Some of you might think that because I'm French we can just show up in my dear country and stay. Well, NO! You have to go through a "little" immigration process before leaving the States and once you're in France. But no worries this was not as intense/heavy as the American one...If you had to go through that without a lawyer you know what I'm talking about! (maybe in an other post)
Here is a "non exhaustive list" of the French Immigration Process for American spouses of French nationals.
1- First of all, make sure you have your "livret de famille" this is the proof that your marriage is "real/legal" in France.
2- You need to get a Long stay visa for spouses of French nationals to do so, you have to set up an appointment 3 months before leaving with your French Ambassy. Hubby had to go to San Francisco...round trip day! They'll send you back the passport with the visa in it. Now you have your visa in hands, Attention! it is written that you can stay and work for a year but it is not quite true...
3- You still have to register at the OFII by sending l'Attestation OFII within the first 3 month of your stay in France. Make sure to read that document carefully and follow directions (Passport Stamped when you entered in France or Schengen Zone, no travelling in Europe before receiving La Vignette OFII). Why do they want you to register if you already have a visa? In my opinion, they want to make sure you are really living in France and they want you to go through the "intégration" process.
4- Which starts by giving you an appointment "La journée d'Accueil et d'intégration" where you'll watch a film describing the values of France, they'll make sure you're healthy (Xray's) and will test your French. At the end you 'll have to sign a contract CAI "Le contract d'accueil et d'intégration" which summarizes the film and states all of your "obligations" as a temporary resident de La République Française. Once you've done that they'll add in your passport accross the page of your visa "La Vignette OFII". Now you are legally allow to be here, (Visa long séjour + Vignette OFII = Carte de séjour) you can stay, work and travel for the duration of your visa. Attention.. another trick, if you want to renew your Carte de Séjour or apply for Carte de Résident you'll have to do it 2 months before your visa ends and make sure to fulfill the "Obligations" stated on the CAI.
5- Which Includes to be present at "La Journée de Formation Civique", "Une Journée d'Information sur la vie en France", "Une journée d'information spécifique sur l'accès au service public". I think "La formation Linguistique" is the most important one, depending on your level you can get up to 350hrs of french language class with a test at the end : DILF (Diplome Initial de Langue Française). You must pass this test to renew your "Carte de Séjour" or apply for "Carte de Résident"...
As you can see it has been a journey... We arrived in France mid September, Hugh got his Vignette OFII at the start of November and he'll do the DILF test mid February = 5 Month
It is faster and cheapper to get your carte de séjour in France vs USA, but here you can't really work untill you're comfortable with the language!