Which Visa to France should you ask for?

Visa to FranceThe type of Visa to France to apply depends on the purpose of your trip and the duration of your stay. Visas to France are not issued here in France. They are issued in your country. So you must apply for it in your country of origin or in your current country of residence. As a general rule, you must apply for a visa between 8 and 12 weeks before the date of your arrival in France.

Visas are valid for a specific duration, which begins on the date of arrival in France. You must select your prime goal to select the Visa to France that best suits you.

There are 6 different types of visa to France.

Indeed, in this section of the article, we will present 6 types of visas for France, namely:

  • Airport transit visa – VTA 

This visa is valid for nationals of certain states transiting
by France to go to another country.

  • Short stay visa – VCS

This type of visa is usually issued for tourism trips,
business trips or family visits.

  • Long stay visa – VLS

For any stay in France lasting more than 90 days,
you must first obtain a long-stay visa
if your nationality does not exempt you from it.

  • Visa of short stay with student mention

This visa is intended for students whose definitive registration in a French educational institution is subject to the success of an examination or a preliminary interview.

  • Circulation visa

Its validity is from one to five years, it authorizes a foreigner to stay
up to 3 months in France, every 6 months.

  • Schengen visa

Schengen visas are travel documents affixed to your passport and which allow you to stay in the territory of the 26 Member States of the Schengen area for a limited period of time.

1 – Visa to France for vacations

If you are a citizen of a Member State of the European Union, the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you do not need to apply for a visa to France since you benefit from the principle of free movement of persons. For other nationals, a distinction must be made between 2 types of stay:


You must ask the French consulate or embassy for a transit visa before your departure. Your passport containing the visa must be valid for the duration of your stay in France.


You must apply for a “Schengen” visa which allows you to travel not only in France but also in other member countries of the European Union, the EEA and Switzerland. Your passport must also be valid throughout your stay.


You must apply for and obtain your visa before leaving for France, otherwise you will be illegally resident and may be subject to a removal order.


2 – Visa to France to stay and Settle


If you wish to settle in France, you must enter the territory regularly. This is why you must, before your departure, apply for a long-stay visa with the French consular authorities of the country where you live.

If you requested a long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit (VLS-TS) :

You will also be required to validate it within 3 months of your arrival in France directly online on the site: https://administration-etrangers-en-france.interieur.gouv.fr or at the French Office for Immigration and Integration (OFII). The visa gives the same rights as the residence permit once validated.

For the long-stay visa bearing the mention “residence permit to be requested” :

Requested for the purpose of settling in, your visa may include the words “residence permit to be requested on arrival in France”. You will then be required to apply for a residence permit from the prefecture of your department of residence within 2 months of your entry into the national territory, under penalty of being in an irregular situation.



The residence permits recognized by French foreigners’ law are varied and cover various situations: “private and family life”, “student”, “sick foreigner”, “employee/temporary worker”, etc. These residence permits are valid for 1 year.

Applications for residence permits are made to the prefecture. These are individual and personal requests. When you submit your title application file, a receipt will be issued to you. This receipt is the only proof of your application for a residence permit. It allows you to stay regularly in the territory while your permit application is being studied.

You must download the file corresponding to your situation, then send it along with the supporting documents to the address indicated.

Do not hesitate to get help from an immigration lawyer to complete the application form for a residence permit!

If you believe that the prefect has wrongly refused you a residence permit, you can form:

* a formal appeal to the Prefect who made the decision and/or a hierarchical appeal to the Ministry of the Interior, preferably within 2 months of notification of the decision to refuse to issue. In case of absence of answer or refusal on the part of the administration, you can seize the administrative court of Lille.

* an appeal for annulment against the prefectural decree pronouncing the refusal of title directly before the Administrative Court of Lille within 2 months following the issuance of the decree or, in the event of absence of response, after a period of 4 months to from the registration of the residence permit application.

Renewals of residence permits are also done at the prefecture, which will re-examine your situation to check whether you still meet the conditions for a residence permit to be issued to you.



When a foreigner wishes to work in France, a double procedure is sometimes necessary: ​​a request for a work permit and a request for a residence permit, except when the residence permit is equivalent to a work permit (VLS-TS, private life residence permit and family, talent passport residence permit, job search or business creation residence permit, etc.). The work permit can take the form of a visa, a residence permit, or a document separate from the residence document. It is your employer who must apply for a work permit before you enter France.

The application for a residence permit and that for renewal are made at the prefecture.

Things to know

You must pay particular attention to applying for the residence permit to which you are entitled. In fact, if you fulfill the conditions for obtaining a “student” residence permit, and you apply for a “private and family life” permit, the prefect will not issue you with a “student” permit because it is not the one You asked.


3 – Do higher education with a Visa to France

If you are a foreigner and want to study in France, you must register or pre-register in a higher education institution and you will need to obtain a visa. You must also have sufficient resources to meet your needs.

* If it is a registration in the 1st year of a license level training, you must submit a preliminary admission request (DAP).

* If you live in a country covered by the procedure Studies in France, you must apply for registration directly on the website: Studies in France (diplomatie.gouv.fr)

* If you are a European student, you must follow the same registration procedure as a French student.

To find accommodation in a university residence or private accommodation, do not hesitate to contact the CROUS (Regional Center for University and School Works) in Lille. You will also find help with catering, scholarship applications, etc.

There are numerous scholarships to help you finance your training projects in France. So do not hesitate to inquire on the site www.diplomatie.gouv.fr. All the scholarships are detailed there, as well as the steps to follow to apply for them.


4 – Request special protection


Refugee status is defined in the Geneva Convention of 1951. It is granted to any person who […] has a well-founded fear of being persecuted on account of his race, his religion, his nationality, his membership of a certain social group or of his political opinions, is outside the country of his nationality and who cannot or, because of this fear, does not want to claim the protection of this country; or who, if he has no nationality and is outside the country in which he had his habitual residence, cannot or, because of the said fear, does not want to return there.

Refugee status can also be recognized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.


Subsidiary protection can be granted to any person who does not meet the necessary conditions for recognition of refugee status, but who suffers from serious threats in his country of origin, such as:

  • the death penalty,
  • torture or inhuman or degrading treatment,
  • threats directly affecting his person in the context of a generalized armed conflict.


Applications for admission to stay under asylum are made to the prefecture whether you have a visa or not. The prefecture will be competent to examine your application for admission to residence.

Asylum seekers must contact the telephone platform of the first reception structure for asylum seekers (SPADA) in order to pre-register their asylum application. The SPADA will assign you an appointment at the single desk for asylum applications (GUDA).