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Just graduated and moving to Europe with a girlfriend and no job
January 29, 2008 6:04 AM   Subscribe

Help an almost-grad figure out how to move to Europe with his girlfriend

I just learned girlfriend has been given an incredible opportunity at work. Her company is an international one and she's been working at their US headquarters for the past year or so. Sometimes they will take a rising star and send them abroad for a few years to prepare them for the upper echelons of the company. So, I've been told that she's going to be moving to either Italy, Spain or France in 5 months and that she'd like me to join her. It's probably going to be France, specifically Paris, but the other options are there if we can't make Paris work.

Although I am absolutely scared out of my mind about leaving the comfortable United States, the prospect of moving to Europe excites me incredibly. I've done a bit of research and it seems that I need a full-time income source in France in order to obtain a work visa. I'm about to graduate from a fairly prestigious engineering college on the east coast, but I've been doing full-time contract work for the past year. Mostly Ruby on Rails web development stuff, but also some Spring/Struts and a bit of PHP.

Is there any way for me to obtain a long-term visa while continuing my contract work in the US? If not, do you have recommendations about where someone with my skill-set could get a job in France?

Additionally, if any of you have any advice/words-of-wisdom about moving to Europe, please send them my way! I definitely need some help calming down about this.
posted by swhitt to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
You live in Somerville, which is reasonably close to the French consulate in Boston. You will need to go there some morning to get your visa. Here's the French embassy's web site, which will list visa requirements. You can get a long-stay visa without having a full-time job, but that requires evidence that you will not be participating in any paid activities while in France. the consulate has French cultural events where you can hobnob and possibly find a connection for work, or at least more information.
posted by mkb at 6:31 AM on January 29, 2008


Do you really need a visa?

I mean, if you're getting paid from contract work in the US and just living in France, presumably leaving every couple of months and getting a new stamp in your passport, who is ever going to ask you for a visa?

BTW don't forget that if you're out of the US more than 12 months it will significantly reduce your taxes. See IRS or accountant for details, the timing requirements can be a little tricky.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 6:50 AM on January 29, 2008


Do it.

American, Lifelong Texan, Up and moved to London a 18 months ago. Lived in London, Cambridge, moving to Finland in a few days. Wouldn't go back in a second.

Get rid of all of your shit. Figure out your priorities in life. Focus on them.

You'll rapidly learn that your perception of a place and the reality are radically different. Some things are worse, some are better. Your ability to roll with it and see the enjoyability, adventure and positivity in any situation will be a lifesaver.

Very few people get to experience this sort of lifestyle shift. I count myself extremely lucky that I've gotten this chance.

Savor it.

Practical Advice -
Use Seven Seas Worldwide for moving.
posted by Lord_Pall at 6:50 AM on January 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


if you need a visa, many language schools that are cerified by the govt can get you 1 year visas if you enroll, just ask the French consulate
posted by matteo at 6:54 AM on January 29, 2008


Read some expat blogs about life for Americans in France. I'd recommend Sam de Bretagne, and Dispatches from France as a start (loads more in their blogrolls).
posted by Lezzles at 7:06 AM on January 29, 2008


I mean, if you're getting paid from contract work in the US and just living in France, presumably leaving every couple of months and getting a new stamp in your passport, who is ever going to ask you for a visa?

The French immigration authorities, when they see how often you're coming into the country.
posted by grouse at 7:25 AM on January 29, 2008


This might be a good start.

The French Consulate website for New York gives us this page, which describes the Long Stay Visitor Visa. The pdf translation of the application form for this visa seems to indicate that you can 'work' in France if the money is earned elsewhere (i.e. contract teleworking). Best answer though is to go and make an appointment at the consulate to ask them.

Good luck, and have an awesome time.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:44 AM on January 29, 2008


Go for it and don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
I spent 6 years in the military in the 80's to travel and see Europe and Asia, and it worked out great and instilled a love of travel in me that exists today.
Oh, and to go to college for free.

Have a blast and don't look back.
posted by willmize at 7:48 AM on January 29, 2008


"I mean, if you're getting paid from contract work in the US and just living in France, presumably leaving every couple of months and getting a new stamp in your passport, who is ever going to ask you for a visa?

BTW don't forget that if you're out of the US more than 12 months it will significantly reduce your taxes. See IRS or accountant for details, the timing requirements can be a little tricky."


A few operational points here; first of all, most countries will start to ask questions when they see you enter and leave frequently. I'm American, live in London and am in Amsterdam for a week every month. I've been doing my current job for about two years, and The Dutch immigration authorities started asking me questions regarding my time in The Netherlands last summer. If you're in a country more than 182 days, usually you have to start to pay taxes.

Also, it's my understanding that much of the tax benefits referred to here are only available on foreign sourced income. Just moving abroad doesn't automatically exclude income derived from US source of the obligation to pay US taxes.

If you did earn money abroad from a foreign source, the first $95K (or so) is free of Federal taxes on the US side, but the IRS will want some verification this was earned while working abroad. Meanwhile, the French side will levy taxes on all income and nominal rates are much higher in France than in US.

And be aware France and The United States have a wide range of what are called Tax Information Exchange Agreements or TIEAs. If you tell the IRS you're working in France, they're going to check documentation from the French side if for no other reason to insure that the credits you claim for taxes paid in France are valid. I'd be surprised if the French wouldn't follow up as well.

I'll second what Lord Pall said about residing abroad; I left New York in 1997 and I'm not returning. Living in a foreign country is a wonderfully mind expanding experience.
posted by Mutant at 7:50 AM on January 29, 2008


it's my understanding that much of the tax benefits referred to here are only available on foreign sourced income.

No, it's foreign earned income, which is income earned abroad. The IRS says, by way of example, "...income you receive for work done in Austria is income from a foreign source even if the income is paid directly to your bank account in the United States and your employer is located in New York City." The only exception is if you are a U.S. government employee.
posted by grouse at 8:06 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


grouse said: The French immigration authorities, when they see how often you're coming into the country.

I've never had any trouble with French immigration. Totally laissez-faire every time I come through Paris, which is at least twice a year for the last 7 years. My US passport should be a real eye-opener for them, but they've never asked a single question.

I have a visa for Austria which is the size of a credit card, and which I carry in my wallet, but no one in France (or Austria) has ever asked to see it at any immigration checkpoint.

US and UK immigration are tougher, in my experience.
posted by syzygy at 8:14 AM on January 29, 2008


One very important thing that many american immigrants to europe don't seem to get: We do NOT want to hear about how different America is. Just don't talk about America when you are in Europe. It's a boring topic.
posted by markovich at 3:39 AM on January 30, 2008


We do NOT want to hear about how different America is. Just don't talk about America when you are in Europe. It's a boring topic.

Actually, some Europeans do and will, in fact, ask you about it. Just don't talk about it to markovich and you'll be fine.
posted by grouse at 5:35 AM on January 30, 2008


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