According to the rules established by the European Union and French law, if you intend to live in France for more than 90 days out of a 180-day period, you must first apply to the French consulate in your country of citizenship or permanent residence. The applicant must confirm this with documents when applying for a long-stay national Type D visa.
There are exceptions to the obligation to obtain a Type D visa from the consulate for spouses and close relatives of citizens of France and the European Union, who can, in theory, request a French resident permit without first obtaining a Type D visa. However this procedure may have a long time duration and is unpredictable – returning to your country of permanent residence and obtaining a Type D entry visa may be significantly faster and cheaper. If this question does come up, we can analyse your situation and advise you on the best course of action for your specific circumstances.
In the event of a positive decision, the consulate will issue you a "visiteur" visa for the term you requested. By law, the visa may be issued for a term of 3 to 12 months, but in most cases the application is for the maximum 12-month term.
The visa must be validated within three months of entering France. This requires completing an online declaration and paying an official fee of €200. If this procedure is not followed, the visa will be considered invalid and a new visa from the consulate will be needed to continue to reside in France.
Based on the online application made when validating the visa, adults will be invited for a medical exam, which is mandatory. Without the results of the exam you will not be able to extend your residence and receive a two-year residence permit.
In the first year in France, you will have a visa inserted in your passport. The D "visiteur" visa is in the VLS-TS (visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour) category and is equivalent to a residence permit card for the first year of residence in France. If you extend your stay in France with 'visiteur' status, a plastic residence permit card (carte de séjour) will be issued to you for the second and the later years. For 'visiteur' status, this card is issued for 12 months and can be extended annually.