Many foreign nationals aside of visiting, come to France to study or work, or even to settle and live there. However, depending on their nationality and purpose of entry, many of these travelers will have to obtain a France visa first.
A visa itself is in general a stamp or a sticker affixed to an empty page of a passport or travel document of the qualifying person, issued by a French consulate or embassy at traveler’s home country.
Besides the valid French visa, foreign travellers on the way to the French territory must have with them several visa-supporting documents anytime reaching borders of a French territory.
France Visa Application
You have to submit your French Visa application to a French embassy or consulate in their home country, or at a private service provider company responsible to receive visa applications and perform the administrative check of such on behalf of French embassies or consulates, if available in applicant’s home country.
The process of obtaining a France visa is not easy, nor quick. You can complete the application process for a France visa by following the steps listed below:
- Find out if you need a France Visa.
- Decide the type of French visa that you should apply for.
- Collect the required documents for a France visa.
- Choose the right Embassy.
- Schedule an interview.
- Attend the interview.
- Pay the French Visa fee.
Find out if you need a France Visa
If you are planning to visit France, you should be aware that many nationals need a French visa in order to enter its borders, while many others do not. The first step towards obtaining a France visa, is actually finding out whether you need a France visa or not, which all depends in three factors:
- Your nationality.
- The length of your stay.
- The part of France you wish to visit.
Decide the type of French visa that you should apply for
Finding out what type of French visa you need is actually a pretty easy process. First of all, the France visas are categorized into two groups, depending on the length of your planned stay in France:
- France Schengen visa. For people who plan to stay in France for a period of up to three months. A France Schengen visa also permits the holder to visit the other 26 countries of the Schengen area.
- France Long-stay visas. For people who wish to stay in France for more than 3 months, up to a year.
Collect the required documents for a France visa
The requirements for a France visa depend a lot on the type of visa you are applying for and the purpose under which you wish to enter France. After you have found out what type of France visa you need to apply for, then the next step you need to take is to gather the required documents for France visa application.
There are some documents that you will be required to submit, no matter what type of France visa you are applying for and some that are specific to a certain France visa.
Choose the right embassy where to apply for a French Visa
For France Schengen visa applicants
If you are applying for a France Schengen visa, with which you also plan to enter France, just know that you do not need to apply at each embassy of every country you will visit. You will have to apply at the embassy of the country where you will be spending more time. If you will spend three days in Germany, two in Switzerland and five in France, then you will have to apply at the France embassy. On the other hand, if you will be spending the same amount of days in each country you are planning to visit, then you will have to apply at the embassy of the country where you will be landing first.
For France long stay visa applicants
On the other hand, if you are applying for a French long stay visa, then you do not need to figure out where you need to apply, since you will have to apply only at the France embassy or consulate in your home country.
Schedule a France Visa interview
After you decide where you will have to apply, schedule a French visa interview. At most French embassies you are able to schedule the interview online, however in some countries, this might not be an option, so you will have to go at the embassy to schedule the interview.
If you do not book this appointment, then you will not be accepted for the interview.
Attend the interview at the France Embassy
On the day of the interview, show up at the appointment center on time (embassy or consulate). Remember that if you are late even for a few minutes, then they will probably cancel your appointment. Try wearing something a bit more official, but comfortable.
The France visa interview takes around 10 minutes to complete. The consular officer will ask you some questions regarding your trip and purpose of travel to France. Try not to be nervous, and answer honestly.
After the verification of your application, the application form information will be entered into the online system of the consulate or embassy and you will receive a printed copy of your application, which process usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes. After you get the printed form, please make sure to verify all the details are correct and sign the form.
Underage applicants must be accompanied by their mother/father/legal guardian.
Pay the French visa fees
You will have to pay a France visa fee in order for your application to be processed. French visa fees differ from each other based on visa type, age of applicant, nationality etc.
Children aged from 6 to 11 will have to apply a reduced fee of only 35€, (not including French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Mayotte and French Southern and Antarctic Lands)
Thus, some categories of the visa candidates are excluded from paying such fee, some others are required to pay a reduced fee, and the majority of visa candidates are required to pay a regular visa fee.
In addition to the regular visa fee, candidates have to pay also another fee for offering their biometric information (as a part of visa application process).
In addition, when private sub-contracted companies are in charge of receiving French visa applications an additional administrative fee might be applied towards visa candidates.
Visa application fee must be paid upon submitting the visa application. After you complete this payment, you will receive a receipt, which shows that payment has been made, which must be offered amongst other documents of application dossier.
France Schengen Visa
A France Schengen visa is issued to foreigners that wish to visit France, the French territories or another Schengen area country for less than 90 days within a 6-month period.
You can apply for a short-term visa if you are traveling for one of the following purposes:
- To participate in business and professional meeting, or a conference.
- To make a family and private visit.
- To enroll in a short-term training course.
- To enroll in an internship (practicum).
