However, even for EU-citizens a residency permit (carte de séjour) is very useful, as this makes life easier,and without one you cannot get access to many state services or aids - such as housing financial aid, etc.
Non-EU/EEA nationals, if staying longer then three months in France, need to apply for residency permit (titre de séjour). Unlike visas, residency permits are only issued in France. You apply in person at your local préfecture de Police or sous-préfecture in at the services des étrangers (foreigners office). If the prefecture is not close to your place of residence, you can also apply to through your local town hall office (mairie). To make an application, you need to have obtained a long-stay visa before coming to France. A short-term visa is not sufficient to make an application for residency!
To obtain your residency permit, you have to submit many documents, which will depend on what kind of residency permit you are going to ask for. In most cases this will include the following:
- original and photocopy of your passport with a valid long-stay visa
- birth certificate (acte de naissance, etat civil), in addition to certified translation into French, which should be produced in your home country (or at your country's embassy in Franch, who may be able to provide this service) by an official translator accredited by the French Embassy in your home country.
- original and photocopy of proof of residence (statement of domicile, electricity bill or rent receipt)
- employees must present a certificate of employment and latest payment slips
- self-employed people must provide proof of their status (subscription to URSSAF, trade or TVA register, etc.)
- retired and unemployed people must provide proof they have adequate financial resources to live in France
- students must also provide proof they have adequate financial resources as well as proof of enrolment in an educational institution recognized by the French Ministry of Education
- medical certificate issued by OMI ( office des migrations internationales), an institution/doctor approved by OMI or a French Embassy
- medical insurance
- three passport-size photographs
If a document is not in French, you should supply a certified French translation.
On submitting all documents, you will receive a receipt acknowledging an application for a resident's permit. This acts as the document legalizing your temporary stay in France until you get your permit (or not). The whole process take from betwen a week to a few months.
A residency permit usually also gives the right to residency for your spouse and children (when minors).