Spouse of a French Person and Holding a Carte de Séjour


I am facing what is maybe a common situation, which I struggle to find the answer to. I am non-EU citizen (American) living and working in France on the work permit. I recently got married to a French citizen. I was then told to change the status of my visa from working to marriage. I find it rather irrelevant. What would you advise? Is it obligatory to change the visa status after marriage? Is there a specific law I can refer to? Ideally, I would like to remain on a working visa.

Visa & Titre de Séjour

Before I answer your question I would like to address a vocabulary issue. You no longer hold an immigration visa. You received one when you first came to France as an immigrant, but now you hold a titre de séjour –most likely, based on what you say, a carte de séjour. Therefore your question relates to a change of immigration status.

First, even though you are married to a Frenchman, you are indeed allowed to decide that your main reason for staying in France is your work. In other words, there is absolutely no reason or, more importantly, obligation for you to change your immigration status simply because you have married. It is not a matter of doing something right or wrong; it is all about a choice you make.

Second, note that the carte de séjour mention vie privée is issued when an immigrant is married to a French person AND lives with the person full time. So if you do submit a request you must make sure to include what are called preuves de vie commune. These are administrative documents rather than personal items that would show the reality of the romantic ties.

Third, I should point out that if the immigrant changes status and the marriage breaks up before three years have elapsed, regardless of how many years they may have lived together beforehand, there is a very high chance that the foreigner will lose the right to live in France.

Therefore, I would advise you not to change your status. I believe this is the answer you were looking for. Some situations may look really good until you start investigating the details. Do not be fooled by appearance, especially if you are a foreigner.


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    Hi there,

    I am currently living in France and have been married to a French citizen for 10+ years. The trouble is, while we lived together in New York, we semi-separated when I came to France, and now I think we’re pretty much over. He has no desire to move back here, nor I back to New York. I have an appointment to renew my carte de séjour coming up, and I can’t prove that we live together here, though that was the original intention. My work is here, and I have a lease and bank account in France. What do I do, and is there a possibility I could be deported back to the US?

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    Frank Parise

    Hi, I am an American married to an EU citizen. I have a temporary carte sejour. My family and I live in the 15e of Paris. I have an apartment, phone, and electric bills in my name. I have all the paperwork needed for Carte Vitale except a RI or bank account.. I cannot get a bank account in my name until a get a permanent residency permit. But I cannot get a permanent residency permit until I have a Carte Vitale. I do not know how to get out of this loop.

    Today my carte de sejour expired. When I went to renew I was told that I did not have a carte vitale and it was not renewed. I was told to wait for a letter in the mail. So I am worried that I will not get a carte de sejour and my have to leave France. I have lived in France for almost 2 years with my wife,an EU citizen, and daughter. I do not have a home anywhere else but in Paris.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Frank Parise

    Thank you for any help.

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      Frank, I’ve had a temporary carte sejour for years (renewable every one year) and I have a bank account. You don’t need a permanent carte sejour to get this. However, if your carte de sejour has expired, you need to renew it (for another one year) and then use it to get a bank account, and then use that to get your Carte Vitale, and then apply for the permanent carte sejour.

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        jean taquet

        You are right, but I am not sure how it relates to the situation that started the discussion, being married to a French person and not having the SECU coverage.

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      Hi Frank, I’m sorry to hear about this difficult situation, and I understand your anxiety. Obviously the first thing you need to do is get another carte de séjour, even if it’s only for one year. If you didn’t have proof of insurance before (a Carte Vitale), how did you apply for your residency permit in the past? I would recommend seeking legal advice, or going to your local O.F.I.I. (Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration) with your wife to find out how you should proceed. If your French is a little rocky, definitely call on native French friends to help you. I would think you would have the right to a residency permit as the spouse of an E.U. citizen (regroupement familial).

      Once you have a new carte de séjour, you can get your bank account. On that note, I agree with what Travis has said here. One of our employees is an American who has been living in France for six years on one year visas/cartes de séjour, and she was able to get a bank account during her first month abroad. If a particular bank has refused you an account until you can get a permanent carte de séjour, it’s not the right bank for you! Shop around for one that will open an account for you, and demonstrate that you’ve been in this country for a while (via invoices, tax returns, work contracts, a letter from your spouse, etc.). I wonder if there might even be a bank that could open an account for you with just your passport as ID. Again, if you don’t feel comfortable in French, bring a French friend that will support you and speak for you if necessary. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to speak the language and persevere when it comes to dealing with red tape in this country.

      Don’t give up! I’m sure you’ll find a solution! And have a wonderful day!

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    T. Tarr

    Bonjour Jean!

    Thank you for being present and for your continued advice to so many. I have been living in France for one year under a titre sejour “profession liberale ou independent.” My visa is up late April and I will be renewing it. I am getting married to a French citizen in March.

    My intention is to apply for a renewal with a change in status, with the goal of making it possible for me to work in salaried jobs, intermittent spectacle statut, etc., as well as as profession liberal, which would help me get more work. Does that mean I should apply for a change to “vie privée et familiale”? And are there any disadvantages to changing to this status and any reasons to stay with my existing status, for which I am in current good standing?

    I hope your answer can help a few others as well.

    Merci et bon journée!


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      You nailed the issue right on the dot, renewing your existing status is the safest thing to do and you just to delay your project by one year. Now the normal guidelines of the prefectures to accept for sure the vie privée request is to submit it about 3 to 6 months after the wedding which will not be your case. Indeed the provision in the law states that the foreigner must be married to the French citizen AND continue to live together. So it is the “living together” that requires some seniority. So I see 3 possible scenarios:
      1 – you renew profession libéral, risk zero and you know that next year it will be extremely easy as long as you build up the proof of living together,
      2 – you go for vie privée but you are very careful to have an appointment at the prefecture in June. This requires that you know how to handle those late meetings with the récépissé and also that you can plan ahead all the proof of living together than one can get, this way you might be able to score in such a short time.

      3 – you do nothing special about the timing and you ask for a change of status. Then clearly you are leaving the decision up to the civil servant and to the prefecture to decide how your request should be reviewed. This would the most dangerous of all since from the outside it appears like a desperate attempt to maintain a legal stay through marriage.

      Let me know if this answers your concerns. I can help you professionally. Best regards Jean Taquet

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        Travis Tarr

        This does help immensely, thank you! In the end, they changed it to a renouvellement – pacs liens personnels et familiaux instead of granting a later deadline for vie privee, so we’ll arrive with the marriage certificate along with the required 4 documents each showing our same address with a date 12 months ago. I’ll be bringing all my profession liberale documents just in case. We will definitely contact you in the case we need more extensive professional assistance and be happy to recommend you highly to anyone. Merci! Regards, T


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