Many assistants want to try to stay in France after their visa expires. Although France is notorious for its red tape, it can be done legally. However, I will not deny it is difficult to do if you do not plan ahead. Below, I have several options for people who are looking for another way to live or work in France once completing TAPIF.
1. Re-Apply for TAPIF– As of 2015, the CIEP now gives English assistants the chance to renew their assistant contracts for a second year. If you didn’t or you couldn’t renew, you can also sit a year out and re-apply for TAPIF from the United States. It is also possible to find an assistant job in a private school (basically, the school sponsors your visa separately and the contract does not follow the same regulations.)
2. Lecteur/Lectrice or Maître de Langue- If you are looking for a different way to support yourself financially and live in France, the lecteur visa is the way to go. The visa process is similar to the assistant visa, it is sponsored and paid for by the university you will work for, the contract is one year long and is renewable once, you teach about 14 hours per week, you are paid all twelve months of the year, and the salary is higher at about 1227€ net per month of a Lecteur/lectrice and 1500€ for a Maître de Langue. However, these positions are few and far between and you must search and apply for them yourself.Most positions are not even posted until March or April or May, when most people have begun to leave France. Additionally, most positions really want you to have a year of post-graduate studies for a lecteur position, and a full Master’s Degree for the Maître de Langue position (this is where I encountered the most setbacks; having no Master’s Credits meant that some universities didn’t even give my application a second glance. Because of my lack of a Master’s Degree, I used my teaching certificate from the state of Wisconsin to count as my post-graduate studies. I didn’t even bother applying for Maître de Langue positions and just stuck with Lectrice ones.) In order to be successful when searching for a Lecteur/Lectrice position, you need to translate your resume into a French CV–both the language and the style. You also need to have a kick-butt lettre de motivation, or cover letter, written in French, of course. This process alone took me over a month. I used Google search to find several lectrice positions, but the vast majority came from my friend Jennie at ielanguages.com, whom is so great at finding and updating available Lectrice/Maître de langue positions for the upcoming year. I also networked with friends and acquaintances, (and ultimately, that’s how I found and obtained my position.) I sent out about fifteen different applications all around France (successful lecteur job-searching means that you need to be willing to move), but only heard back from a few. Interviews were even more scarce, and in the end I was offered and accepted a position. Overall, this route is the easiest way to go in terms of living in France long-term, but you’re really on your own, and there’s no TAPIF support system or Natalie Cox. For a more thorough explanation my application process, check out my post here.
3. American-French Chamber of Commerce Training Visa- Since 1992, the FACC training program helps Americans between the ages of 18-35 secure work in France with French companies for up to 18 months. In order to qualify for this visa, you must be currently enrolled in a university or already possess a university degree. It is up to you to secure employment in France, and then contact the FACC for visa sponsorship application materials (completed by you and your host company). Basically, the FACC will pay for and sponsor your visa, so the company doesn’t have to. This may make them much more open and likely to hire foreigners, as it is long, complicated, and expensive for them to do so otherwise. Your contract must include a 35-hour work week and be a CDD, or Contrat à Durée Déterminée, meaning that there is an expiration date to your contract and therefore time in France. Visit the official website for more information. It is a great way to work in France for an extended period of time, and you should follow the instructions explained above in regards to a strong CV and cover letter in French to ensure higher success.
4. Au Pair Visa- If you like kids, you can look into becoming an au pair. With the au pair visa, your room and board is covered, you attend French classes at a university, and you are provided with a weekly stipend (and sometimes a car!) Au Pair experiences, like TAPIF ones, are also luck of the draw. A lot depends on you and your family. The best two websites I know of for finding legit families are greataupair.com and aupairworld.net. My friend Brita is a huge resource for aspiring au pairs:
“On the greataupair.com site, you have the choice of a paid/free membership. Most families have a paid membership, so it’s okay if you choose the free one. However, you can find families faster and learn more about them more quickly if you have a paid membership. Families start looking for new au pairs as early as January, but most don’t start until March or even later. If you have a profile and are actively contacting families by March, you probably won’t need a paid account. Contracts generally run between 10 months and a year. The school year is the first week of September through the first week of July. Some families will want you to come a few weeks before school starts to get acclimated; others will want you to work for part of the summer after school ends. My contract was just for the school year. I flew in the day before school started, worked through the last day of school, and went home the next week. Paperwork can be a bit complicated, and some families will be unscrupulous and not want to do the visa process. Do NOT accept a position with a family that wants you to come on just the visitor’s visa (since Americans can come to France for 90 days without an actual visa). There is a visa just for au pairs, and you need to have that so you’ll be signed up for la Securité Sociale. Legally, the family only has to pay you 60 euros a week plus contribute 20 euros a week to your French classes; provide you with a travel pass or a car so you can get to your classes; give you one full day off per week; not have you work more than 30 hours a week; give you one week paid vacation for every six months of work; room & board; not supposed to do housework aside from dishes or cleaning up after the kids. But, most families offer more than that, and you should be able to negotiate with them a bit. Asking for 100 euros a week is perfectly reasonable, asking them to pay for half your French classes, and getting weekends off.”
5. Student Visa- If you want to study in France, you should apply for a student visa. These are the easiest visas to obtain. I know several assistants who have pursued Master’s Degrees in France, and compared to the tuition rates in the United States, getting a degree in France is a no brainer. I recommend checking out Campus France for more details on how to get started. Best of all, on a student visa, you can still work up to 20 hours a week and support yourself. Upon completing your Master’s Degree, you can apply for the APS visa, which gives recent foreign graduates a year to stay in France to find sponsored work after completing their studies.
7. Company-sponsored Work Visa- Technically speaking, you can look for a job in France with a company willing to sponsor and pay for your visa without any sort of program. This is what happened to me– I was able to find sponsored employment in France at an international school. I still cannot believe that I was able to do this, but I know it was due to my teaching degree and experience that I was offered the job (I also did a ton of networking.) Although easier said than done, it can be done! Another way to do this would be via an inter-company transfer (i.e.: to have your American company transfer you into a French branch overseas.)
8. 3-month Tourist Visa- If you just want to live in France for part of the year and not work, come on a tourist visa. Legally, Americans can spend up to 180 days per year on a tourist visa in the Schengen Zone, but only 90 days at a time, meaning you need to leave and come back. It’s a temporary solution, but the easiest if you have the means to do so.
9. Marriage or PACSed- If you have a French partner, marriage and PACS may be options for you. Being legally joined to a French partner means you have the right to apply for un Titre de Long Séjour visa or a vie privée et familiale visa, which usually gives you the right to work. My friend Jennie, who was PACSed, has a TON of information on her blog.
Do you have any other suggestions or ways you’ve managed to stay in France?