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I am American, and currently an assistant de langue (language assistant) in France. I have a special visa, called the assistant de langue/lecteur visa, from September 10th to May 10th. On the visa for number of entries/(nombre d’entrées) it says MULTI.

I need to validate my visa with OFII (immigration office) within 3 months of my visa start date (so by December 10th). This involves submitting documents, then getting an attestation de réception de l'OFII (proof they got my documents and are processing my visa). This piece of paper allows me to travel freely within those 3 months, even outside the Schengen Zone.

However, let's assume that I dont have this piece of paper, and I want to go to England on October 20th. Since the UK isn't in the Schengen Zone, there is confusion about whether or not I can re-enter France freely 2 weeks later (November 3rd).

Here's the issue: my visa for France is what was stamped when I entered CDG airport, but Americans can travel freely in the UK and the Schengen Zone for 90 days on a tourist visa. I'm not sure which rules actually apply for traveling to the UK here. Since my visa was stamped, I need to validate it with OFII. While OFII allows me to travel freely in the Schengen Zone for 3 months, I would be going to the UK. And to re-enter France, normally you need to have your OFII validation letter (the one I mentioned). But, Americans also have the 90-day rule.

So which one takes precedence here? Can I freely travel to the UK in the 3-month period that OFII allows, or because I would exit the Schengen Zone do I need the attestation that OFII received my paperwork to re-enter? I'm unsure if I need the attestation or not to re-enter France if I go outside of the Schengen Zone in those 3 months.

There are about 2,500 other language assistants who are non-European who are all asking themselves the same question, so I'm hoping to have a solid response for them. My current assumption is that because the visa for France is what was stamped, if I travel outside the Schengen Zone, I will absolutely need the attestation even if I'm in the 90-day tourist period because the visa stamp takes precedence.

Some people have gone to the UK and come back with no issue, but in the past others have been denied entry to France and stuck at border control. So obviously this is a tricky situation.

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    What does your visa say for "nombre d'entrées/number of entries"? Were any of the people stuck at the border either visa-exempt or in possession of a valid type-C visa? – phoog Oct 2 '18 at 14:24
  • Hi @phoog, I added this information to the question body at the top. It says MULTI. – Chris Cirefice Oct 3 '18 at 5:45
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You're a US national with a French multi-entry working visa. You entered France in September, and you have presumably submitted your documentation to OFII already. You are currently awaiting the 'attestation de reception' from OFII, at which time you will get your appointment and your vignette.

You want to leave France in and return in November, about 1.5 months after your initial entry.

As far I have been told by OFII, your visa alone (without the attestation) will let you pass at ports of entry for the first 3 months, they do not expect the attestation at the border, nor was I ever asked for it. You will have to convince the UK that you also intend to return to France, but with the combination of your nationality and your visa, I don't believe this will be too difficult.

I entered France in October 2015 (US passport holder, D-visa MULTI). I submitted my documentation to OFII upon arrival. I then left the EU for work reasons in December, returning just a few days after Christmas 2015. In that time, the attestation de reception (with the appointment date) was mailed to my home in France, and my appointment passed. I was let back into France with no problems, showing only my visa.

Even having missed the appointment, I was told to simply wait for another one to be mailed to me. I didn't end up having an appointment until Feburary 2016.

In your case, I do not believe that you will be required to show the attestation at the border, nor do I believe you will have any issues entering in September and going to the UK for 2 weeks in November. As a US national, you face slightly less scrutiny than nationals of countries who require a visa to visit. Even so, I believe that you and these people could both leave France and re-enter under these circumstances.

Simply put, I do not believe that the border control is 'synced' with OFII in any meaningful way, so they would have no way of knowing whether your appointment has been taken or not. Some prefectures take longer than others (some taking months). As long as you are within the 3 month window and have submitted your docs to OFII already, I believe you will be fine.

If you want to be especially doubly careful, you could keep a receipt of your mailed documents (recommended letter, for example), but I do not believe this would ever be asked.

Source: CampusFrance

During the three months following your arrival in France, you are authorised to travel outside of France and to leave the Schengen area without an OFII sticker. After that, the OFII sticker, or the OFII attestation of receipt in the absence of the fomer, is mandatory for travelling outside of France.

tl;dr With an entry date of 10 September, you are free to travel in and out of France and Schengen until 10 December.

  • As a US passport holder, OP could just enter/exit the Schengen area through another country to avoid any scrutiny after the first 3 months. – JonathanReez Supports Monica Nov 24 '18 at 22:35

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