The rights of French permanent residents include staying in France without restrictions, carrying out a professional or commercial activity, purchasing property with a low-rate mortgage, and getting a simplified right of residence in any country of the EU.

Only foreigners with an expired French resident card can obtain permanent residency. It can be granted automatically to applicants who have had 2 resident cards in a row or applicants aged 60 or more.

To obtain a Carte de Résident permanent, an eligible foreigner should submit an application to the prefecture 2 months before their resident card expires.

buy property in France and get residency 2024

Najac village in the south of France

How a foreigner can become a French resident

In general, foreign citizens become eligible for a temporary residence permit 1 year after moving to France. After 5 years of living in France, they become eligible to apply for a long-term EU resident card or citizenship.

1

Up to 2 months

Obtaining a VLS-TS

To be allowed to move to France, a foreigner needs a long-term visa called VLS-TS, which they can get at the Embassy or the Consulate of France in the country of one’s residence.

The VLS-TS must be validated at the French Immigration and Citizenship Office within 3 months of moving to France.

2

1 year later

Obtaining a Carte de Séjour

When a VLS-TS expires, a foreigner must apply for a Carte de Séjour, valid for up to 4 years. A foreigner must prove meeting the purpose of the stay declared in their VLS-TS. It can be changed by providing corresponding documents.

Residence permit applications are submitted at the prefecture or online and processed for up to 2 months.

3

2 or 4 years later

Obtaining a Carte de Résident de 10 ans or a Carte de Résident Longue Durée-UE

Foreigners qualifying for a Carte de Résident de 10 ans can obtain the status after 3 years of living in France.

Other applicants must wait 5 years to become eligible for a new resident card. They acquire the status of a long-term EU resident.

4

10 years later

Getting a Carte de Résident permanent

After the expiration of a Carte de Résident de 10 ans or a Carte de Résident Longue Durée-UE, a foreigner can become a French permanent resident, a status granted for life.

5

Every 10 years

Renewal of the Carte de Résident permanent

Permanent residents do not need to prove meeting any conditions to renew their Carte de Résident permanent.

7 benefits of residency in France

1. High standards of living. The French economy is the second-largest in the EU after Germany. The country’s GDP per capita is above the EU average, while the price level index is lower than in Luxembourg, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, and Germany.

2. Affordable high-quality medicine. According to the Commonwealth Fund, France’s healthcare system is ranked 8th worldwide. Three months after moving to France, a foreigner can get access to the French medical system and enjoy reimbursements for medical expenses.

3. Access to the welfare system. Upon moving to France, foreigners get a social security card and become entitled to different allowances. The coverage includes health, maternity, paternity, disability and death insurance, government pension, family allowances, and unemployment benefits.

4. Opportunity to work and do business in the EU. French residents are allowed to work in France except for holders of a student residence permit or a Visa Visiteur. Long-term EU and French permanent residents also get the right to work, do business, and perform other activities in any other EU country.

5. Access to the French banking system. French residents are allowed to get services in local banks and open accounts. They also provide a smaller pack of documents to open an account than non-residents.

6. Help with the integration in local life. To help foreigners integrate into society, the government provides French language courses. Additionally, immigrants must take a 4-day civic training on the principles and values of the country and such aspects as healthcare, education, labour market, and parents and early childhood support services.

7. Opportunity to obtain a second passport in 5 years. Foreign nationals can apply for citizenship after 5 years of living in the country. France allows dual citizenship, so a foreigner will not have to relinquish their first passport if their home country allows this.

Getting French citizenship after residency status

After 5 five years of living in the country with a resident status, foreigners can apply for French citizenship by naturalisation.

To qualify, applicants must also meet the following conditions:

  • be over 18 years old;

  • have no issues with the law;

  • have a stable source of income in France;

  • live, work, and pay taxes in France for 5 years;

  • speak French at the B1 level and prove it at a government-approved language centre or with a certificate.

France allows dual citizenship, so applicants can enjoy the benefits of having both passports.

Comparison of citizenship and residency by investment programs

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Comparison of citizenship and residency by investment programs

Key takeaways on getting a France residence permit

  1. France offers various types of residence permits, depending on the category and the purpose of the stay.

  2. The first permit, VLS-TS, is a long-term visa equivalent to a residence permit. It is granted for up to 1 year and works as a Schengen visa, allowing its holders to travel across the 27 countries of the Schengen Area.

  3. When the VLS-TS expires, foreigners have to obtain a Carte de Séjour, valid from 1 to 4 years, to continue their stay.

  4. After 5 years of living in France, one can apply for a Carte de Résident valid for 10 years or obtain French citizenship.

  5. To become eligible for French permanent residency, a foreigner must have an expired Carte de Résident. The status of a permanent resident is granted for life.

  6. Financially independent foreigners can move to France with a Visa Visiteur. To qualify, they need to have housing in France, prove passive or remote income of €1,800 per month, or €21,600 per year, have a deposit of €30,000, and purchase medical insurance.

  7. France doesn’t grant residence permits to investors. However, investments lead to EU residency in Portugal, Malta, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, and Cyprus.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for citizenship and residence by investment programs in the EU, the Caribbean, Asia, and the Middle East. Take advantage of our global 15-year expertise — schedule a meeting with our investment programs experts.

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Frequently asked questions

  • How to get a French residence permit?

    The first step to getting a French residence permit is to obtain a long-term visa called VLS-TS equivalent to a residence permit.

    To obtain a VLS-TS, a foreigner should submit an application at a French Embassy or Consulate in the country of their residency. Within 3 months of moving to France, one must validate their visa at the French Immigration and Citizenship Office.

    The VLS-TS is valid for 1 year and can be followed by a Carte de Séjour, granted for 1 to 4 years.

  • Is it hard to get residency in France?

    To become a French resident, a person should first obtain a long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit for 1 year. Later, the visa can be followed by a residence permit called a Carte de Séjour.

    To get the visa and the status of a resident, a foreigner must qualify under one of the following categories:

    • employee;

    • temporary worker;

    • research scientist;

    • student;

    • intra-company transferee;

    • an individual who can contribute to the economy of France, for example, an entrepreneur, highly skilled worker, skilled young graduate employee, etc.

    If none of the above applies, another option is available — a Visa Visiteur for financially independent foreigners.

    To obtain a Visa Visiteur, an applicant needs to have housing in France, prove passive or remote income of €1,800 per month, or €21,600 per year, have a deposit of €30,000, and purchase medical insurance.

  • Can I live in France permanently?

    To move to France permanently, you should first obtain a residence permit or a long-term visa equivalent to a residence permit.

    After 5 years of living in France with a residence permit, you will become eligible for a Resident Card granted for 10 years. When the Resident Card expires, you can become a permanent French resident.

  • Can I move to France without a job?

    Yes, one of the options to move to France without a job is to obtain a Visa Visiteur.

    To qualify, you must meet the following conditions:

    • be over 18 years old;

    • buy or rent housing in France;

    • prove passive or remote income of €1,800 per month, or €21,600 per year;

    • have a deposit of €30,000;

    • purchase medical insurance for the whole period of stay in France.

    As a Visa Visiteur holder, you will have the right to get a social security number and to seek treatment in French clinics. However, you will not be allowed to get employed or do business in France.

  • How long can you live in France without residency?

    Non-EU citizens are allowed to stay in France for up to 3 months without obtaining residency. For a longer stay, one should get a VLS-TS — a long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit granted for a year.

    If a foreigner wants to stay in France after the VLS-TS expiration, they need to apply for a residence permit called a Carte de Séjour.