- To transit through the French airport.
Required Documents for France Schengen Visa Application
When applying for a France Schengen visa, keep in mind that you will have to submit some documents at the embassy or consulate when you are applying.
Though the requirements vary from one French visa to another, generally the required documents for a French Schengen visa application are listed as below:
- A passport – issued earliest 10 years before, and valid for minimum 3 months after the end of the visa period, holding at least 2 blank pages in order to be able to affix visa.
- Photocopies of all important pages of the passport (picture, earlier Schengen visas, entry stamps, other).
- A duly completed standard French short-stay visa application form.
- Two recently made passport photos.
- Travel Itinerary – which is a document to confirm having a reserved round trip transportation.
- Proof of accommodation – Hotel or hostel reservation. Also, the host must submit an original .“Declaration d’Accueil” (guarantee document).
- French Travel Medical Insurance – The insurance or 30,000 EUR, has to cover the entire stay in the Schengen area.
Depending on the reasons behind your intended travel and the type of visa you are applying for, you will have to submit some of the following documents.
How Many Times Can I Enter France With a Schengen Visa?
Based on the times a person is allowed to enter Schengen and the number of countries a person is allowed to enter, the France Schengen visa is grouped as following:
- Uniform Visas. There are two types of these visas:
- Single entry – which allows its holder to enter once in the Schengen area.
- Multiple entry – the holder of this type of visa is allowed to enter France and the other countries of the Schengen area multiple times.
- Limited Territorial Validity Visas (LTV) – are the visas that do not allow their holder to visit any other Schengen country, aside of France when issued by the French embassy or consulate in their home country.
France Schengen Visa Types
France Airport transit visa
AFrance Airport Transit visa, is issued to individuals who will transit through a French airport to another country, without entering into the territory of France. It is valid for 24 hours. Whether you need a Transit visa to pass through France, it all depends on the nationality you hold and whether you are in possession of any other type of visas.
France Tourist Visa
The France Tourist visa is issued to persons who want to visit France with the purpose of tourism for a period shorter than 90 days. This type of visa, which is also known as a Schengen Visa, permits you to stay in France for 90 days at most per a period of 180 days.
Unless the visa is marked as a Limited Territorial Validity visa, you are permitted to travel with this visa to the other Schengen countries within the period of the visa validity.
France Tourist Visa Requirements
In addition to the standard required documents for any French visa application, you should also submit the following to apply for a Tourist visa for France
- Travel Itinerary – which is a document that shows what you will be doing in France, when you will arrive and when you will leave, and includes proof of arranged transportation as i.e. plane tickets booking and hotel booking.
- Proof of Accommodation in France – which can be a hotel/ hostel booking, or a letter of invitation if you are planning to stay over at friends or relatives.
- Travel Insurance – which must cover the whole area of Schengen territory, and valid for the DROM/CTOM if you are planning to visit those too. The insurance must cover the whole period of your stay in France.
- Means of subsistence – or proof that you have the financial means to cover your whole stay in France and other Schengen countries if you are planning to. This could be a bank statement no older than three days covering the last three months or a scholarship certificate stating how much you will be receiving during your whole stay.
France Visitor Visa
The France visitor visa makes it possible for non-EU family members of French residents that live outside of France come to France and meet their parents, children or spouse. This permits you to stay in France for 90 days at most within a period of 180 days.
France Business Visa
The France business visa is for applicants who will be gainfully employed during their stay in France. These applicants have to provide a Temporary Work Permit with their visa applications at the embassy or consulate of France in their home country.
The categories following fall under the France short-stay business visa:
- Business visit.
- Professional training.
- Worker in the EU on a temporary posting in France.
- Domestic staff.
What are the requirements for the French Business Visa?
- For business visits: Formal invitation letter from the French company, stating purposes and frequency of the business trip
- For professional training: “convention de stage” – which is a training agreement completed by the host and stamped by the DIRECCTE (French Department of Trade and Employment)
- For Workers in the EU on a temporary posting in France:
- A contract of employment signed by the worker
- Employer’s attestation which must specify from which date to which the employee will be remaining in France
- A1 form or E101 form obtained from the HM Revenue & Customs, as well as proof that this form has been requested from the HMRC and the NIN card.
- For Domestic staff:
- Working certificate – less than three months old
- Letter from employer – stating the position the applicant holds at its company as well as for how long he or she has been working there
- A1 form or E101 form obtained from the HM Revenue & Customs, as well as proof that this form has been requested from the HMRC and the NIN card.
- Contract of employment
- Employer’s valid passport
Short term study visa for France
The French short-term study visa is for international students who wish to come to France under study purposes that are shorter than 90 days. The short-stay study visa is not issued to students who want to attend a university or college, since one semester is at least 4 months long. These students have to apply for a French long term student visa instead.
