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.
What is a France Visa?
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.
In order for one to be able to obtain a visa, specific requirements must be met before they travel to France in complete harmony to the specific visa category and the purpose of traveling. 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.
Who Needs a France Visa?
Nationals of the Schengen Area or European Union member countries and countries that have visa free regime agreement with the Schengen Area, do not need a visa in order to be able to enter France.
However, one cannot enter French oversea territories with a Schengen visa, nor can a national of these territories enter France.
France Visa Types
Based on the period of time that a visa allows the traveler to stay in France, there are two types of French visa, as following:
- French Short-stay visas – valid for 90 days
- French Long-stay visas for stays between 3 months and one year
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.
Working 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.
France Visa Application Process
The application process for a French visa is similar for every other type of visa. The applicant has to submit their 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.
When private companies are in charge of collecting French visa applications, they usually involve an additional fee towards candidates for visa (for the administrative service), aside from the regular visa application fee.
The visa application has to be submitted only during a visa interview. The interview should be appointed online only, times before the planned travel date. The candidate has to be present alone in person to submit the visa application required documents, except for minors who are permitted to attend the interview accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Visa processing time can be different, depending for which visa the candidate is applying.
France Visa Application Required Documents
There are some standard requirements to apply for any French visa that every applicant must fulfill in order to be able to obtain a French Visa. These requirements vary on the visa type and the nationality of the applicant.
Standard required documents include the following:
- Passport – which must not be older than 10 years, recognized by the French authorities, and be valid for at least three months beyond applicant’s planned stay in France.
- Visa application form – which has to be duly completed and signed by the candidate (aged 18 and over), while for minors (below the age of 18) the form may be signed by the candidate’s parents or legal guardian (who should attach their ID copies to the form).
- Photos – must have the following format: recent, identical, colored, uncolored background, 3.5 x 4.5 cm, head to chin, forward faced and unedited.
- France Travel Medical Insurance – every foreigner wishing to enter France, for no matter how long, must have travel medical insurance, which covers his or her entire period of stay in France.
- Travel Itinerary – that is a detailed traveling plan of the applicant from their home country to France and vice versa.
- Means of Subsistence – you will have to show proof that you have enough financial means to cover your entire period of stay in France.
These documents as well as the supporting visa documents have to be sent in original + photocopies of each, and at the end the embassy gives the candidate the originals while keeps only photocopies of such documents.
Visa Information sheets are usually available for the French visa candidates, to guide them about the list of documents required to get a specific visa. Such instructive papers are either available in the French embassy or consulate website, or/and in a printed form at their entrances.
Documents Required at French port of entry
Every single foreigner entering into France must keep with them some specific documents, since the officials at the port of entry will ask for them, and make the final decision whether the traveler shall be allowed to enter or not.
These documents are as following:
- A reserved accommodation in French territory (hotel booking, letter of invitation to stay over at a friend or relative etc.)
- A document showing the reason for traveling
- A reserved transportation ticket to show that the traveler has the intention to return to their homeland (and not to settle- live permanently in the French or Schengen territory)
- A document showing that traveler had the financial means to cover the living or study costs during their stay in France or the Schengen Area
- A covered medical insurance for any possible sudden health problem or accident while abroad, as well as to return to the home country of not less than 30,000 Euros
French Visa Fee
No same rule applies to all French visa types and to all foreign applicants, just as the France visa fees vary from one type of visa to another. 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.
The standard fee for France Schengen visas is 60 Euros and for long stay visas is 99 Euros, however there may be exemptions and special cases of fee reduction.
Despite 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 visa applications (instead of embassies or consulates) an additional administrative fee might be applied towards visa candidates.
Visa application fee must be paid upon submitting the visa application. After the candidate completes this payment, he will receive a receipt, which shows that payment has been made, which must be offered amongst other documents of application dossier.