Going on Sabbatical

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.

This month’s question:

I’m an academic planning a year-long sabbatical in France. My question is: what kind of Visa do I need and does that visa cover my spouse and children? If not, what type of visa do they need? 


The visa that you will need as an academic planning a year-long sabbatical in France will depend on what you intend to do while there.

If your intention is to spend your time doing independent research/studies that have not been formalized between you and your employer in the US, and for which you will not be compensated by a French institution, then a one-year visitor’s visa will suffice.  You will need to prove that you will have the means to support yourself in France without needing to seek paid work there, since this status does not allow its recipients to work.  Your spouse and children will not benefit from your status, but can apply for it independently from you.  Or your spouse could request a completely different status enabling him/her to work in France.

As an academic, you may be hoping to get a formal research position in France.  If that’s the case, then you will need to get a scientist’s visa.  One key advantage of this option is that, unlike the visitor’s status, it comes with family benefits, and would result in your spouse (and minor children) being automatically allowed to not only come with you, but work as well while in France, without him/her needing to apply for a work visa.

If you are being sent to France by your academic institution specifically so that you may accomplish a specific task, then you may also be able to benefit from the “employé en mission” status, which carries the same family benefits as the scientist’s visa.

So the key is to plan ahead!

Laurence Raybois Consulting © 2015

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