French Cultural, Sportsperson and Religious orders visa
Sportsmen or sportswomen that are planning to participate in some kind of training or participate in sport activities will have to apply for the French Cultural visa first. Prior to their entry in France, these individuals will have to obtain a work authorization.
France Temporary Work Permit
A France Temporary Permit is a must for people coming to France to engage in paid activity under a French Schengen visa.
Only those coming to work in France under the following purposes are exempt from this requirement:
- sporting, cultural, artistic and scientific events.
- colloquia, seminars and trade shows.
- cinematographic, audiovisual, entertainment and phonographic production and dissemination, as an artist or technical staff.
- modeling and artistic pose.
- services to the person (domestic worker) during the stay in France of a particular employer.
- auditing and expertise missions in IT, management, finance, insurance, architecture and engineering as a contracted employee.
- teaching as a visiting professor.
If you are coming under a short-stay professional visa to France for any other purpose then you will have to get a temporary work permit. The work permit has to be obtained by the employer at the DIRECCTE (French Ministry of Labor). The processing of the work permit takes 10 to 15 days. Usually the employer receives the forms stamped by mail, after this period.
The form then has to be sent back to the applicant, since he/she will be asked to present this document at the France port of entry.
What Can I do in Case of a French Schengen Visa Refusal?
In case of a refusal of a Schengen visa for France you can submit a request for a re-evaluation of the visa application to the French embassy or consulate. Such request should be done if you have strong reasons to believe that the visa refusal was unjust.
The appeal against the decision should be submitted 2 months since the day of the refusal, in French, and the supporting documents attached to the case file. The results of the appeal could be an indirect refusal (no answer in 2 months), or a direct refusal by the commission.
The applicant can make an appeal for cancellation of that decision in no longer than 2 months at the Administrative Court of Nantes (only if visa was rejected from the appeal, or when ministers also confirm the visa rejection).
Can my French Schengen Visa be Revoked?
A French Schengen visa can be revoked, if you engage in:
- Working without having a work permit.
- Being involved in actions considered of danger to the public order.
- Attempting to settle in France
If your French Schengen visa is revoked, you can appeal against the decision at the Prefecture and/or at the Minstry of the Interior, who may re-evaluate the decision for refusal.
France visas for French Overseas Territories
There are different regulations to enter and stay into a French territory, depending if the foreigner has a regular (R), diplomatic (D), service/official (S), or a special (SP) passport. Mainly, holders of regular passports cannot enter any French territory without getting the visa first.
French visas include visas given to enter and stay in France, DROM or CTOM (each territory might apply different visa requirements and regulations from each other). However, a French Schengen visa, does not entitle its holder with entrance into DROM or CTOM.
When e foreigner has a VLS – TS long-stay visa (marked “CESEDA R.311-3”) this means that the visa is equal to a residence permit. In this case, the holder is not required to apply for the residence permit for the period of visa validity. Such holders should, however, go to the Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration (the French Immigration and Integration Office (OFII)) to register for authentication (legitimization) of their visa – residence permit, in the first 3 months of entering the French territory
When a foreigner is given a long-stay visa marked “Carte de séjour à solliciter” (Eng. Residence permit to be applied for), this means that they must apply for a residence permit at the respective French local authority “Préfecture” in 2 months of entering the French territory. They have to also get the residence permit in the first 3 months of entering.
France Visa Processing Time
Once again, even the processing time for your France visa depends on the type of visa you have applied for, as well as for the part of France you wish to visit.
You will get a reply whether your French Schengen visa application has been approved or rejected within five to 20 working days.
Whereas, if you have applied for a France long-stay visa, you will get a reply for 15 to 20 days, or up to 2 months in some specific cases.
If you apply for a short-stay visa to visit the French Overseas territories and collectivities, then the processing time is 5 working days to 3 weeks. On the other hand, long-stay visas to these places could get up to 2 months to be processed.
Can I Work on a French Visa?
Naturally, French short-stay visas are not meant for getting a paid job. Foreigners wishing to get a long-term visa for getting a paid job in the French territory, they need to first find a sponsoring employer who will provide for them an approved (stamped) work contract by the DIRECCTE, as this document is required for visa application.
Foreigners wishing to get a long-term visa to get a paid job as an either artist or a sportsperson in championships, they must have a work permit taken by an employer/hosting institution stamped by the necessary French authority, as this document is required for visa application.
Quick facts about France
There are boundless travelers who consider French territories as their primary choice of destination to visit each year, and many others see it as their future home where they plan to build a new life.
France is a land of 41 protected historical spots, 8,000 museums, 500 festivals, countless theatrical and dance shows, limitless concerts and art exhibitions. The country uses liberty, equality, fraternity, and secularism inclusion as its key principles of life.
A country that hosts many scientific events, where education is considered one of the most essential elements of economic, social and environmental development of the country, with a very hospitable integration process for foreign persons who seek to live there permanently, everybody can swiftly incorporate their lives into the country’s rights and responsibilities.