Around France

French Expat Visa Update: Done!

When you have an appointment at the prefecture to renew your French expat visa, you’d better show up. Rain, shine … or flu! 

Today was the day to update my 12-month French expat visa — or carte de séjour. The event seems to come around much faster each year. I could swear I just picked up mine from last year. Oh well…

It’s not that I haven’t been planning for this day. I’ve been pulling the documents together, with the help of Jennifer at Renestance, for months.  Birth certificate, income statements, proof of address … all together, including translations of each. The only thing I put off until the last minute was getting a new photo. Don’t ask me why. Perhaps I wanted to wait until I had a better hair day. Mistake! I ended up with the flu. Having a photo made when you have the flu makes a bad hair day look absolutely glamorous!

French expat visa — prepping 

I arrived at the prefecture in NImes pretty much on time. Jennifer was waiting for me at the front door, as we had planned. After quick “bisous, bisous” we walked across the street to a cafe. I signed the application papers Jennifer had prepared. All was going well. I handed Jennifer the stack of papers she’d asked me to bring, along with the copies.

Flip, flip” she thumbed through them all.

Where are your bank statements?” she asked? “The ones that show your money coming into France?

Ooops …french expat visa




Thanks to Jennifer’s quick thinking, she captured the bank statements off my mobile LCL account and emailed them to the printer at the prefecture. Promise, I never would have thought of it … in or out of my flu induced stupor!

french expat visa

Here’s Jennifer searching through my bank statements on the tiny iPhone screen

French expat visa — the inquisition

If it all looks pretty tame, you should have seen the room full of people waiting to get to these “windows.”  We were called up to the desk at 11:30 for our 10:30 appointment.

french expat visa


French expat visa — expedited

If one good thing did come out of my having the flu, it was that it helped shorten the approval process. All it took was Jen mentioning to the lady behind the glass that I was sick.

Le grippe?” (the flu?) the lady asked in horror.

Oui!” said Jennifer.

In less than ten minutes my papers were scanned, checked and approved. After handing me the receipt for my new carte de séjour, the lady behind the glass announced she was running off to wash her hands.


Could I have made it through the day without the help of Renestance? No way! Jennifer’s familiarity with the process and the system was a Godsend. Not to mention I could never have survived without her French-speaking skills.

Thank you Renestance. ‘Til next year!


More about expat visas

Time to Renew the French Expat Visa

french expat visa





19 replies »

  1. Honestly, it seems like yesterday you went though the visa trauma. Bu now, you should be old hand…but I guess the flu will slow that down. Glad to hear you are feeling better. Remind me when you are heading to NC!

    • Yes, it seems renewing the carte de sèjour is the gift that keeps on giving! I’m in the states next week❤️

  2. Well Deb….I could only dream that one day in my future I would be going thru the ordeal of getting a ex Pat French Visa. How exciting. And then, I could call you for help as you would be a pro by then!
    Feel better!
    See you in September 🇫🇷

    • It’s definitely worth the trouble to be able to live in France ❤️🇫🇷 Can’t wait to meet you and play in September!

  3. Congratlations Deborah and hope you feel much better soon. Remind me svp when time allows, after the first one year visa from the U.S. did they call it a carte de sejour? Is it after 5 yrs you can access the health care system? I think one gas to be full time in France and oaying taxes in to qualify? Hope you are feeling much better for your trip.

    • You apply for the carte de séjour after your first year and you apply in France. Long stay visa you apply for in the US. The French have changed the requirement for carte vitale. I’m not sure about the details, but you can now apply for it after your first year–perhaps shorter than that. Since you haven’t paid taxes you now pay a percentage of your taxable income upfront to get into the system. I’m not an expert for sure, so best to talk with someone who knows, like Renestance.

    • After your first year on a long stay visa, you apply for a carte de séjour in France…and from then on each year. You no longer have to be here 5 years for carte vitale. You can apply for it after your first year and pay up front a percentage of your taxable income. I’m certainly not an expert so best ask someone like Renestance.

  4. We had the ultimate disaster when we didn’t notice the ‘original documents translated into French’ clause. We’ve lived in Europe for years, and never needed anything like that. And we were leaving the country the following day. Thanks to the Atlanta consulate and BB’s timely tip on Renestance, we were able to come back in and straighten everything out, but this is not the way to approach your first renewal! Do not make any plans to leave for at least a couple of weeks after your appointment. Especially if your US regional consulate is 6 hours away.

    • It never fails, does it? I was definitely not playing it safe, because I’m leaving for the States. Not enough time for error. Thank goodness for Renestance!

  5. I’m sorry to hear you’ve had the flu #grim. Hope you’re feeling better now. I had to smile when you described how quickly the visa paperwork was completed when the woman in the office realised you had la grippe – priceless. And rushing off to wash her hands! Only in France…. Glad it’s all sorted for you and congratulations on your latest project.

    • Thanks, June. I’m finally beginning to feel a bit better. Ugh! Yes, it was hilarious. She was really concerned about getting infected. Not sure she’s in the right job!

  6. Hi Deborah- Americans can currently stay in France for 3 month without a visa. Is there anything in between no visa and the 12 month Visa that you obtained? Say, for instance, one wanted to stay 6 months in France and 6 months in the US annually. Thanks, Ken

    • Ken, I’m pretty sure there’s a six month visa, but contact your nearest French consulate to find out for sure. When are you back here?

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