SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

AMERICANS IN FRANCE

Reader question: How long can I stay out of France and keep my residency rights?

Getting residency in France comes with conditions, and in some cases limits on how long you can be out of the country.

Reader question: How long can I stay out of France and keep my residency rights?
Photo by Thomas Coex / AFP

Question: I have my residency card and the right to live and work in France – but how long can I stay out of France and still keep my residency status?

The short answer to this is that it depends on the type of residency card you have.

Long-term residency

Starting with the easy one, assuming you have lived in France for more than five continuous years, you probably have a carte de séjour permanent.

Here the ‘permanent’ refers to the right of residency, the card itself lasts for 10 years and then needs to be renewed. However the renewal is a simple administrative process and you do not need to provide further proof of your work, study or financial status.

But you can lose your right to permanent residence if you leave France for more than two consecutive years, which means you would have to go through the process of building up your right to a carte de sejour permanent all over again.

Short-term residency

The standard model for any non-EU citizen who wants to stay in France for more than three months is to first apply for a visa, then move to France, then apply for a residency card at your local préfecture.

When you apply for their card varies depending on the type of visa you have, but it’s usually within one year.

The type of residency card also varies according to your reason for wanting to stay in France and all come with fees. Some even demand an ‘integration contract’ demonstrating your willingness to take language lessons if your French is poor.

The validity period for these cards varies, but the basic model is that you get a temporary card first and then after five years of residency apply for the permanent card.

However, be aware that you should not spend more than 10 months outside France during your initial five-year period, otherwise your right to a ‘permanent’ card may be held-up.

READ ALSO How to apply for a French visa

Brits

Any UK national who moves to France after January 1st 2021 is subject to the same visa and residency requirements as other non-EU nationals including Americans and Canadians.

For those who moved here before December 31st 2020, however, the situation is slightly different.

Anyone who moved to France before December 31st 2020 needs to apply for a Withdrawal Agreement carte de séjour – and must do it before September 30th 2021.

Those who have been here more than five years, or who are married to a French national, get a carte de séjour permenant, those here less than five years get a five-year card. The rules on being absent from France are the same as other types of cards mentioned above.

EU nationals

Good news for anyone with the passport of an EU country – freedom of movement means that you can enter and leave France as you wish, with no limits on how long you have to stay.

Applying for citizenship

After you have been in France for five years (or two years if you completed higher education at a French university), you may wish to apply for French citizenship.

READ ALSO Am I eligible for French citizenship?

However if you are applying through residency (as opposed to through marriage or through family) then the 10-month rule also applies.

You need five years of continuous residency before you can start your citizenship application, and more than 10 months of absence means your residency is not counted as continuous’

Exemptions

There are some exemptions to the absence rule and they include serious illness, maternity, military service, study or research.

What about dual residency?

This concept does not exist, so anyone with a second home in France who wants to stay longer than three months will either have to apply for a visa or make their French home their primary residence.

Otherwise they will be limited to a maximum stay of 90 days in 180.

READ ALSO How second-home owners can properly plan for their 90-day limit in France

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

CULTURE

A guide for how to survive fall in France for homesick Americans

Looking to recreate American autumn festivities while living in France? Here are some of The Local's tips for how to avoid the seasonal homesickness this year.

A guide for how to survive fall in France for homesick Americans

For many, fall or autumn is a sacred time in the United States, marked by spooky cobwebs, weekends filled with visits to pumpkin patches, jugs of apple cider, and searching for the perfect Halloween costume. 

It is an easy time of year to feel homesick for Americans living in France, especially when it feels like you are missing out on holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving with friends and family at home.

READ MORE: Readers’ tips: How to create an authentic Thanksgiving in France

While it might never be the same as a New England fall, here are some tips on how to make autumn in France feel a bit more like home:

For when you miss pumpkin patches:

Yes this is possible in France! Pumpkins grow in fields across central France, and they are available in most supermarkets once the fall season has begun. However, if you are looking for a traditional pumpkin patch experience, that might be a bit trickier to find. If you devote yourself to a bit of research, then you will likely be able to find a ‘Fête de la Citrouille‘ or ‘Foire à la citrouille‘ (Pumpkin festivals) near you. These are more like fall fairs, complete with ‘heaviest pumpkin’ competitions and food stands.

While these might be a bit different from what you are used to, they are a great way to enjoy pumpkins (in a French way).

Many of these events will be announced on Facebook, so you can start by searching there. 

If you live in the Paris region there are a few pumpkin patches not too far outside of the city. The ‘Fermes de Gally‘ host a yearly pumpkin picking and carving festival. You could also visit “Ferme du Logis” or the “Vergers de Champlain.”

