Do you need a visa to travel to France? What are the relating conditions and procedures? Find out in this article.
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 different nationalities, whether or not they are holders of a resident permit in France or in another Schengen country, 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
- you are not a family member of a EU, EEA or Swiss national.
Types of visas
There are two main types of visas for France, namely the short stay (Schengen) visa and the long stay visa. Other visas are also available, especially for students, under certain conditions.
First of all, you have to determine which visa best suits your needs according to the length and purpose of your stay in France. Note that rules may differ for the French metropolis and its overseas territories. Therefore, you have to specify your exact destination when applying for the visa.
In all cases:
- you will require a special visa if you intend to make a maximum of 90 days stay in the country
- you will be entitled to a long stay visa if you are planning to make a more than 90 days stay.
Short stay (Schengen) visa
If you are eligible to 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 more than 90 days stays in France. 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 resident permit. Note that your resident permit will only be valid if your visa bears the following mention: “Carte de séjour à solliciter à l’arrivée en France”.
Long stay student visa
Students having to stay in France for more than 6 months during their studies have to apply for a long stay student visa. Once they are in France, they may apply for a one year resident permit which can be renewed at the nearest prefecture to their place of residence. Thereafter, they have to apply for a long stay resident permit within two months following their arrival.
Short stay student visa
Students who wish to improve their French or study it as a language, or enroll in any other study program may obtain a short stay visa. This visa is non renewable and is recognized as a resident permit for a maximum of three months.
Temporary long stay visa
The temporary long stay visa applies to students who wish to register in a higher education institution in France for a 3 to 6 months period. 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.
Foreign students may also enroll in a French “grande école” or university via an entrance examination. They are therefore required to apply for a “étudiant-concours” visa which will allow them to enroll in the higher education institution of their choice if they are selected. Thus, they do not have to go back to their home country to apply for a renewable one-year resident permit.
To apply for any of these visas, you must produce the following:
- a valid travel document (issued less than 10 years before and recognized 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 expiry date)
- a readable visa (which must be comprehensible 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).
Note that documents to be produced vary from one nationality to another. So it is best to inquire with the French embassy or consulate in your home country beforehand. As regards foreign students, they 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 (around 650 € per month)
- a scholarship certificate (if any).
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.
Diplomatie.gouv.fr – FAQ Visas www.diplomatie.gouv.fr
Service Public – Visa fees vosdroits.service-public.fr
Office Français d’Immigration et d’Intégration (OFII) www.ofii.fr
Campus France www.campusfrance.org