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EXPLAINED: Can I bring my family to join me in France on my visa?

The Local France
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EXPLAINED: Can I bring my family to join me in France on my visa?
Family reunification can be a long-winded process in France. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP)

It’s understandable that foreign nationals legally living in France would want close family members to join them, but what are the rules?


If you already live in France and you hold a residency permit (visa or carte de séjour), then you might be wondering how and whether or not you can bring family members here.

Thanks to freedom of movement rules, citizens of EU and EEA member states, as well as Swiss nationals, have the right to live and work in France. 

But the same cannot be said for anyone from other countries, including Brits coming over after Brexit, for example, or those from the United States, or Australia, who have come to France on a visa. 

It should probably be noted, here, that non-EU/EEA nationals married to a French citizen can apply for a spouse visa to live with their loved one in France. Similarly, the situation is a bit different for Brits covered by the Withdrawal Agreement (more below).

While there are several visas for those wanting to stay in France for an extended period, this article will focus on the options available to foreigners resident in France who want to bring their family members to come live here.

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Requesting a 'regroupement familial'

In the situation of one family member coming over to France on a visa and settling into life here, the process to bring family is called regroupement familial. This should not be confused with a similar French term - réunification familiale - which is specifically applied to stateless people or those holding refugee status.


When it comes to regroupement familial, French law defines family members as spouses (over 18 years old) and minor (under 18 years old) children. 

Conditions for family reunification depend on the status of the foreign national living in France and the relationship with any person who wishes to move over to be with them. For example, any adult children do not have the right to live in France under the regroupement process – they would have to apply for a visa themselves.

Similarly, the procedure for ascendant relatives (eg. elderly parents) is different and outlined below.

In order to see if you are eligible for a regroupement familial, you can use this French government simulator.

If you hold a passeport talent or posted (seconded) worker status then you can benefit from a simplified procedure and there is no time minimum for residency.

But for most non-EU residents in France, the rule of thumb is that the request can be made after having lived in France for at least 18 months, as long as you hold either a 10-year residency card, or a residency permit valid for more than one year (eg salarié, vie famille et privée, étudiant).

However, it is possible this will change with France's new immigration law, which would make it so that a foreigner living in France would need to be here for 24 months before applying to have family join them, and unmarried partners would need to be at least 21 years old, rather than 18 at present. 

READ ALSO Moving to France: Remote work, French schools and how much money you'll need

If you cannot meet these requirements, then the long-term visitor visa may be a better option for bringing your family member to France.

What steps to expect?

In the general case of requesting for a regroupement familial, you should expect a fair amount of paperwork. It begins with the person already resident in France applying for the regroupement familial, and then family members will need to apply for visas at the French consulate of the country where they live.

In normal circumstances, you cannot apply to bring part of your immediate family over, then apply to bring the rest of them over later – it’s all of them or nothing. Under certain circumstances, however, you may be able to be reunited with your children if your spouse for whatever reason cannot join you at the same time.

You must also be able to prove you can support your family financially – the minimum wage is considered to be sufficient for a couple with one child – and that you can provide a property suitable to accommodate them all. 

Once the person in France has received notification from the French Office for Immigration and Integration that their family regroupement request has been approved, only then can the family overseas apply for a related visa application – which must include the approval document.

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And, when they receive their visas, they must arrive in France within three months, then validate their visas online, and pay any necessary fees.


Full details of fees and other requirements are available here.

What about older family members?

The right to family reunification does not as easily apply to parents or grandparents of the applicant even if they are financially or medically dependent on you.

The French website Service-Public explains that elderly parents can come to France "under the status of 'visitor' if they have the financial resources".

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: Can you bring an ageing parent to France to live?

What about Brits covered by the Withdrawal Agreement?

If you are a UK national and were legally resident in France before December 31st 2020 then you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, and should have the special post-Brexit carte de séjour known as the WARP or Article 50 TUE.

The Withdrawal Agreement states that Brits covered by it can bring family members to join them in the EU - and this covers "direct descendants under the age of 21 or dependants, direct ascendant dependants, spouse or partner with a lasting and proven relationship", according to the French Brexit government portal.

In the case of parents, this is the "direct ascendant dependants" bit - so you have to prove not only that these are your parents, but that they are financially dependent on you (eg by showing regular bank payments from you to your parent) and that there are not other family members available to care for them in the UK. 


Once your parent arrives in France, an application with your local préfecture citing the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement must be submitted within three months of their arrival. Depending on your préfecture, the website may have a Brexit oriented page (for instance, the city of Paris does). 

The application will likely require your birth certificate showing your parents' information, as well as ID (passports), and a proof of housing (justicatif de domicile). Additionally, your parent will need to show proof of private medical insurance to cover the first three months of their stay.


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