For when you want to celebrate Halloween:

You have a few options for trick-or-treating, if that’s your thing. You can always organise a private event with some other Halloween enthusiasts. Though, keep in mind that in France people say “des bonbons ou un sort” instead of ‘trick-or-treat’ in English. The other option is to see whether your local mairie is hosting an event. While Halloween is definitely not as popular in France as it is in the United States, it is becoming more common. 

If you are looking for a more official, organised event, you might consider going to the “Disney Halloween Festival.” During the festivities, the ‘villains’ take over the park, which is fully decorated for Halloween. When you enter the park, you’ll be greeted by smiling scarecrows with pumpkins on their heads, lanterns lighting up the park, and characters in ‘scary’ (kid-friendly) costumes.

During the actual Halloween weekend, the park hosts dedicated soirées. Tickets usually go for 79€ to 89€ per person.

Another option, particularly if you have older kids looking for a scarier Halloween, might be Parc Asterix. Each year, usually for the entirety of the month of October, the park is decked out in autumn colours with pumpkins, corn, and even straw bales. If you want to take younger children, you can go to the ‘Petit frisson’ (small scare) section. 

For when you miss pumpkin flavoured everything:

You do not have to give up pumpkin spice if you stay in France this fall! Starbucks (with locations across the country) sells pumpkin spice lattes.

If you want to make your own PSL, you can find ‘pumpkin spice’ in France (with a bit of effort). Carrefour reportedly sells the seasoning (see HERE). For the truly determined, you can find pumpkin spice on French Amazon too. 

The best bet for finding pumpkin spice – for all your baking and coffee needs – is to see if there is a local American épicerie or store near you. You might try the “Brooklyn Fizz” store in Lyon; “The Great McCoy” market in Paris; or the “Épicerie Americaine” in Bordeaux.

If there are not any, you can always try the online store “My American Market.”

For pumpkin scented candles, you can either replace with another fall scent (search: “bougie parfumées automne“) or you can order a Bath and Body Works candle online – see HERE

Finally, if you are looking to make a homemade pumpkin pie, consider doing so with an actual pumpkin. Pumpkin purée is hard to come by in France, but chopping up the pumpkin yourself is certainly one way to satisfy the craving.

For when you miss apple picking and cider:

In France, Normandy and Brittany are known for apple production, with their own apple cider traditions. Take a trip to Normandy and enjoy apple and cider festivals – learn more HERE.  

READ MORE: French figures: The drink that sparked a regional crockery battle

While the festivals might be lacking in apple cider donuts, you can always try your hand in making some homemade. Most of the ingredients should be accessible, though you might struggle a bit early in the season with locating nutmeg (muscade en français). As the fall season goes on, most large grocery store chains ought to stock up.

For apple pie cravings, consider trying the French equivalent: tarte aux pommes. Though it might be exactly the same as American apple pie with vanilla ice cream on top, it is still delicious and available in most boulangeries. 

If you live in the Paris area, or you are visiting, you can check out Boneshaker Donuts. The owners combine French and American traditions, and always have a full fall assortment. 

For when you miss American football:

Another source of homesickness for many Americans is the lack of American football on television in France. 

If you have a VPN on your computer, you might not run into this issue as much, but for those looking to simply watch football on cable TV, you have some options as well.

Comparitech recommends France’s two official NFL broadcasters: L’Equipe and beIN Sports. L’Equipe reportedly airs every Sunday game and playoff live, including the Super Bowl. It is free to use, so you do not need to purchase a premium subscription to view NFL games. 

Another tip might be to visit Irish, British or Scottish pubs in your area. Oftentimes, they will have access to sports channels that air NFL games too. 

For college football, Hulu’s live TV option should allow you to stream most games. 

Unfortunately, the ESPN + subscription will locate your IP address, so this is not possible without a VPN. However, you can purchase the NFL Game Pass and use it from France. You can choose between watching the Redzone or simply a single, specific game. This also allows you to split your screen, so you can watch multiple games at once.

For when you are just generally homesick:

While this might not be the perfect antidote, it might be an opportunity to make the most out of France’s fall traditions. You can start creating new hobbies and pastimes that might just become your craving this time next year. Visit a spooky French cemetery, go to your local market and buy fresh squash and Brussels sprouts, sip mulled wine, or even go out foraging for mushrooms.

The Local put together a full guide to autumn in France HERE.

READ MORE: 11 ways to make the most of autumn in France

If you are missing the foliage, consider going for a hike or weekend trip to any of these French locations that are known for stunning fall views. 

At the end of the day, if you really cannot handle being far from home during autumn, consider simply visiting the US. While flights to the US are always going to be pricey, the trip is usually cheaper in autumn than during peak times, such as summer vacation or Christmas. This off-season trip might be what you (and your wallet) needs.

SHOW COMMENTS