Long stay visa reform (students, workers, visitors, spouses of EU nationals)
Since June 1st, 2009 a new regulation has changed the rules for long stay visas. The regulation applies to long stay visas for Students, Workers, Spouses of french and EU nationals and joining families of all long stay visas that intend to live in France more than 3 months. This new visa may take from 10 to 15 business days (2 to 3 weeks) to be issued if your files are complete, and depending on your nationality. (the minimum 10 business days apply to all nationality, including us citizens). Therefore, and as any visa application, we strongly advise you to apply for a visa at least 1 month before your planned trip (but no more than 3 months before).
These visas are issued for stays from 4 to 12 months in France.
They will be valid as a resident permit ("Carte de Séjour") up to your first year of stay in France. You will have to apply for a resident permit ("Carte de Séjour") at the local government ("Préfecture") only if you intend to stay for more than a year (in this case, check your situation with the Prefecture during the last 3 months of your long stay visa)
You will have to register at the local branch of the OFII sending back a form you will have provided with your visa application and that will be stamped by the consulate if your visa has been granted. (this form can be downloaded in each relevant sections of this website and is only available in french)
This procedure doesnt apply to Algerian nationals (there is a specific agreement between France and Algeria in various fields, including visa applications)