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So I have a passport that is visa free in Schengen, but I received a year long visa for France. I just found out a friend is getting married before the start of the visa and want to attend obviously. Can I just enter as a "tourist", then slide into the start of the long stay visa? Or would I have to leave and come back?

(I saw dupes of this question but they are from people who don't have visa-free travel in the Schengen zone)

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2 Answers 2

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Official answer from the Consulate in DC

Dear Sir,

You can enter before on your 90/180 days allowance BUT

<<Or would I need to leave the schengen area and re-enter to get a valid stamp matching the visa start date?>>

You will have to leave the Schengen area (visiting UK for example) to have your long-stay Visa activated.

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French long-stay visas typically need to be validated within three months of entering France (there are exceptions, including working holiday visas). This used to entail a medical checkup and getting a sticker but can now be done online. What happens if you exceed that delay is not completely clear. In theory your presence could be deemed illegal which would in turn create many problems down the line but I have also heard of people who submitted their application a little late and didn't suffer any consequences.

Note that this is three months after entering France, not the Schengen area. A long visa-free visit elsewhere in the Schengen area before could therefore create some difficulties because it would prevent you to use your entry stamp to document your date of entry or could make it appear as if you went past the three-month deadline. A week is not long enough to be a problem.

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  • My visa is working holiday, so no need to validate anything I think. But good information to know thank you! I will call the consulate directly to clear this up
    – 1mike12
    Sep 28, 2021 at 17:41

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