Moving to France: Long Stay Visa for South Africans First Steps

Hi All

First post here, so go easy.

Unlike you Brits with your Brexit issues etc us Saffas have other reasons for wanting to Escape to France. The first point I want to make is that it certainly is true that we all have a unique path that we will walk to arrive in France. However like some our first step is obtaining a One Year Long Stay Visa.

I would like some clarity on a Long Stay Visa. Getting a renewable long-stay visa vs. a 12-month long-stay visa that cannot be extended. I have read people getting a visa that states “exempt” related to the requirement of getting a resident permit from the OFII once in France, in other words it’s clear from the beginning that the visa won’t be renewed once the original 12-month validity period passes. I want to make sure that we apply for and are successful in getting a long stay 1 year visa that can be renewed. The aim is to renew every year for 5 years, then apply for a permanent resident visa, which is good for 10 years as I understand.

One more question regarding work and a One Year Long Stay Visa. I totally understand that YOU can’t work, however how does this relate to online work such a blogging, youtube channels etc. I have read that it is totally legal to do this sort of work as you aren’t taking work away from any French citizen, and I have also read that this is illegal and that a work permit would be needed.

Any advice on the above matters would be much appreciated.
From a sunny 25deg in Cape Town in the middle of winter.

If you are physically in France while you do these activities then you are working in France and must pay taxes, and if the terms of your visa are that you can’t work then you can’t do these activities either. If you do go ahead and get caught you will be sent home and it will serve you right.

If you are already earning via this route and intend to continue the activity while in France is it any easier to get work permit?

Hi Paul

I am not earning via this route it was more just a general question as it is something that I am considering. I am however still unsure as I have seen two cases of something similar, online work and receiving income payments in the US and not France, where both people received long stay visas without permission to work. The other interesting thing is that both individuals showed the source of their income and that they would continue doing so while in France. And both were granted long stay visas. They have indicated to me that the only concern French authorities would have are you taking away work from a French citizen. I will investigate further.
Many Thanks

Thanks for the warm welcome and information.


Hi Dion,

My first thought is a caveat: is there a different long-term visa, issued from the French embassy in South Africa where you are a citizen, that indicates a more specific non-working status on the visa? If so, then my experiences below with the long-term visa would not be useful to you.

My experience in moving to France, has been as a US citizen, inactif (non-working), attempting to eventually obtain resident status. I had to start off with a long-term visitor status, which is to say as someone who was at the ‘tourist’ or ‘just visiting’ level. Perhaps for anyone who has citizenship in a non-EU country this is the first step. I obtained a long-term (1 year) visa from the French embassy in the US, then to follow up in due course I obtained the long-term titre de sejour as soon as I arrived in France, according to the directions and requirements described by the prefecture in France to which I moved.

My current status is that I have successfully obtained the ‘temporary’ titre de sejour (or carte de sejour, I think the phrase is pretty much interchangeable), and with any luck when I apply for renewal later this year I will be approved for the one-year or perhaps 3 year resident status. I was able to show a level of income that sustained me for the year I’ve been approved to stay and also I have a permanent (year-round) address in France.

The key is to show capability to support oneself, and to show a place you’re residing in France either rented or purchased. For me, finding a place to rent was a Catch-22 for a while.

I was told (but haven’t followed this up as yet) that as a long-term resident, I could apply to be allowed to work. When I do this, it will (hopefully) be as an auto-entrepreneur status. I think that this is a moving target, as they say, these days since the rules change. With any new business venture, one must of course have an initial source of funding to support the startup costs. It does all come down to having a small but significant amount of money in savings, or existing job.

So from my experience, any long-term visa would probably begin as a ‘visitor’ status, regardless of whether you planned to work. And from the French point of view, from the start, one needs to show that one will not become a burden on the French system, so you must show that you have the means to support yourself at least for the duration of your stay. Of course, that is my experience, and my reason for coming to France was based on desire for a new adventure in life as opposed to a dire need to change my place of residence.

I hope this is helpful and I hope your French embassy in South Africa can provide you with at least the answers to the first steps toward your goal? I found that I never could see the ‘full picture’, but as I stepped one step forward closer to resident status, more answers were revealed. It’s not the most comfortable feeling, to go forward in this manner.

Wishing you all success.


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What a lovely detailed, informed and personal response. It is really much appreciated. From my research on various sites your response re-enforces the information and process that we are planning to follow. We are in the lucky position to be able to prove financial sustainability, thanks to the raging US stock market of the pass five years. :slight_smile:

Where in France are you located? We are looking to settle in the Herault area down South.
Thanks again.

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Hi Dion,

We are located in the southwest. I am glad to hear my response was perhaps of some use! It is a bit bewildering how luck sometimes comes into play, with the outcomes in this process. I have heard that certain prefectures can be more helpful or at least more friendly than others, and so the one in Angouleme where I’ve been applying, has been helpful. Then again, I’ve had some lucky near-misses that turned out okay with a bit of perseverance.



I was hoping that Véro would chip in with some information - she’s better placed than almost all of us to understand the ins and outs of the French system.

As you say, interesting - certainly at odds with my understanding. Perhaps something in their particular situation is pertinent.

Hi - thank you, I wish! I think that a non EU person needs to be very clear upfront about what their plans for working etc are as that will govern the nature of their visa. I would advise full and frank discussion with the people in the Embassy or Consulate in S.A.