Update to FRA11955 of 20 October 1992 on the issuance of exit visas; the possibility of obtaining an exit visa at the airport; the meaning of the "VV" stamp in a passport; the necessity of obtaining an exit visa to travel to the United Kingdom by train; the maximum period of time a permanent resident can be outside French territory; recourses available to a person if he/she loses his/her permanent resident status after being abroad longer than permitted [FRA38459.FE]

A representative from the consular section of the Embassy of France in Ottawa stated during a 21 January 2002 telephone interview that prefectures do not issue "exit visas"; they issue "return visas" (visas de retour) that allow foreigners holding "receipts" (récépissés) and waiting for French residence permits to travel outside France before they have obtained their residence permits. Return visas are rare and issued mainly to refugees who return to their country of origin with a safe-conduct document (France 21 Jan. 2002). With the approval of the prefecture in question, French consulates abroad can also issue "return visas," officially called "entry visas" (visas d'entrée), which allow foreigners who are waiting for residence permits but have lost their travel documents to re-enter France (ibid.).

The representative also stated that a [permanent] residence cardholder can travel outside France without an "exit visa" (ibid.). However, he/she cannot stay in other Schenghen countries for more than three months per six-month period (ibid.). If a holder of a French residence card stays in another Schenghen country for more than three months, the host country can deport him (ibid.). Furthermore, the holder of a residence card cannot be outside the French territory for more than three consecutive years (ibid.). If the cardholder returns to France after being abroad for more than three consecutive years, his/her residence permit is automatically seized and he/she must leave French territory immediately (ibid.). A person in this situation has no recourse to reclaim his/her confiscated resident card (ibid.). The representative stated that he did not know the meaning of the "VV" stamped in passports (ibid.).

According to the French SOS-Net Website, [translation] "the largest public legal database in France," a residence permit is automatically withdrawn if a residence card is voided after the holder is outside French territory for more than three consecutive years (2002). If a residency permit (resident card) is withdrawn, the holder must leave French territory under threat of penalty (SOS-Net 2002). He/she can receive assistance for his/her return, should he/she go back to France (ibid.). Certain recourses are available to this person if he/she feels that his/her residence permit was withdrawn unjustly (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


France. 21 January 2002. Consular section, Embassy of France, Ottawa. Telephone interview with a representative.

SOS-Net. 2002. "La carte de résident." http://www.sos-net.eu.org/etrangers/externe/titresej.htm [Accessed 21 Jan. 2002]