French visa scientifique while abroad
July 10, 2009 9:11 AM   Subscribe

Can you get a French visa scientifique in France? Or another European country? Will the visa be essential for the carte de sejour?

I'm already traveling around Europe for various conferences. So it isn't convenient to return to the U.S. for the 3 weeks they say they need. How can I get a French visa scientifique without going back to the U.S.? Will I be able to get the carte de sejour without the visa? Will I need the visa anyway to get paid? etc.

It's not even clear which French consulate they'd want me to use, given I've not had a residence in the U.S. for the last 5 years. My last long term residence was in England.

I'd be happy using a visa expediting service, but I've not found any that handle French visas. Do you think this is merely that France doesn't issue the visas immediately for these services? I could manage to stay in one country for the required 3 weeks. I could also ask some family member to do the appointment for me. Or maybe France really wants the applicant in person?

p.s. Yes, I already have the protocol d'accueil.
posted by jeffburdges to Law & Government (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have no personal experience with this particular visa. That said:

According to this page (from the French consulate in Toronto), France is going to be issuing "biometric visas" starting Sept. 2009. This means they'll need to fingerprint you when you apply -- so you really do need to go in person (or will, anyway, once this takes effect).

Do you not have a current residence in some country other than the US? Typically you'd just apply at the consulate near that residence (or in your home country, of course). I'm sure you know this, but they'll take your passport while they consider your application -- so you need to have a period of a few weeks where you don't need your passport, which typically means that applying in the midst of multi-country travels aren't a great idea.

Glancing around on the interwebs, it sure looks to me like you need to get the visa before you could get your carte de sejour -- presuming you are staying long enough to need one.
posted by chalkbored at 10:55 AM on July 10, 2009

IANAIL, TINFILA (I Am Not An Immigration Lawyer, This Is Not French Immigration Law Advice). I am, however, an American living in France who has gone through both educational visas + carte de séjour and a regular visa + carte de séjour, and that second one was requested while I was living in Finland.

As chalkbored says, you should be able to apply at the French consulate in your current country of residence. When I lived in Finland, I went to the French consulate in Helsinki. It was no problem, since I was present legally in Finland and had established residency there (I had to provide my Finnish residence card).

If things are still similar to my own experiences from several years ago, you will need the visa to get the carte de séjour -- the visa is proof of your right of entry and stay for the time it takes for them to create the carte de séjour. The visa is stuck into your passport, and then stamped on your arrival in France. Both times, I had to go to the préfecture with my stamped visa and present it to start the carte de séjour process. Then you have to go back to pick up the carte once it's ready. Be prepared for the préfecture experience... the wait is often several hours, unless you're lucky enough to be in a lightly-populated area.
posted by fraula at 11:25 AM on July 10, 2009

I got to skip the préfecture line last time I came to France, as I held a visa scientifique, but that likely won't fly with merely a protocol d'accueil for scientific work. It sounds like the carte de sejour suffices for work, but it's unclear if I'll get the temporary one without the visa.

I hadn't noticed the biometric visa issue, yes that'll mean applications must be done in person. I just assumed the visa expediting companies didn't like France since the visas took 3 weeks to 3 months to issue. I guess it's also unclear that waiting on the visa is necessarily faster than waiting on the carte de sejour, although that's likely the case.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:00 PM on July 10, 2009

Last time I had a carte de sejour, one of the tricks I learned was that if you get turned down in one prefecture, just go to another one, or try a different department. It's very arbitrary, and there's no national system. Hope that helps.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:08 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

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