Living in France is an unforgettable experience; the cuisine, the culture, and the beautiful cities and villages can’t be beat. However, one of the less glamorous parts about living abroad is the bureaucracy. In order to actually live and work or study in France you need a visa if you are not a European Union citizen. In this article I’m going to tell you how to get through all of the paperasse (paperwork) you need to know to renew a travailler temporaire visa in France.
*I am writing from the perspective of an American citizen. This process might be different for other nationalities. To be sure of the rules and regulations, I would recommend visiting the France Visas Website.*
The travailleur temporaire Visa
This type of visa is for temporary workers in France who usually have a CDD aka un contract à travail de durée déterminée (fixed-term contract). After completing a Master’s program abroad, I got a job as a lectrice d’anglais and changed my visa status in France from student to temporary worker. If you graduate from a French university, you may be eligible for another type of visa for recent graduates. If you get a CDI – aka un contract à travail de durée indéterminée (a job contract without a fixed amount of time) you can apply for a salarié visa.
Why renew in France?
If your current visa expires close to the start date of your new contract, then you should most likely be able to renew in France itself rather than going back to your home country. For example, my student visa was valid for one year and would expire in August and my new job was going to start in September so I was able to apply for a change of status – changement de statut that summer. This year my work visa expired in September and my new contract would also be starting in September.
I applied to renew my visa in France because it would have been less of a hassle than having to fly back to the US and make a visa appointment there. Also, if you live/work in France for at least 5 consecutive years you can apply for French citizenship. If I went back to the US for my visa, I would have broken that streak. Even though I am going on my 4th year of living in France, only 3 of those 4 years will count towards nationality because the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF) visa is only 7 months long and I had to go back to the US to get a student visa.
When and How to Make an Appointment
You should make a request for an appointment to renew your visa at least 2 months before your current visa/titre de séjour will exprire. This year, even though I requested the appointment 2 months in advance, I got an appointment date that was after the expiration of my visa. This is nothing big to worry about though because as long as you have proof of an appointment, you’re not going to be kicked out of France. For each préfecture, the process of making an appointment might be different. I remember in Paris, there was a phone number I had to call as well as an email address I needed to contact to make an appointment.
In the département where I live now, there was a simple form on their website I had to fill out to make a request. If you are changing status/renewing and moving to a new city, make an appointment in the département you will be living/working in. I made a mistake when changing my status from student to worker in the wrong préfecture last year and it made the process a whole lot more complicated. You can hear all about what NOT to do in this video below:
Documents You Need to Renew a travailleur temporaire Visa
The documents you need to renew your visa may differ depending on the préfecture and depending on whether or not you are renewing with the same employer, but the ones I was asked to bing include:
- The email with your rendez-vous information to present at the préfecture the day of your appointment
- The application form that was sent with your appointment information
- A photo copy of the ID pages of your Passport
- A copy of you current/expiring visa
- Proof of housing like an electricity or phone bill, a housing contract, rent payment receipt, or a housing tax form (taxe d’habitation).
- 3 ID format photos ( I got mine in a Photomaton booth at a train station)
- A déclaration sociale nominative or an attestation d‘activité professionelle from your employer or an attestation d‘activité professionelle downloaded by you on the https://www.mesdroitssociaux.gouv.fr/ site – for this my employer used by old contract and I also gave them copies of my pay slips from last year
- L’autorisation de travail correspondant au poste occupé (CERFA n° 15187*01) – my HR department sent this form directly to la DIRECCTE, but some prefectures will send this form to the DIRECCTE, not your employer
Documents to Have Just in Case
These are some documents I had just in case, that weren’t specifically listed that came in handy:
- Copies of bulletins de paie (pay slips) from last year
- My diplomas and translations
- A copy of my Birth Certificate
- Copies of my past visas as well as passport stamps to prove my date of entry in France
I also brought other doucments like copies of my latest bank statement, my carte vitale, my Test de connaissance du français results, my CV in French. However they ended up not being required.
At the Appointment
When to Arrive
You should arrive in advance to your appointment, but just how early depends on your préfecture. In bigger areas like Paris, you would probably want to come 30 minutes to an hour in advance because lines can get long, even when you do have an appointment. But be sure to ask about the different lines because you don’t want to be stuck waiting in the wrong one for two long! Since my préfecture in the Pyrénées-Orientales department is small, I arrive 5-10 minutes in advance.
The Waiting Game
After you are let in to the building and pass through security, you will have to wait in a waiting room until you are called. In Paris I waited about 30 minutes to an hour before I was called up to the guichet, but at my last appointment in Perpignan, I only waited about 10 minutes. During the Pandemic I think they reduced the amount of appointments available at one time at the prefecture, so this could be the reason why my appointment was quicker than usual.
Once you are at the desk you will hand over your application and documents as the worker asks for them and types information into a computer. Since this was a renewal I wasn’t asked many questions. After all the needed documents are handed in you will be asked for your photos, then your fingerprints will be taken. Before leaving I had to sign another document and I was given a récépissée, which is a temporary document, which combined with your old carte de séjour, allows you to continue to live and work in France while your new carte de séjour is being made. I was told I would be notified by email if there were any other documents I would need to provide. Last year I got a letter when my new card was ready to be picked up, but I know that in Paris, they send you a text.
Thanks so much for reading and let me know in the comments if you have any questions or any complicated visa stories of your own!