Expat Essentials

Krystal Kenney in Paris: Easy visas for Americans dreaming of moving to France

Are you dreaming of moving to France? I hear this over and over when I tell Americans back home how I packed my bags and moved to France. Their first response is usually, “Wow, you are living my dream!” followed by “How did you do it?” Looking back on my planning to move, I remember having the same feelings of being unaware of how to move to France and what the paperwork process looked like. 

This will mark my ninth year in France, and I will apply for a French passport this month. But, it was not an easy road to get here.

I learned the hard way the ins and out of French bureaucracy. But through my research, I discovered some of the easier ways to arrive in Paris if you do not have a company to sponsor you. Here are my tips and tricks that are easier and faster than applying for the carte de séjours residence card.

Student visa

For many, this is the quickest and easiest way to arrive in France. And no, you do not need to be in your 20s or want to go back to college. Most people choose a student visa to study the French language.

There are many language schools in Paris that will qualify for the visa and you will learn French, so it’s a win/win to arriving in the City of Light. Most language schools are much cheaper than an actual university as well, and learning French will be one of the most important things you do to make your life easier in France.

You can see details here about signing up and starting the paperwork process.

Au pair visa

If you are under the age of 30, this might be the easiest route for moving to France. As an au pair in Paris, you will receive a visa to live and work with a French family in France. The family provides you accommodation and other amenities in exchange for caring for their children.

The beauty of this visa is most of the day you are free because normally the kids are in school all day. Do keep in mind that most French children have Wednesdays off from courses, so it will be a day spent with them or taking them to other activities such as music and art classes. If you want an agency to help pair you with a family and give you more information, contact Au Paris Paris


If you already have friends or a lover in Paris then a PACS, a civil-solidarity pact, could be a good route for you. PACS was originally created for same-sex couples as a form of civil marriage before gay marriage was legal in France. But, now anyone can get a PACS as long as they are living in the same household.

You do not need to be in a relationship, but you do need to share a lease with both of your names on it. Through your PACS, your first year you will receive a long-stay visitor visa which does not allow you to work. But, after the first year, this changes, and you will be allowed to work in France. For more information on how to PACS, go to this website

Be sure to read the additional requirements for foreigners, including proof you’re not in another PACS.

Long-stay visa

If you do not need to work in France and have a large sum of money sitting in the bank, then apply for a long-stay visitor visa. This visa gives you a year to come and go as much as you want in France.

The key here is you cannot legally work while on this visa, but if you have a job online or don’t need to work then voila! The most important thing to get this visa is proof of enough income in your assets or bank to prove you do not need to work for a year. The French state will want to see you will not be a drain on the French social system and can support yourself without work.

For more information on a long stay visitor visa, visit here.

And finally a disclaimer, I am by no means an immigration lawyer or consultant but I have paid a lot of consultants and lawyers to get me here, and this is what the processes looked like working with them. But if you are looking for a real pro to elaborate on any of the ideas above, send these consultants at Expat Partners a message. There were the best I worked with and very kind and efficient.

Good luck pursuing your dream!

About the author:

Krystal Kenney is a photographer and writer in Paris, France. She also hosts a podcast called “La Vie Creative,” where she interviews creatives in Paris. She moved to Paris more than eight years ago from Annapolis, Maryland to start a new life. Krystal loves spending her days exploring Paris, and traveling all over Europe. You can see more of her photography and her podcast on her website here. She specializes in wedding, event, and vacation photos.

You can follow her and Miss Paris Photo on Instagram and on Facebook.

You can see more of her work for Dispatches here.

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