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MOVING TO FRANCE

How much money do you need to get a visa for France?

If you're intending to either move to France or come for a long stay and you're not a citizen of the EU you will need a visa. As well as the cost of the visa itself, many of them come with income requirements - here's a quick look at how much money you will need.

How much money do you need to get a visa for France?
Photo: AFP

Citizens of the EU can move to France with a minimum of paperwork thanks to European Freedom of Movement, but for non-Europeans – known as Third Country Nationals – a visa is usually required if you're coming for more than a short break (usually 90 days or less, although citizens of some countries require a visa for a trip of any length).

You can find more information on types of visa available and how to apply for one HERE.

There is usually a fee to process the visa itself, and you may also need to pay to get supporting documents translated, but on top of that some types of visa require you to prove you have a certain amount of money before they will be granted.

 

 

The basic principle is that you need to prove that you will be able to support yourself during your stay, and will not become a burden on the French state. All visa applications are decided on an individual basis and other circumstances – such as owning a mortgage-free home – can be taken into account, but here are the broad guidelines around income.

There are several different types of visa – including students visas and spouse visas if your have a French partner – but here is a look at the most common ones.

Retired or otherwise economically inactive

If you don't intend to work in France, for example if you are retired or you just want to take a year off work, then you need to prove that you can support yourself.

The guideline figure for people to be economically self sufficient is based on the French minimum wage (known as the SMIC). This is regularly reviewed but at present stands at €1,219 net per month.

If you receive a pension or other income such as dividends or income from a property that you rent out, it will need to be equal or more than this amount.

If you do not have an income but your partner or spouse does then this can be taken into consideration, but your partner then needs to demonstrate that they have enough for two – ie €2,438 per month.

If you do not have a pension but intend to live off savings then you need to demonstrate that you have enough in your bank account to cover €1,219 for every month of your visa. So if you have a one-year visa that would be €14,628. You will be asked to provide your last three bank statements. 

As well as proving your income you will also need to demonstrate that you have full health insurance for the duration of your visa time.

You will also need to give an undertaking that you will not exercise any professional activity in France.

Self-employed

If you intend to move to France and either start your own business or work as a freelancer or contractor you will need to demonstrate the viability of your business or sufficient resources.

If you intend to start a business you will need to be able to demonstrate the economic viability of your project.

If you intend to work as a freelancer/contractor you will need to prove that you have sufficient financial resources to the tune of €1,219 a month.

If you intend to freelance in a profession that is one of regulated professions in France you may also need to provide proof of appropriate qualifications – you can find a list of regulated professions here.

Employee

If you want to come to France as an employee you need a confirmed job offer in place before you start the paperwork.

The company or person that is hiring you needs to fill in extra paperwork to justify hiring non-EU nationals and you then need to apply for an employee visa – the length of which will be determined by whether you have a permanent or temporary contract.

The employee visa doesn't require you to submit any financial proof, but you will have to take a French language test.

Next steps

Different visas have different durations, but if you intent to stay long-term then you will need to apply for a residency card – the carte de séjour. Some visa types also require you to validate them within three months of arriving in the country.

The carte de séjour for some groups – including the retired and non-working ones – carries it own income requirements where again you will need to prove that you can support yourself and will not become a burden on the French state.

Brexit

The rules outlined above are those that already apply to Third Country Nationals such as Americans, Australians, Canadians, Indians or any other non-EU citizens.

Once the Brexit transition period ends on December 31st 2020, British people will become Third Country Nationals.

It is still possible that a deal could be made between the UK and the EU, or a bilateral deal between the UK and France, giving British people more advantageous terms to move to France, but if no deal is done then the default situation for Brits will be as outlined here. For more on how Brexit will affect residency, healthcare, travel and pets, head to our Preparing for Brexit section.

For full details, head to the French government's visa website here where the 'visa wizard' section here allows you to input your details and find out what kind of visa you need, and what type of supporting documents and evidence you will have to provide. 

 

Member comments

  1. Are you suggesting the Carte de séjour is going to require a monthly income of 1219 euros, this is double previous?

  2. I have a similar query. The above article talks about the qualifications for a visa, as having an income of 1219 euros (each?), yet the article regarding permanent residency below quotes 564.78 euros(even combined). Am I missing something?

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For members

PROPERTY

Garant: How the French guarantor system works for property rental

If you're looking to rent an apartment in a larger city in France, you're likely to see announcements that require a 'garant'. Here is what you need to know about finding a guarantor in France.

Garant: How the French guarantor system works for property rental

Renting in large cities in France – particularly in Paris – is a known challenge for foreigners, especially new arrivals. In the countryside, it’s a bit easier, with less competition properties, but in the big cities compiling your dossier and landing the right place can be a challenge.

One of the biggest surprises for many people is that most landlords ask for a guarantor (garant) in order to sign a lease for an apartment. It is not a legal requirement, but in competitive real estate markets, it certainly feels like one.

Though asking for a garant might feel a bit juvenile, it is quite common, and applies to a lot more people than you might realise. Here is what you need to know:

Who typically needs a guarantor?

