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Acquiring French long-stay visitor visas (VLS-TS Visiteur) in 2021


In episode 2 of Adventures in Becoming an Expat, we validate our visas and complete the OFII medical exam process. Episode 3 sees us convert our visas into Cartes de Séjour.

We applied for two French Long-Stay visitor visas in September 2021 through the San Francisco Consulate, though the application appointment itself was done at the San Francisco VFS office. Our applications were accepted, FedEx'd to the Consul General in Washington, DC, processed, then returned to us.

  • 09/01 — submitted applications online
  • 09/13 — completed application appointment at VFS
  • 09/22 — received our passports with approved visas

The rest of this is meant to be a reference for folks going through the same (or a similar) process. Neither of us are lawyers nor are we immigration specialists, we're new to all of this and you should take this all with at least a grain of salt.

Documents & forms

As we'd seen in various blog posts, we assembled these documents in a big-ass folder, organized and tabbed. This was overkill; the application agent we worked with dumped it all out and organized it herself.

This particular list of documents began as the official list from the Receipt France-Visas — the 'instruction sheet' you get after starting the process online. I've included additional items (like copies of our marriage license) that the agent included with our applications; had we not brought them to the application appointment, it could've been awkward.

Here's the full list we used for each application (with annotations):


  • 🔲 Signed & dated application [from]
  • 🔲 Receipt France-Visas [once you've submitted online, you'll get this]


  • 🔲 Passport valid for visa + 3 months
  • 🔲 ID photo that complies with French / EU requirements (35mm × 45mm)

Purpose of travel/stay

  • 🔲 Letter from the employer or proof of business ownership / business license (if self employed). If retired, pension certificate.
    • Neither of us were able to provide either of these options, as neither are things US employers offer.
    • We instead each provided a signed letter in English and French stating that we were (or, in my case, would soon be) retired.
    • A copy of the letter we used is at the end of this post.
  • 🔲 Promise not to exercise any professional activity in France
    • We did research into this and found similar examples; we each included a letter in English and French.
    • A copy of the letter we used is at the end of this post.

Travel health insurance

  • 🔲 Travel health insurance certificate issued by the insurance company (covering any possible costs for medical repatriation, and emergency and/or hospital treatment, for a minimum amount of €30,000, valid in France for the whole stay.
    • We applied for insurance through Insubuy and found a plan that fit our budget and met the requirements.
    • As soon as we had purchased a plan, the provider allowed us to access and print the necessary certificates.


  • 🔲 Proof of accommodation in France: property title deed, tenancy agreement or any other supporting document. Or proof that accommodation will be provided by a person residing in France, or if not, a document explaining the accommodation arrangements planned for France.
    • We included a printout of our initial Airbnb stay. Airbnb has an option to "Get a PDF for visa purposes" when you're viewing trip details; use this if you're using an Airbnb for this purpose.


  • 🔲 Proof of enough resources to cover all expenses during trip (pension certificate or last 3 bank statements).
    • For each application, we printed out a complete set of hard copies of the last 3 months of bank statements (nothing else — no retirement fund or brokerage account paperwork).


  • 🔲 99€
    • This is paid at the appointment by credit card — bring a Visa or MasterCard with you. The VFS location we used did not accept cash.

Additional items, not listed as required

  • 🔲 Cover letter outlining reason for application and move, means of financial support, and intended activities (eg repeating that we will not work).
  • 🔲 Certified copy of our marriage license. This was photocopied and returned to us.

What's next?

We're both vaccinated, and as of this writing, that means we don't need to provide proof of negative covid tests to enter France. We did convert our US vaccination records for use in France as a pass sanitaire, France's take on the EU Covid health pass. Do this as soon as possible, as the office is overloaded. It took far longer than our visas — roughly a month.

At this point, there's nothing left for us to do for the process prior to our arrival in France. On arrival we must validate our visas within 3 months in order to receive a "Titre de Séjour" (residence permit) — more on that once we go through the steps.

In episode 2 of Adventures in Becoming an Expat, we validate our visas and complete the OFII medical exam process. Episode 3 sees us convert our visas into Cartes de Séjour.

Letter promising not to engage in professional activity


Je [soussignée|soussigné], [Your Name] m'engage conformément aux dispositions à l'article L313-6 du code de l'entrée et du séjour des étrangers et du droit d'asile, à n'exercer aucune activité professionnelle dans la mesure où une carte de séjour portant la mention visiteur me serait octroyée.

I, the undersigned, [Your Name], in accordance with the provisions of article L313-6 of the code for the entry and stay of foreigners and the right of asylum, declare that I will not work or pursue employment while in France in any paid capacity.

[Your Name]

[123 Main St]
[City, ST]
United States of America

Letter stating retirement status


Je [sousignée|soussigné], [Your Name], j'ai pris ma retraite et les relevés bancaires inclus montrent que j'ai les ressources nécessaires pour me soutenir financièrement tout en vivant en France.

I, the undersigned, [Your Name], have retired and the included bank statements show I have the resources to support myself financially while living in France.

[Your Name]

[123 Main St]
[City, ST]
United States of America

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