Options for Military Families

This post is part of a series called Q&A Tuesday: French Visas. Our resident expert is Laurence Raybois from Americans Moving to France and Rural France Resources. We want to hear from you! Send me your questions or put them in the comments below. We’ll try to get your question answered in an upcoming post.

This month's question:

My husband is in the U.S. Military and will eventually deploy. I am thinking about moving to France temporarily the next time he deploys. I have thought about getting a student visa for myself but I am not sure about how it would work for my daughter if I would need to request a visa for her or if it would be allowed.

It has always been my dream to stay in France or another European country. If it were easier I would love to move there permanently. I took almost two years of the French language but it has been awhile.

Our trip wouldn't be able to take place for at least two years by that time my daughter will be about six years old. If everything falls into the right place then I would love to plan a trip. My daughter has a heart condition she is due for surgery soon but most likely after her next surgery she hopefully will not need anything for a really long time. I would of course plan our trip around her condition with visits before and after and making sure medical insurance is taken care of ahead of time.


In order to qualify for a student visa, you will need to be enrolled in an educational institution.  The student visa will have the advantage of allowing you to work, in addition to studying, without your prospective employer needing to prove that he/she could not find any one else with your skills.  Instead, you will simply need to declare your intention to work.  Also, in the context of a student visa, the work hours would have to amount to no more than 60% of what is considered full time work.  Finally, only salaried employment is allowed with a student visa.  Self-employment is not.

The student visa does not have family privileges attached to it, therefore, you will have to seek another status for your daughter.  She could probably qualify as a visitor, provided you can show that you will have the resources to support the two of you without needing to work, even though your student status will enable you to work.

One of the requirements of any visa is to show that you have health insurance that will cover you while in France for a number of situations, including emergencies and repatriation.  This will apply to both of you, regardless of health status.

Should your daughter need care while you are in France, you should have no problem getting her the needed medical attention.  One word of caution though: when admitted into a public hospital, and after one’s immediate needs have been met, the medical personnel will often appear to drag their feet on getting the patient to be seen by the various in-house specialists, oftentimes resulting in the patient staying in the hospital for substantially longer than was medically necessary, and being charged for all of it.  I have experienced this scenario with a member of my own family and it has been reported to me many times by others.  The common, accusatory assumption is that pubic hospitals get funded on the basis of their occupancy history, thus creating an incentive for the hospital to prolong patients’ stay.  I will stop short of establishing this connection as a fact, allowing my readers, if they so choose, to do that for themselves.