The most common group to need guarantors are students. However, if you are a foreigner who is not employed with a CDI (indefinite contract) and if you do not make over three times your monthly rent, you will likely need a guarantor as well.

If you don’t collect your income in France (or if you don’t have an income) you will need a guarantor.

You will also likely need one if you are still in the probationary period of your CDI, or if you cannot show three months worth of pay stubs from your job yet (even if you pay meets the three times a month requirement). If you do have a CDI, you could ask your employer to sign you an attestation d’employeur which verifies your monthly income. 

If your income is not steady or consistent (perhaps you are a freelancer). Typically, if you use an agency during the leasing process, they will require a guarantor, especially if any of these conditions apply to you. 

It is worth noting that showing bank statements typically do not suffice – landlords are looking for proof of ongoing income, not savings.

Who can count as a guarantor?

The guarantor should be a third party, such as a parent or close relative who agrees to pay your rent if you fail to pay.

This person must fulfil all the requirements outlined above (ie earning more than three times your rent with an indefinite contract).

The other tricky part is that this person must work and live in France, and usually it’s best that they are French themselves.

However, this can pose a problem for foreigners who might not know anyone that fits that description, so thankfully there are some other options fill this requirement, like taking out a caution bancaire or using an online agency. We explained the ins-and-outs of these bellow.

What does my guarantor need to show?

The guarantor needs to put together a dossier of documents including;

  • Proof of identification (a passport or French ID card)
  • Proof of residence that is less than three months old (eg utility bills).
  • Most recent tax returns
  • Employment contract and typically three months worth of payslips
  • If they earn money via real estate, they must also provide documentation for this
  • If the person in question is retired, they must provide proof of pension (again, this must exceed your monthly rent threefold). 

So, what if I don’t have a French person who can be my guarantor? There are a few options for you:

Use an online service

There are two main online services that can act as guarantors for foreigners in France.

The first is Visale, which is accessible primarily to foreign students.

This is a programme offered via the French state through “Action Logement” and it covers up to three years of unpaid rent. You must be between 18 and 30 years old to apply, and you must hold a long-stay visa (VLS-TS) – either a student visa or a ‘talent’ one.

For students who are already citizens of a European Union country, then simply presenting a student card and a valid passport will be sufficient. It can be applied to private housing and student residences, but it is ultimately up to the landlord as to whether they will accept a tenant who uses Visale as their guarantor. The main benefit to Visale is that it is free for the user.

Visale does come with some restrictions, however. Your rent (including charges) cannot exceed €1,500 in Paris, and €1,300 in the rest of the country. In addition, the lease must be for a primary residence, and your rent should not exceed 50 percent of your total income.

Another option is GarantMe, a paid online website that can also serve as an official guarantor.

Landlords might actually prefer this service over a physical guarantor who might refuse to pay or for whatever reason not have the funds to do so. The benefit to GarantMe is that they accept a wider range of tenants for their service, but the downside is that there is a fee. The minimum payment (per year) is €150, but the fee is normally 3.5 percent of the annual rent (including charges) and it renews automatically.

The nice thing about GarantMe, is that in order to apply for the service, you basically need to create a full dossier that will be identical to what you’ll need for your apartment search anyways.

Take out a Caution Bancaire

Basically, a caution bancaire is a bank guarantee, and typically its a bit more of a last resort option because it is quite restrictive for the tenant. It involves blocking off a large sum of money to be used to pay rent if you fail to do so.

Depending on the landlord (and the bank), they might ask you to block between six months worth of rent to sometimes up to two years. This would be used as guarantee during the duration of your lease, but it takes a bit of administrative coordination and obviously requires a large sum of liquid funds.

Sometimes activating a bank guarantee can take a few weeks, and for foreigners, of course, this would require already having a French bank account. There can also be fees, depending on the bank, for using a caution bancaire, and simply closing of caution bancaire account in itself can involve fees.

The other downside to this is that not all landlords will accept it, which is why this option might be best served as a last resort.

Attempt to find an apartment that does not require a garant

This is quite difficult in Paris (and other large cities around France). It is possible sometimes if you stick to foreigner-oriented sites like NY Habitat or Paris Attitude. Another possible loophole could be to see if your insurance plan offers coverage of unpaid rent. This is quite uncommon, but could be a possible option. If you rent specifically particulier-à-particulier (meaning you do not use an agency at all) you might be able to negotiate with the landlord, or if you have a sub-lease you might not need to show proof of a guarantor.

Ultimately, however, in most cases when renting in France’s large cities, you’ll likely need a guarantor.

What should I be aware of when it comes to guarantor websites?

As mentioned previously, Visale is only for people in the 18-30 age group, so unfortunately it does not apply to everyone. It is also intended for lower income people or students, so if you are a high earner you might be rejected.

Regarding using a website like GarantMe, beware that they will charge you every year – it is not a one time fee. This will be deducted from the card you put on the site and the only way to cancel the charge will be to show proof that you have moved out (i.e. an état des lieux or letter releasing you from the obligation signed from your landlord)

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