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I'm American and currently applying for a Student Long Stay Visa in France (>90 days; it's a 2 year Master's program). My visa appointment with the consulate is in mid-July. My school starts on September 16th, and I've stated on the application that I plan to go to France on September 1st.

Well it turns out that it would be better for me to go to France August 1st. I was wondering if it's possible that I could go to France on a tourist visit (which does not require a visa for stays <90 days) and then take a short weekend trip to the UK (at the end of August) before returning and presenting them with my student visa?

I know that I technically cannot combine a long stay visa with a tourist visit. However this isn't technically combining the two as I would be leaving the Schengen territory and re-entering, right?

I can't easily ask to make the start of my visa August 1st because my boyfriend recently got the attestation d'accueil (proof of accommodation for the first 3 months of my stay) validated by the mairie and the start date for this document is on September 1st.

Thanks in advance for your responses!

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    Make sure you have proof of travel to UK, immigration in France may want to see that. But yes that's fine, you can enter from anywhere outside Schengen. – BritishSam Jun 28 at 7:16
  • @BritishSam, please post that as an answer. – Willeke Jun 28 at 8:14
  • I disagree with BritishSam. Immigration officers within and outside Schengen are very aware of people trying to manipulate the system in ways described by the O/P. Arrival in France before your visa is valid will raise concerns that you may stay beyond its expiry date, coupled with the fact that you appear to have a boy friend residing in France. A short trip to the UK is a common ruse that UK immigration are wise to. They will not see you as a genuine visitor but as someone seeking to circumvent Schengen rules. Source: Have seen people try this and get deported. – canonacer Jun 28 at 9:28
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    "I know that I technically cannot combine a long stay visa with a tourist visit." Do you have a reference for this claim? It is one that is often made, but we have never been able to trace it to any actual Schengen legislation, nor do I recall ever hearing of someone actually getting into trouble for switching from visa-free to long-stay while still within the zone. – Henning Makholm Jun 28 at 10:22
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    @lana Did you end up entering early? How was your interaction with the border control officer? – Ozzy Aug 9 at 20:50
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Old question but I see no one answered so I'm going to add some information I believe is pertinent. I received the following email from the Austrian BMI regarding entering visa-fee before a Visa D is valid. Keep in mind this is a translation from the original email in german:

If the visa-free stay is short or the travel purpose for the visa-free stay is different from the one for the visa D stay (eg first tourism, then study/employment), the entry would be lawful. Whereby a visa-free entry (observing the rule: 90 days per period of 180 days) and the subsequent stay with a visa D is seamlessly possible.

Suggesting that a third-country national with visa-free privileges may enter before validity date on the D Visa and that a "Visa Run" to the UK is not technically necessary

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