Visas for France

Visas for France
Updated 2019-08-15 12:51

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.

A quick way to find out if you will need a visa to travel to France is to use France's official Visa Wizard.

Good to know:

You will need a visa if:
you come from a non-EU and EEA country or Switzerland, or
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 France's 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 visas

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 six months for their studies must 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 prefecture nearest to their place of residence. After that, 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 only.

Étudiant-concours Visa

International 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.


To apply for any of these visas, you must produce the following documents:
a valid travel document (issued less than ten years prior and recognised by French authorities, and, in the case of a short stay, it has to be valid for at least three 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 required vary from one nationality to another. It is best to enquire with the French embassy or consulate in your home country beforehand. International 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 â¬650 per month)
a scholarship certificate (if applicable).

Visa fees in France

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: ' 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.