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Visas for France

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If you are planning to move to France, you are probably wondering whether you need a visa or not. In general, foreign nationals require a visa to travel to France, unless they come from the European Union, European Economic Area or Switzerland.

Note that there are two types of visas for France. These vary according to your nationality, whether or not you are a holder of a resident permit in France or in another Schengen country, as well as the length and place of stay in the country, etc..

 Good to know:

You will therefore need a visa if:

  • you come from a non-EU and EEA country or Switzerland, and
  • you are not a family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss national.

Types of visas in France

There are two main types of visas necessary to enter France, namely the short stay (Schengen) visa and the long stay visa. Other visas are also available, especially for students, under specific conditions.

The first step is to determine which visa best suits your needs, depending on the length and purpose of your stay in France. Note that rules may differ for the French metropolis and its overseas territories. Therefore, you must specify your exact destination when applying for the visa.

In all cases:

  • you will require a special visa if you intend to stay for a maximum of 90 days in the country
  • you will need a long stay visa if you are planning to stay for more than 90 days

Short stay (Schengen) visa

If you are eligible for the short stay visa for France, you are also allowed to move freely through the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days over a period of 180 days.

Long stay visa

Logically, the long stay visa applies to those who stay for in France for more than 90 days. Once you have arrived in the country, you are required to register at the nearest Office Français d’Immigration et d’Intégration (OFII) to your residence. You will then obtain a residence permit. Note that your residence permit will only be valid if your visa bears the following sentence: “Carte de séjour à solliciter à l’arrivée en France”.

French student visa

Long stay student visa

Students that need to stay in France for more than 6 months for their studies have to apply for a long stay student visa. Once they arrive in France, they may apply for a one year residence permit which can be renewed at the nearest prefecture to their place of residence. Thereafter, they have to apply for a long stay residence permit within two months following their arrival.

Short stay student visa

Students who want to improve their command of the French language or enrol in any other short-term study program may obtain a short stay visa. This visa is non-renewable and is recognised as a residence permit for a maximum of three months.

Temporary long stay visa

The temporary long stay visa applies to students who wish to enrol in a higher education institution in France for 3-6 months. They are free to choose between private and public higher education institutions. However, the visa is non-renewable and serves as a resident permit for that period of time only.

Étudiant-concours visa

Foreign students may also enrol in a French “grande école” or university via an entrance examination. They are therefore required to apply for a “étudiant-concours” visa which allows them to enrol once selected. Thus, they do not have to go back to their home country to apply for a renewable one-year residence permit.

Formalities

To apply for any of these visas, you must produce the following documents:

  • a valid travel document (issued less than 10 years prior and recognised by French authorities, and, in the case of a short stay, it has to be valid for at least 3 months following the visa's expiration date)
  • a readable visa (which must be understandable to French authorities)
  • proof of residence
  • proof of sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in the country
  • proof of health insurance (including repatriation)
  • proof of accommodation (which has to be validated by the Mayor of the town where you will be living)

The documents that are required to be produced vary from one nationality to another. It is best to enquire with the French embassy or consulate in your home country beforehand. Foreign students are required to produce the following (along with other documents which may be requested – to be confirmed with the French authorities in their home country):

  • a passport (which should be valid throughout their stay in the country)
  • proof of registration or pre-registration in a higher education institution in France
  • proof of sufficient funds to support themselves during their stay and studies (approximately €650 per month)
  • a scholarship certificate (if applicable).

Fees

In some cases, visas for France are free of charge. Nevertheless, you will find information on the relating fees in the useful links provided below.

 Useful links:

Diplomatie.gouv.fr – FAQ Visas
Service Public – Visa fees
Office Français d’Immigration et d’Intégration (OFII)
Campus France

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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