French visa to join a relative or partner in France
If you are moving to France to join a relative or spouse, you can apply for a French visa for family reunification.
You can apply for a French family reunification visa to join a relative or partner living in France, provided you fulfill certain permit conditions. These will depend on a number of factors, such as nationality, the type of French permit your relative has, and how long he or she has been living there.
If you are a citizen of the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you are free to come to France without any visa. Read our guide for EU/EEA/Swiss nationals moving to France.
Relatives of EU/EEA/Swiss citizens
If you have a relative who is a EU/EEA/Swiss citizen living in France, you are allowed to join them even if you are not from one of those countries yourself.
You can get a tourist visa valid for up to 90 days, free of charge, if you apply to the embassy/consulate with a marriage certificate (if applicable), proof of your spouse’s nationality and a travel itinerary.
Information for family reunification for relatives of EU/EEA/Swiss nations can be found in our guide for EU/EEA/Swiss nationals moving to France.
Relatives of non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals
Spouses and minor children can apply to join family members who are not EU/EEA/Swiss citizens, living in France, under the following conditions:
- The family member you are going to join must be living in France for at least one year and hold a valid residence permit.
- Your relative must have adequate finances (an amount equal to the monthly minimum wage – EUR 1,445).
- There must be enough room for you: French standards are 16sqm for a couple, and 9sqm per extra person.
Your relative must go in person to the offices of the Direction départementale des affaires sanitaires et sociales (DDASS), which is the local medical and social services department or the OFII office, to file an application. He or she may be asked for proof of financial stability and the accommodation may be inspected.
If the application is successful, you can join your relative but you will need to get a long-stay visa (see Expatica's guide to the French visa system) from the embassy/consulate in your home country, valid for one year, which then acts as a residence card. The visa is free of charge. You have to register with the local branch of the OFII (Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration) within two months of arriving in France. If you are staying for longer than a year, then you need to apply for a residence card (carte de séjour); see The complete guide to the French visa system.
Special status for families of certain occupations
If your relative holds a residence permit marked 'skills and talents', 'employee on assignment', 'research scientist' or an EU Blue Card, your family is automatically granted a 'private family' and 'Family life' residence permit at the same time, for the duration of the spouse’s stay, allowing your family to work without a permit.
Families of those who have come to France to invest at least EUR 10 million and create at least 50 jobs are granted a 10-year residence permit for exceptional economic contribution.
Relatives of French nationals
You can join a family member living in France if you are:
- married to a French national (the marriage must have been entered into the French Civil Register if you married abroad), and you’re still together.
- the parent of a French minor child living in France and you have been contributing to his/her support and education for at least a year.
- the foreign child of French nationals and are under 21 or dependent on your parents.
- the dependent parent of an adult French national or spouse.
If you're from the EU/EEA, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino or Algeria, you can apply after you arrive in France; otherwise you’ll need to apply for a long-stay visa from the French embassy/consulate in your home country. You have to show a certified copy of your marriage certificate (the marriage must be registed with the French authorities) and proof of the French nationality of your spouse (e.g copy of a French ID card, birth certificate).
Relatives of asylum seekers
If your relative has been granted refugee status, you can be reunited in France if you are the spouse (married before the refugee status was granted) or a minor child (up to the age of 19).
When you arrive in France
On arrival in France, you have three months to contact the OFII, who will carry out a medical examination, issue you with a residence permit and may ask you to sign the Contrat d’Accueil et d’Intégration (CAI). This agreement, which aims to 'establish a relationship of trust and mutual obligation' between you and France itself, is valid for one year.
During this time, you are obliged to attend sessions (in your own language) on France’s political and administrative organisations and the values of French society (e.g. secularism, equality), and about everyday life in France. Your language skills will be assessed and you may be asked to take a language course leading to a Diploma of Introduction to French (DILF) or be given a certificate (AMDFL) to exempt you.
You don’t have to sign the CAI if you:
- are an EU/EEA/Swiss national.
- have been educated for at least three years in a French secondary educational institution outside of France.
- are aged 16–18 years and are entitled to a residence permit because you were born in France to foreign parents, are living in France, and if France has been your main residence for at least five years since the age of 11.
- are joining a relative who holds a certain type of work-related residence permit, for example, those marked ‘employee on assignment’, ‘skills and talents’ or a Blue Card (see Working in France: work permits and visas).
For more information:
- DIRECCTE – this is the French language website for the French Labour Ministry Directions régionales des entreprises, de la concurrence, de la consommation, du travail et de l'emploi. Go the main website and you can be redirected to the French region you need.
- OFII -– this is the English language version of the website for the L'office Francais de l'immigration et de l'intégration, the French agency in charge of migration. There are offices all over France; look on the website for contact details of your nearest one.
- France Diplomatie – this webpage is the English version of the website for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for more information on visas and migration to France.
- ARS – this webpage is the French language website for the Agence Régionale de Santé and where you can find your local Direction départementale des affaires sanitaires et sociales (DDASS).
- Service-Public – this website is for the French government's public services (in French). To find the contact details of your local mairie (town hall) see here, and for other local departments and public services, see here.
Note: the information in this article is for general information only and you should always seek advice from the French consulate if you have any queries about your particular circumstances.
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Updated: 2012, 2009.
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